College athletes come from overseas to play for LLCC

Gracie Schweighart, Staff Writer

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As many of us know, making the transition from high school to college can be difficult.  Bigger class size, new people, larger campus, and much more.  Imagine having all of the nerves that come along with first going to college, on top of the nerves of moving to a new country just a few days before classes begin.  

When most of us first thought about going to college, learning how to adapt to a different country was not a concern to us.  For two freshman volleyball players though, this was not the case.  Bobana Marusic, a libero/outside hitter for the LLCC volleyball team, is from Belgrade, Serbia – 5,160 miles from Springfield.  Maree Taig, a middle hitter for the LLCC volleyball team, is from Melbourne, Australia – 9,500 miles from Springfield.

“For me, the biggest change (being in the United States) has been adjusting to having to drive everywhere,” Taig said.  Melbourne is a city of around 4.5 million people – much larger than Springfield.  In order to get anywhere around her home city, taking a car was not a necessity.  “Back home I was used to walking and taking buses and trains to get to most places.”

Like most any collegiate student-athlete, one of the many challenges Maree and Bobana have faced is learning how to perfect time management between volleyball and schoolwork.  “You need to manage your time really well and try not to miss anything, especially if you have other obligations like we have volleyball practices, matches, and tournaments.”

For Maree though, the transition from high school to college class wise has not been too difficult.  “The classes have been fairly similar in size.”   Taig said that her classes have been a “pretty easy ride” thus far.

Bobana, on the other hand, has faced a fairly substantial challenge.  As she is from Serbia, her native language is Serbian – not at all similar to English.  

“It is challenging to be around people who speak English all the time, giving you tasks, assignments, and exams, while still aiming to receive high grades.”  

Marusic though, after completing her first three months in the U.S., has remained optimistic.  “This is a challenge, and this experience is giving me the opportunity to really get to know myself while becoming independent and mentally stronger.”

The volleyball team, as well as their families, have had a lot to do with the success of Maree and Bobana within their first three months living in the United States.

Unlike the other girls on the volleyball team, Maree and Bobana do not have the luxury of making the drive home if they have an off-weekend or when they are feeling home-sick.  “My teammates help me a lot,” Marusic said.  “Their parents also care about me and try to make me feel like I am at home.  For any break that we have, I am always invited to their homes.  They always make me feel very welcome.”

Any sports team is similar to a second family – and the LLCC volleyball team has been monumental in helping these two girls with the process of adapting to both a new school and a new country.  

“Having teammates has definitely helped lots in adjusting as it has given me people to bond and make friends with,” Taig said.  “In classes, it is difficult to make friends when I don’t have a lot in common with my classmates, but my teammates have helped in introducing me to other people and making new friends.”  

As many of us, students at Lincoln Land are from the Springfield area or at least a driving distance away, it is fairly easy for us to make friends because we have a high chance of having a lot in common with those around us.  Also, many students here at Lincoln Land knew a lot of classmates before their first day of school.  Some of us may have even graduated high school with the same classmates we have at LLCC.  “Without my teammates, I would’ve felt much lonelier,” Taig said.

“My biggest reason for coming here was to play volleyball and get better, and that has definitely been the case,” Taig said.  “Having the opportunity to play the sport I love almost every day is awesome and I’ve already learned so much.”

Maree and Bobana have adapted to both college and moving to another country extremely well.  They have made a large impact on the volleyball team this year, have adjusted well to school, and have met and continue to meet others that assist in making their transitions smoother.  Bobana simplified the path for her success – “Manage your time, be responsible, and fight for your academic goals.”

Gracie Schweighart can be reached at [email protected]


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College athletes come from overseas to play for LLCC