The life changing experience of an International Collegiate Athlete
By Annali DolmanAnnali_Profile

Deciding to attend William Jewell College to further my education and play softball has been the biggest and most amazing decision I have made in my life. Not only did I move away from home but I packed up my entire life in one 55 LB (23kg) bag; now that was a struggle! Being an international student has meant I have had to leave my family behind to venture out to study abroad. This, for me, also meant I had to take the longest flight in the world, over 24 hours and 8,578 miles (13,804 km) from Adelaide, Australia via Sydney, via Dallas, Texas and arriving in Kansas City, MO. My William Jewell journey has become the best experience of my life thus far and I will treasure the memories already gained and look forward to the ones yet to be experienced.

The process of being an international student and transferring from a University in Australia to a College in America was a very timely and challenging experience. It incorporated not only collecting my high school certificates from my state school organization, but also doing this for my university transcripts and having them all evaluated overseas, which meant postage time and delays from having to translate my classes between the two different education systems. The frustrating part was that I wanted to get to America as soon as I started talking to Coach, Dustin Combs. From the first conversation, I became enthusiastic about being part of the Jewell Softball Program. But for the semester I had to wait for all the paperwork to come through before I could officially sign as a Cardinal. The day I received the confirmation from coach that I would be finally signing, I was over the moon! That was when the mad packing and saying final goodbyes to all my friends and family started. I will add that saying goodbye to my family was extremely difficult, especially as we are a very close knit family.

The academics in America have been a challenge, but with my focus and desire to achieve, as well as the emphasis on excellence in everything encouraged through the softball program, I have definitely stepped up to the challenge and really applied myself in every class I have taken. I am proud to say that for the 2013 year I was named “Academic All-Conference” for the Greater Lakes Valley Conference. Jewell has a fantastic academic program which anyone who knows the school would be able to tell you. Every teacher I have met on campus makes every effort to assist their students. Not only do the students take pride in their work, professors take pride in their students and the achievements each of them make. Having experienced being ‘just a number’ at a large university in Australia, I was so happy to not only have my name said when a professor was talking to me, but to be seen as an individual. I have even experienced having a teacher a week away from giving birth, come in to school over summer to help me study for an exam I had to take; now that is dedication to your students!

William_Jewell_College_SoftballTeam

William Jewell College has not only exceeded all my expectations with the fantastic academic program, my softball team and the entire athletic community on campus has enriched my experience here in America. The campus has become my home away from home with family included. Our team emphasizes being a great teammate. Growing up I thought this only meant playing well and putting the effort in on the field. I definitely learned a thing or two about what this really meant when I came to Jewell. These girls are my family, the people I turn to when I have no idea what to do in class, the shoulder I cry on when I’m feeling home sick, and the sisterly advice you need about the challenges of college life. Not a day goes by where I am not thankful for each and every one of my teammates, my friends.

These girls also know how to play softball. Practices are a challenge but every day I find myself learning something new. As a group, we always push through every challenge we face and sometimes I surprise myself with what I have been able to achieve. This is hands down most fun I have ever had playing the game of softball.

The athletic department has also hugely enriched my college experience by assisting me with work-study over summer. I learned so much about the whole collegiate system and had many experiences that I never thought I would. I have marked out a lacrosse field with duct tape on a turf football field, and then I had to mark out a football field on one of our schools back fields. Now this may seem pretty straight forward in America, but as an Australian, my concept of a square football field is limited, due to the fact that the code I follow and play is on an oval shaped field (Australian Rules Football). The athletic department not only provided me with work, but a family over summer which took me under their wing and supported me when I needed it. I also became the babysitting service for the athletic staff and thoroughly enjoyed this experience and the time off campus in real houses. I enjoyed the access to a real kitchen where I could cook, and strangely enough, I enjoyed reliving the chores that I usually did back in Australia, like washing the dishes and tidying up where I could.

I am impressed with the sense of community that I’m now surrounded by. Everywhere you go on campus there is always a smiling face and a friendly hello. I have been fortunate enough to get to know a lot of the faculty on campus over my year at Jewell, and I have made many unexpected friends. Every department has a fantastic group of people and they always go out of their way to help. This has included the facility department helping me move rooms over summer, the continual support from the athletic department, and the continued assistance from all my classroom teachers. Even when you go off campus, if you’re in Jewell Softball attire, people in the street stop to say hello. The Jewell community extends beyond campus.

Yes there have been some ‘downs’ along the way, nobody could honestly say that college isn’t difficult, but having my Jewell family to support me has made it so much easier. It has been so life changing, and while I have experienced the ups and downs and everything in between, this has been the best decision in my life I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My biggest piece of advice would be that if you can ever experience studying and living overseas, I highly suggest you do it! It will be, at times, difficult but you will learn so much more about yourself and you will set yourself up for life’s challenges throughout your life that you WILL be able to overcome.

So in closing, something that helps get me up and going every day, “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”

Annali Dolman
William Jewell College Softball Team.

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