How did you feel when you left home for America?
When leaving home in the pursuit of an American soccer scholarship I felt fairly comfortable in my journey, I had been away from home before although not in a different continent. My first thoughts of arriving in America were of a film, everything looked exactly how it does in the American films and tv shows. The soccer team was the first to arrive on campus due to the preseason. I had a brief tour from the coach and settled into my new room. At first I did not like the housing facilities and the idea of having to share with a roommate, this made the first nights the hardest as I was home sick. Soon though I was comfortable, I had met other people who lived near/next to me and we helped each other with the new challenges which faced us. Once I was in the swing of things, home didn’t feel too far away and I was excited to start the new chapter of my life.
Within days after arriving, the soccer team began the tireless preseason training, this involved two training sessions a day that were filled with anaerobic, aerobic, and also ball techniques. It was refreshing to be so active with training again as I had just entered America shortly after the lift of COVID-19 lockdown and the easing of restrictions, little did I know this was only the beginning to what I thought was a busy schedule.
With regard to the culture of soccer in America it was hard to adjust. There were players from around the world there were many language barriers as well as different playing styles, not to mention the American referees. The beginning of September being busy days, trying to juggle check-in, new classes, and training (as well as still adapting to the new environment and campus locations.) During the first few weeks soccer and American football were the only students at the University. When the rest of campus began to flood with people, the soccer sessions went to one a day with normally two games a week. Some of our away games were as far as eight hours away! (the equivalent of driving from Wales to Scotland), on these trips I would miss class and often have to plan ahead or complete the work whilst travelling. With away games being very tedious for my studies they were still one of my favourite times, they allowed me to see different parts of America and get off campus.
Advice to an Incoming International Student
The biggest difference between here at St. Andrews and larger campuses is the amount of close friends I that have made. The campus is fairly small and you see most of the people on an almost day to day basis. It has allowed me to build very strong connections in a short amount of time. With little support from parents, as they are so far away, many times I will rely on my friends to help me with issues I can’t solve individually. I would say I have a large range of friends here in America ranging from international to American students. I do sometimes struggle to connect with North American and South American students due to cultural barriers more than my closer European counterparts. With this being said, another big difference has been the educational system. I had no clue before coming to America that it would take four years to graduate instead of three. Other things that I was unprepared for were going to class everyday and the weekly assignments. The assignments have been a nightmare, however, they are easily doable with the right dedication.
Some advice I would say to any international students who are thinking of coming to America would be to participate in all if not as many campus events as possible, this is a great way of meeting new people and having fun at the same time. I would suggest if you are not an English speaking student or your English is poor that you have a roommate who is fluent. I would not be scared of moving away from home as although it may be hard for the first couple of weeks you will settle in quickly, and do not forget most of the other international students will be in the same boat as you. And by all means – Try St. Andrews, you will love it!
- Davis, Bryanna. “Survive Dorm Move-In.” The International Student Blog, 28 June 2013, blog.internationalstudent.com/2013/06/22/dorm-move-in.
- Vivas, Naomi. “The Real International Student-Athlete Experience.” Athletes USA, 25 Feb. 2022, athletesusa.org/international-student-athlete-experience.
- Stahl, Jessica. “Why Aren’t Americans and International Students Becoming Friends?” VOA, 19 June 2012, www.voanews.com/a/why-aren%E2%80%99t-americans-and-international-students-becoming-friends/4008813.html.
- EdvoyTM Educational Services Ltd. “9 Differences Between Studying in the UK Vs the USA.” Edvoy, edvoy.com/articles/difference-between-studying-in-uk-vs-usa/