06 Oct My College Experience
Where do I start? Well, perhaps I should start by sharing that, such was the positive impact of my experience that, on my final plane trip back to Australia after graduation, I made a decision that one day I was going to help other families navigate the process so that they could have the opportunity to experience what I consider to be the most amazing pathway for any athlete in the world.
So what was it that made my experience so memorable? I have narrowed it down here in this blog to five key things:
# 5 Networking
If I knew then what I know now about Americans, I would have spent a good deal longer networking. Americans like to provide opportunities to student-athletes from other countries. The alumni association with each college in the US is incredibly strong and, if you pay attention, paid internships can easily come your way. I remember being approached after tennis matches by alumni in the crowd to offer such opportunities which allowed me to earn some money but also add serious value to my resume.
# 4 Out of my comfort zone
Leaving home isn’t easy, but boy was it worth it! All good things require small and big sacrifices and I was willing to miss my family, knowing that the time was now for me to take this opportunity or miss out altogether. By getting out of my comfort zone, I became more worldly, confident and I appreciated my family and my home even more and still do to this day thanks to my college opportunity.
# 3 One big learning experience
In college, away from home, playing sport, meeting friends, attending classes, I was always learning something. I went to college to get a degree, which I cherish; however, the biggest lessons came out of the classroom and that in itself is a meaningful reason to go to college.
# 2 Confidence
Being away from home breeds confidence. Why? I had to make decisions for myself every day. Some important, some not. But learning how to make good decisions required standing on my own two feet. American people are confident by nature, and they have a way of making internationals feel the same way. It’s contagious. I thrived on receiving public recognition for even the smallest academic improvement. I became what I refer to as ‘academically confident’ which is not something I could have imagined in high school.
# 1 Opportunity
Really, all I had when I arrived in the USA was an opportunity. Nobody else was going to help me embrace the opportunity I was given. My college town was not the prettiest place on earth, nor were the facilities as good as lower ranked programs nearby. But, once friendships were formed with those around me, this was my new home. Once I embraced the good with the less than perfect, I could maximise the opportunity I was given and become the best person, tennis player and student I could be.
You may notice that in my top five, I didn’t elaborate on my travels through thirty plus states of American with teammates all over the world. Nor did I touch on the rush of adrenaline when playing in front of large crowds, or the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best athletes in the world.
My top five are my top five because they aren’t just memories, they are the life changing outcomes of my college experience that I still benefit from each and every day.
Coming soon.. Chris has written a book to detail his journey to college in the US through tennis. It’s called ‘Game Changer: An Aussie’s Transformative US College Tennis Journey”