I’m from Germany, but I went to high school in Luxembourg. I got my baccalaureate in math and economics. Besides school, I also invested a lot of time playing tennis. I traveled internationally and competed against top ranked tennis players. I first started playing tennis at the age of 5. I dedicated 14 years into my sport. Of course, I did not want to throw this away after I graduated high school, so I decided to keep playing and after talking to other players on the tour, I decided that studying in America would be my best option. American universities have excellent facilities for athletes and make it possible to combine sport and studies. I was the only one from my high school that dared to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
My next step was to find an agency that would be able to prepare me for my journey abroad. I got in touch with an agency and we started talking about my interests and what I expect from them. After a few phone calls, I signed a contract and they got the work started. The most important thing about getting coaches on your side is your highlight video, where you present yourself and your skills. After having couple of conversations with the coaches, I had to take the SAT test, which was not easy at all, since I was not fluent in English, but I managed to get a good score, which helped me with my university selection. Within one or two weeks, I heard from the first coaches who were contacting me about being a part of their tennis teams. I got really excited and the more coaches emailed me, the more excited I got. I had a lot of schools to pick from, but in the end, I chose a D2 school in Pennsylvania: California University of Pennsylvania. After being accepted by the coach, I still needed to get a lot of paperwork done, that was the most annoying part. But, that was not the agency’s fault — America tends to make everything a little bit more complicated than it really is. My first Skype call with my coach went well and weeks passed by and the day had come where my parents drove me to the airport and I had to say bye to everyone until I would see them again in 5 months. It was hard at first but once I arrived in the States, people were extremely friendly and their hospitality was amazing. I got to my school and it did not take long at all and I was able to call it my second home.
As a student-athlete you are quite popular and a non-athletes look up at you and remember your name from signs, games, news etc. This was really new to me. Other students come out to support you and you become part of a community. In order to perform well you have to work hard — both on schoolwork and your sport. Our tennis team practiced every day from 6:30 until 8:30 in the morning. Classes usually started around 9:00 and conditioning was in the afternoon. It took me a while to get used to the busy schedule, but after a while, you do not even mind getting up that early. The opposite is actually true. Without practicing in the morning, I was not as focused in my lectures, so I was grateful for the early morning practices.
Another advantage of American schools is that they offer a lot of activities outside of school and from time to time you have the chance to attend job fairs, get real life working experience, and do volunteer work, which are all really important things to have on your Curriculum Vitae. I am now a junior at NYIT in New York and looking back to when I was a freshman, I would say that coming to America changed me as a person and changed the way I look at people and things around me. I was always that shy girl from Germany who was afraid to open up to people and now I can proudly say, that I am grown up and that I know how to deal with difficult, stressful situations. Through out my college career, I learned how to work in a team, I learned to commit, I learned to be fluent in English (the world language). I am ready to go out there with all the knowledge I have acquired and work even harder, because I have learned how to get rewarded by putting great effort in something. And of course I can say that I did not have to give up what I love and that I followed my dream.
Note from the editor: Lena Dimmer is now a Finance Analyst at Millennium Management in NYC. Congrats Lena!
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