Saskia Wagner

University of Arkansas at Little Rock (formerly TSG 1899 Hoffenheim) – 19.11.2020
 
“As I arrived at the airport in Little Rock in the beginning of August, I realized that it was important to my coaches that I felt comfortable and welcomed in my unfamiliar environment. They did this by bringing a German teammate along with them to pick me up! We drove directly to my apartment, where I have been living with 4 teammates ever since. The girls were already waiting for me in the apartment on my arrival and were welcoming me!
 
Since of course the United States was also affected by Corona, I had to quarantine for 2 weeks and was only allowed to train with, and get to know the other internationals, who were also in quarantine. After the quarantine period was over and I was allowed back into full team training, I got to know the rest of the girls and get comfortable with them very quickly.
 
Classes started about 2 weeks after I arrived. However, because of the pandemic, most of the courses I have this semester are online. As a result, I have not spent as much time on the university campus. However, I was guided through the campus in the first few days, so that I could find my way around on my own. I was positively surprised by the online structure of the university. All courses run smoothly, and you almost feel as if the professors have been teaching like this for ages. Luckily, I do not have the feeling that the pandemic really affects my studies.
 
Football-wise, we were lucky that our Sunbelt Conference season was played despite Covid. I was incredibly happy that my coaches put their trust in me right from the beginning and that I started in the first game of the season. In the end, I was allowed to play every minute of the season and in the Conference Tournament, which allowed me to experience what it means to play college soccer. That was a great new experience for me. At our home games, many university athletes from other sports were often there to cheer us on, which was great. Some surprises I had for example, were that the American national anthem was played before every game and that if there is no winner after 90 minutes, you go into extra time. However, our away games gave me the opportunity to see other states like Louisiana and Texas. At the end of the season, we finally went to the Conference Tournament in Alabama. Here we stayed for 5 days in a hotel on the Gulf of Mexico with a view directly on the beach. It was November by then but, it was so warm that we could still swim in the sea after training sessions and games. It was just a pity that the tournament was over for us after the quarterfinals, which we lost on penalties.
 
Despite this unfortunate end to the season, I can really say that I am super happy to have made the decision to come here as the experience is already unforgettable. You just experience so many new things and my team has really become like a second family for me. I can say that even though I will also like to see my family and friends in Germany again over Christmas, going back in January is something I am very much looking forward to.”

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