Should I be stressed about freshman finals
In a few days I have completed an eighth of my planned study time. It feels like yesterday when I landed in Orlando on August 9th, exhausted, and a few days later met the team and moved into my room on campus. On the one hand, so much has happened in these few months; on the other hand, time passed by in a flash. At the end I will draw a conclusion about my first 4 months in the USA.
From the start, I can say that the decision to study in the USA was one of the best of my life. As has already been said so often, nowhere else do you get such a professional connection between the sport you love and your studies. In order not to mix everything together and to keep a rough overview, I will divide my conclusion into school and environment (friends etc ...).
When the decision was made in February of this year that I would probably study in the USA for the next 4 years, a few doubts arose at first. What if the language barrier becomes a problem? What if I'm too stressed out with soccer and studying? What if my grades are bad? What if I don't play? I went into my first season with a queasy feeling, not knowing whether the coach really saw me in his plans. I knew the level of the team was incredibly strong and the competition would be there every week. But right from the start, the coach gave me the confidence I needed and showed me that he sees me as part of the team. Something like that is not a matter of course as a freshman. I get enough playing time and have been in the starting line-up for half of all games, even if I have to say that I am not satisfied with my performance. It was probably due to the unfamiliar environment and the new way of playing football, so that I could never really show my best performance. From Germany I was used to taking on responsibility and playing an important part in the team, but that was very difficult for me in my first season because our team consisted of such strong and especially older players that it was difficult was to stand out. However, this is not supposed to mean that everything was negative. I'm just critical of myself because I know I can play a lot better.
Today I can laugh at all the other doubts with a clear conscience. Yes, my English is not yet perfect, and especially at the beginning there were one or two communication problems. There were even a few people who made fun of my incorrect pronunciation on the grounds that if you are studying in the USA you should also be able to speak English. As long as such people exist, people like Donald Trump always have the chance to become president. What I can't take off, and probably never will, is my German accent. Nonetheless, communication with friends and co. Is great and largely problem-free, even if you haven't understood a question the first time, you just ask a second time. And if you still haven't understood it, you just laugh and mumble some shit, you know what I mean. The double burden between football and studies was not really a hurdle either. I was even happy to be distracted from all of my studies, so that the sport served more as a balance. Especially in the last few weeks, when I no longer had daily training, I realized how easy it is to study here and how much free time you actually have. All in all I only have a 3 day school, 10-11h a week, and some courses are really a joke. The whole thing here is more similar to the course level. Since the classes are also relatively small, there is also a teaching grade for the grading, in which you can actually only do well as long as you arrive punctually and regularly. In contrast to studying in Germany, there is not only one big work at the end of the semester that represents the majority of your final grade, but many quizzes, tests and papers over the entire semester. Sometimes even homework, I would say, more of a course level than a real study. So you could say that you have something to do in the USA at any time, but the effort is not that great, whereas in Germany you have to make a huge effort at the end of the semester. I know that it can be different for some. I am writing these lines exactly one week before my final exams. I took 4 courses over the course of the semester, so I also have to do 4 final exams. But what does the final work actually look like? Before my studies, I expected work similar to my Abitur, where you have to sit down at least a month in advance to study. But the reality looks different. In a course, the beginner's course that every freshman has to take, the final project is to create a film that connects the teaching content with one another. One day of effort, nothing more. In my International Business course I have a 2 hour job where I am allowed to bring all my notes. In theory, I could write the whole book out for myself. My environmental science course, which has actually always been the most demanding over the months, requires me to write a 750-word paper on a task. I have a week for that. At the beginning of the semester, I never thought that the Modern Japan course would be the most unnerving for me. Basically, I need to know everything that happened in Japan from 1930 to today. EDIT: I started the post before my final exams. As an update, I can only say that the work was very easy.
One big difference since I've been studying in the US has been in my willingness to learn. While I only approached everything with 50% in Germany, I always prepare for lessons here, do my tasks on time, and above all only write very good grades. I am also much more interested in the material that is being taught, as I don't have to commit to a major in the first year. I have a history course, a business course and a course that deals with climate change from an economic perspective. The latter in particular changed my view of things and showed me what I really want to do and achieve in life. I think it's very good that you don't have to commit yourself at the beginning, but can acquire knowledge from different areas. What I find very positive is that most of the exams are work that you can take home and have to hand in two days later. Even if my English has improved, it is still sometimes difficult for me to get my thoughts clearly and clearly on paper under time pressure.
