Besides forgetting which side of the road cars drive on, Southeast Missouri State University student and tennis player Elizabeth Nyenwe has made a smooth transition from her life in London, England, to the hills of Cape Girardeau in five short weeks since her arrival.
Considering she moved to a different country, enrolled in her first college courses and played in her first collegiate tennis matches all within a few weeks, Elizabeth is taking it all in stride and doing exceptionally well.
As a talented tennis player, Elizabeth wanted to advance to the next level of the sport, and because she wanted to continue to receive a quality education as well, she decided to study in America.
“America has so many opportunities when it comes to sports, and they value their athletes so highly. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Elizabeth said. “Americans have a high regard for student-athletes.
They respect how much dedication and effort athletes put into their studies and their sport.”
A first-semester freshman, Elizabeth has yet to decide her major at Southeast. She said universities in England require students begin courses for their degree right away because they do not offer general studies courses like most American universities. If a student decides to change his major later on, he or she must start the four years of schooling for a degree again.
“The education system in America is a huge advantage for me. I can take some time to try out many subject areas, so I will have more information and experience to base my decision of my major,” Elizabeth said.
While she originally planned to forego her college career until fall 2011, Elizabeth said she couldn’t pass up the offer she received to play for the Redhawks and began her schooling a semester early.
“Coach [Mark] Elliott contacted me after seeing my profile and tennis video and made me an offer to join the team in the spring,” Elizabeth said. “I knew that an opportunity to attend any United States college as a student-athlete was an amazing one, so I decided to take up his offer.”
With training and competing taking up most of her time at Southeast so far, Elizabeth hasn’t gotten the opportunity to experience much of what the University and Cape Girardeau has to offer other than her classes and athletics. That doesn’t bother Elizabeth too much, though, because she has enjoyed every moment.
It’s evident by the ever-present smile on her face.
“My experience here has been great so far. I’ve been kept on my toes by classes, training and matches which I enjoy loads. Being an athlete at Southeast is demanding but very enjoyable,” Elizabeth said. “I am loving and appreciating every minute here so far.”
Although Elizabeth admits she misses her family and friends in London, it’s obvious she has a great outlook on her time abroad at Southeast.
“It’s always going to be difficult being so far away from home, but if you take everything in stride and be open to new experiences, it could potentially be the best experience of your life,” she said.
Elizabeth’s teammates, coaches, teachers, advisors and friends have already made her experience just that, she said.
“I enjoy the people I practice with throughout the week and others who simply have my best interests at heart and want to see me succeed. There are many people I have met so far who want nothing but that!” she said.