Grace Foyer - My Freshman Year in Florida
BLOG - Freshmen year as a Student Athlete
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida.
August 12th - London Heathrow (LHR) -> New York (JFK) -> Orlando (MCO)
This was personally my first time traveling to America but the process was very simple. SRUSA partnered me up with a teammate who was also flying from Heathrow to the same school. This was reassuring especially for parents. I stayed in a hotel overnight with my family and they then dropped me off at the airport early morning the following day. After two flights we then arrived at MCO where we were picked up by two of our team mates who drove us back to Daytona Beach to their apartment, where we stayed for the next few days. During the few days we were very busy. This included; Covid testing provided by the school, soccer training, and we started to meet most of the team. Our teammates also showed around the local area in Daytona and shopped for our dorms essentials. The team were so helpful in telling us what we needed for the dorms but they also checked over our schedule’s so we were all set for first day of classes on the 24th.
MOVE IN DAY
16th August - It was then move in day into the dorms. The day began with collecting a goody bag from school which included ; keys, hands sanitiser, Eagle card (university card), mail room keys, maps of the school and orientation information/welcome pack. Our teammates drove us to campus and helped us move our belongings into the dorm room and making it feel at home, they also showed us around campus and where the food places are.
1ST DAY OF CLASSES
24th August -. After settling into dorm life it was time to start classes. Due to Covid restrictions we were in smaller classes, often split schedule where half online classes and half in person. I also had a class fully online via zoom. The classes are general education subjects for the first two years of college, with a mix of your specific classes designed for your degree, mine is Business Management. This was a completely new experience for me. As I had been out of education for two years I was quite nervous but with the help of coaches, professors and teammates it proved to be the opposite and was a very smooth transition, which I really enjoyed. One thing to expect from classes are midterm exams and final exams during and at the end of each semester. Below is a rough schedule of what a week would look like for me during my first year.
Soccer starts. We started Soccer training as a team with the coaches. During the first few weeks completed fitness testing and we were handed out our training gear. This included; Tops, shorts, socks, travel jacket, fleece etc. Due to Covid our first semester was quite different to previous years as we had no preseason or any games as the season was cancelled. Although this was the case we still utilised our time and trained hard on the field and in the weight room. We would have five training sessions a week and three lifting sessions with a separate lifting coach.
One thing that amazed me the most about playing soccer in the states were the coaches and the level of soccer. It was so important for me to come into a team that drives high standards, competitiveness and to train like you play. Secondly the Facilities are amazing, from personalised lockers, carpet like football pitches etc. Additionally the support I received from my football coaches, Lifting coaches and physios were second to none.
As for soccer and classes we still found much free time to spend team bonding, exploring the area and having fun. Things we did included, running on the beach, surfing as a team, football tennis on the beach, pool days, game nights, shopping, team meals, having BBQs at our coaches house and having a ride out on their boat. I was also very lucky enough as after finals we tool a trip down to Key west, a very tropical part of Florida.
Thanksgiving / Christmas / New year. This was my first Christmas away from home however, it was up there with one of my top Christmases to date. At this point many students started to leave to their homes for Christmas and go see their families but me and a few of my friends decided to stay. I stayed in my friends apartment, over the break we kept up with the training and lifting schedule however we just took the sessions on our own. There was a group that stayed so there was never a dull moment. We planned many fun trips like; Visiting the theme parks Busch Gardens, Island of adventure and Universal Studios.
I spent my first thanksgiving with a teammate in Orlando and their family, so I got the full thanksgiving dinner experience and I would definitely recommend! We then celebrated our first Swedish Christmas on the 24th and had a proper English Christmas dinner on the 25th, this was at our friends family house who are originally from England so it felt just like home. For New year me and my friend flew to Chicago where we spent the night and drove to Wisconsin to Devils head ski resort where we went skiing for the next few days. We then drove down to snowy Pekin Illinois to stay with our friend from college and stayed in their wood cabin to see in the new year. After all the fun and travelling we flew back to Florida to start our second semester.
As everyone started arriving back from their Christmas breaks it was soon time to start back up with training and classes. It was a similar schedule to the previous semester as shown above. We were lucky enough to get vaccinated for Covid during this semester also. The highlight of my spring semester was the final friendly we had as our senior night game, this was an amazing feeling after not playing for so long. In the spring semester we had some other trips planned for the end to finish off our first year. Once finals were over we travelled to our friends house in Fort Myers and finished the year with a trip to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It was then time to fly home and see my family after 9 months oaf being away.
I have been with Jon at SRUSA since 2018, for a while I was unsure if this was the right path for me but I knew if I didn’t try it I would have regret that decision for the rest of my life. This year has definitely proved that going to America has gone way above any expectation I ever had. Advice I would give to anyone considering this route is to believe in yourself and take the next big step forward to a life changing experience. I have had the best year of my life and met the most amazing coaches, friends, team-mates that will be friends for life, I’m already really looking forward to getting back for pre season and starting sophomore year.