International Student-Athlete in the USA: What You Need to Know

November 26, 2020

Shinead Promnitz is an Aspire Atlantic alumna currently studying at William Penn University and playing softball for the Statesmen. She wrote us a guide about what to expect when you first arrive in the USA, and how to deal with the inevitable issues that pop up when going to school far away from home.

The 2020 William Penn University Statesmen Women's Softball Team. Shinead is in the back row, in the middle, with her hair tied back

Something I wish someone had told me and prepared me for was how difficult the first few weeks and months can be. You will definitely experience some form of homesickness. I would FaceTime my parents every day for the first few weeks of my college experience, as it was so strange to not see them all the time, and that initially took a large toll on me. But don’t let this scare you, because after every sunset, there is always a sunrise.

I met the people I now call my best friends about a month into my first year, and they have become my rock and my backbone. It is essential that you make friends, because - trust me! - they will make every day more interesting than the last. Also note the fact that your being from another country will in itself attract friends - so do not be surprised to get a few Lion and Elephant questions here and there, as it happens all the time!

Be prepared to have only very little time to yourself as things in an American college are much different to what you are used to at home. You will be attending classes for half your day, have practice in the afternoon, and usually study tables as a team in the evening - and this will be your schedule every single day. Sometimes you will have 6am practice, and you are most likely going to have team weightlifting at least two to three times a week. This may seem like a lot, but you get used to it quickly, and it actually becomes a comfort when your schedule is so organized that it often does not leave time for boredom and wandering thoughts. Yet you will begin to see your body become more muscular and strong, you will be able to do things you didn’t think you were capable of, and your skills in your sport will improve many times over. This will boost your self-esteem and self-confidence so much, and you will become proud of the person you have become. You will be able to see so many more bright options for your future.

A few essentials to know:

  • Not everyone will understand your accent at first, and don’t be shy or ashamed of it! They will get used to it and you will become proud of it because it is one of the things that makes you absolutely unique amongst your classmates.
  • Time management and organization is so important - without it, you will be lost. Try to stay ahead of your school assignments so that you never become overwhelmed with deadlines and due dates.
  • Ask your professors for assistance if you need it. They may seem intimidating at first but they are more than willing to help, and once you begin talking to them you will create relationships that will help you throughout your college career.
  • Your parents will struggle with you not being home anymore - let alone not even in the same country - so give them time to adapt, just as you are, because it is not easy on either of you for the first few weeks of your new journey.
  • Be open to all new experiences because EVERYTHING is new. You will experience many new foods, cultures, and people and everyone is so unique. Agreeing to a few new experiences will change your life in ways you can't even imagine! 

And finally, embrace who you truly are; this is your time to be utterly you in every way.

PS. I would definitely recommend a pillow for the plane trips to America and back! It will save your neck a lot of pain and cramps.

It is always the right time to start your journey towards studying and playing sport at your dream school. Sign up for a free consultation with Aspire Atlantic today, and you could be the next student-athlete we help get to the USA!


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