Since I play in the soccer team, it is of course obvious that the majority of my friends come from the team. I was very well received from the start and I think everyone on the team gets along well with each other. But I'll go into that in more detail in the next section. Social interactions on campus or parties are very different from Germany. First of all, it has to be said that Americans seem much more open and nicer at first glance. Everyone who has ever been to the USA knows the situation when people come up to you and ask "What's up" = "What's up?" Or "How are you?" = "How are you". But what at first looks like the person opposite is interested in your feelings or experiences turns out to be just a common, polite norm. Such questions are just so hard anchored in American minds that they replace a normal hello. Ultimately, however, the other person is not interested in an answer, and so it often happens that your answer is ignored or the conversation is limited to two lines. To be honest, that's annoying, because from my point of view it is simply unnecessary to look like you're starting a conservation, but in the end just want to say hello. Another point that I underline here under the aspect of “environment” is my living situation. A few attentive people know that I live in a single room on campus. The buildings, the dorms, are very sparsely furnished, and it is actually common to have a roommate. However, I got one of the few single rooms and at the beginning I was actually very excited about it. You have your peace of mind, no annoying roommate, and you can keep things tidy. However, after I learned that the rate for a single room is way above the rate for a double room, although that doesn't make any sense, and my scholarship doesn't cover the extra charge, I'm paying a bunch of money for nothing. With the money that I spend to live for 8 months, during the semester break it is not allowed to live on campus, I could have a nice 2 room apartment in Munich for a whole year. But there is also the fact that after a while you feel really lonely. You spend too much time alone in the room, which makes you think about the most unnecessary things, so that sometimes you get really desperate because you don't have anyone to talk to. My previous attempts to move into a double room with my buddy from the team have always been refused. But now away from life on campus and towards the parties. In Germany I was less of a party goer and more of an athlete, but here you have no choice but to party. The parties that are organized by some friends are best because it is their birthday, as you gradually get to know the environment and feel more comfortable than partying in a club in Downtown Orlando with people you have never seen before. Furthermore, there are often parties of so-called fraternitys, as you know them from the typical college films. These parties often have a certain motto, be it "Black & White", "Sport", or "Ugly Christmas Sweater". In Germany you often come to parties dressed up and well-styled, while here you can make yourself a monkey without worry. I don't really want to say that much about college girls. By and large, they confirm the image they are given in films.
I finished my first semester a few days ago. It seems like yesterday, when I arrived on the 9th August, totally exhausted, at the airport in Orlando.In the following days, I met my team for the first time and moved on campus. There wasn't really some time to rest and get used to the new environment because Pre-Season and College started immediately. Now, during winter break, I will reflect on my first 4 months in the States.
Let me start by saying that it was one of the best decisions to study in the U.S. As I said before, there’s no place where you’ll get a better connection and support for the sport you love and your actual studies. To keep it sorted, I'm going to divide my resume in School and Social Life.
To be honest, I had some doubts when I made the decision this February, that I’m going to spend the next 4 years in the United States. What if the language barrier becomes a problem? What if I'm over-stressed with soccer and studying? What if I write bad notes because I'm not a fluent speaker? But most "important", what if I don’t play that much? Whenever I come to a new place I'm not familiar with, I feel intimidated and unconfident. But the coach gave me the needed trust and showed me that he wants me to be part of the team. In the end, I'm not really happy about how the whole season went. I don't mean the team performance, but my own. I was always used to take much responsibility on the field and play a big part in the game, but this year I felt like the game often went past me. On the one hand, it's my own fault, because I didn't have the needed confidence in the new, unknown environment to actually be a game changer, on the other hand it's impossible to stand out in a team with such great players, especially when you're one of the youngest. In the end, I'm just thankful for the playtime I got and I'm looking forward to the next years and hope to improve my game. In addition, to that time, those other doubts were reasonable, but today I can only laugh about them. I'm not saying that my English is perfect, it will never be, and especially at the beginning, I had some problems with understanding what other people say (I still have it sometimes but now I just answer with a nod and smile). There are also some people who make fun of my pronunciation and say that if I study here, I need to speak perfect English. It's no surprise that they have a clown as their head of state. I know that I'll never lose my German accent because I'm too used to speak like that. Nonetheless, communication with friends isn't a problem. Most of the people are aware of the fact that English isn't my native language and show understanding if I make a mistake. Also, the feared double pressure of soccer and college isn't a burden at all. I'm actually glad that I had training every day because it often distracted me from the stress I had in school and represented a balance where I could forget my problems for some time. Especially in the last weeks, since the season is over, I realized how much free time I have. Totally, I only have 10-11 hours of classes every week, and the difficulty of some classes is a joke. The whole process reminds me more of my A-Levels back in Germany than actually studying at a college. You have to understand that in Germany, the difficulty and whole system is completely different to the U.S, or at least to Rollins College. I know that Rollins' small size makes the whole experience a little bit different, the classes are small, the professor "often" knows your name and has a personal relationship to every student, and your participation is also graded. In contrast to Germany, where you only have one big exam at the end of the semester, which makes up 90% of your final grade, and where you have to start studying 2 months before. Here you take smaller exams like quizzes, tests and midterms, distributed over the whole semester, that make up your final grade. Sometimes you also get homework and then I feel like I'm back in 7th grade. I like to say that in the US you always have to do something over the semester, although the difficulty and actual effort is pretty low, where in Germany you have to take one big thing at the end of the semester, which takes a lot of effort. I know that it depends on where you study and how big your school is. In my first semester, I took 4 classes, so I also had to take 4 final exams. But my final exams were a joke. Sometimes it's not even a real exam but a project like a short film or a paper with 750 words where you have a week to write an essay. Only my Modern Japan class, that I hate, is actually pretty challenging. The professor wants us to know everything that happened in Japan from the 1930s until today ... I mean come on ... I also like that most of the exams are take-home instead of actually exams where you have to sit in class and answer questions. Additionally, the language barrier is a pain in the neck. I often have good thoughts but it's hard for me to express them under time pressure. Furthermore, I'm also curious if college gets harder in the following semesters. Edit: I started writing this post before the final exams ... update: it was too easy.
In addition, I realized that college changed my willingness to actually study and submit papers in time, especially in a good quality. In Germany, I just handled everything with 50% and did most of the stuff at the last minute. Also, I wasn't really interested in learning new stuff and increasing my knowledge. Maybe it's because I don't have a PS4 here right now, but now I spent the time more with extending my knowledge than playing Weekend League. It sounds cheesy, but it "enlightened" me what’s actually important for me. Nonetheless, I’ll have to bring my PS4 from Germany to the U.S for the next semester because a life without Fifa isn’t a good life. I also like the idea that you don’t have to choose a major in your first year, but you’re able to try new things and stuff that attracts your interest. I hate it to be pushed into a specific category where my knowledge and creativity gets limited. To be fair, I'm not even creative, but I hope you get what I mean. After trying new stuff throughout the semester I'm now capable of saying what I actually want to do with my life. I think that some people, including me at the beginning, are too scared of failure to actually try and pursue their passions. That's why they choose the easy and secure way, which is often a business major. But I want to be open-minded and experience new things. For others, it may look like a risky path because they will say it's hard to get a well-paid job with that degree, but I think if you're really passionate about something, you will always be successful. In the end, I'll be happy because I do the thing I want to do and didn't listen to others opinion. I don’t want to have a 9-5 job where I sit in an office and may earn good money but hate what I do. One of my problems with college and our society is that it kind of pushes you into something that seemed like the "standard" or "average" version of what they view as correct. And if you choose a different path, a riskier, where the chances for a good job may seem less good, they judge, especially here in Germany. At least 70% in my Intro to International Business class wasn't really passionate about the subject. They sat quietly in the corner, did not listen, and were mentally absent. To be fair, it may be because of the way the professor taught, but who am I to judge. I'm happy that I finally found a major that kind of corresponds to what makes me truly happy. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a rant about Business majors. I know that some are truly passionate about it and actually do it because it's the thing that makes them happy. I might take one too. But to be honest, we all know that the majority takes a business major because they're indecisive what they want to do. It's often just an emergency solution and they end up unhappy in the future.
Since I'm on the soccer team, most of my friends are athletes. From Day One, the team was super friendly and helpful, but this paragraph won’t be about soccer because I spoke about my experiences in further posts. Generally, social interactions are kind of different here. At first glance, Americans seem way friendlier than Germans. But what I don’t understand are those "What’s up" and "How are you" conversations. First, it seems like your opponent is actually interested, but often the conversation ends after one sentence. I know that it's just a formal, common saying which basically means "Hello" but it's still confusing. Another aspect I put under "society" is my living situation. As some of you know, I live in a single room on campus. When I first heard that I got one of the highly desired single rooms, I was actually happy. No annoying roommate, no noise and you can keep order. But after I realized that I have to pay so much more for a single room, which makes absolutely no sense, and my scholarship will not cover the increase, I just wanted to get into a double. For the money, I have to pay for just 8 months, because during breaks you're not allowed to stay on campus, I could probably live in a nice and little apartment in Munich. Another negative point about a single room is that, as you're a freshman and new to a place where you almost have no friends, you kind of feel lonely most of the times. Furthermore, you've got too much time to think about unnecessary things and often bore yourself to death. That's why I constantly tried to move into a double room but all my recent efforts were denied. But let's move on to some positive aspects ... the parties. In Germany, I wasn't someone who often went to parties, but here you have no other choice. That's college. Especially the fraternity parties with a theme are fun. In Germany, you try to look as good as possible but here nobody cares if you make fun of yourself. I don't want to talk that much about girls, let's just say most of them confirm the picture they're given in films (no offense).
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