Hi everyone. My name is Romy Kölzer, I am a 23 years old tennis player from Germany, studying in big ol’ America. I live in Clemson, SC. You NEVER heard about Clemson? Me neither, until I fell in a love/hate relationship with this place during my official visit in 2011. Clemson is a small college town close to Greenville, SC. It is a cute little place where almost everyone is familiar with each other. It is funny, but also nice. On the other side though, one has nothing to do in a small town close to the lake. Here and there are some restaurants and a couple of bars, but that’s already about it, which means in other words that it can be very very very boring at times.
Still, there is much more about Clemson than you might think. Here everything is about tradition. I have never been exposed to something like this before I came here. Everyone loves to follow traditional behaviors that already exist since over hundreds of years. Why? Because of the Clemson Family. Clemson family??? Yes, family, every member of the university is a part of the Clemson family and its existence. … So lets make a stop here and analyze this. So, I am from Germany, okay. I did not have a clue what everyone was talking about,… Clemson Family. What is this??? The life in Germany is so different and individualistic compared to the life in South Carolina. In Germany, everyone does what he or she wants to and what is best for them. Here on the other side, people are always, really always, friendly to each other. Everyone wants to help you and you don’t even know who those people are. Clemson family is the answer to the question. Being a part of a family means to help each other out, try to give advice, and look that everyone is well and alright. First, it was a cultural shock for me and I did not know how to handle all this welcomeness and support from everyone and everything.
Freshman Throwback: People I did not even know are greeting me walking to my classes, saying: “What’s up?” Not knowing what what’s up even means, I tried to figure out how to answer. Then when I finally knew what to say I look up and I only see the back of this friendly person. Like what?? Didn’t he want to talk to me? How I am? I was so confused. It happened to me over and over that people saw me in my Clemson sports clothes and asked me: What’s up? Yea what is up here? I don’t get it. Time passed and finally I asked my teammates what “What’s up” means and why one says it.
Definition: What’s uuuuuup? Means that I am pretending to be friendly to someone, but actually I do not care. I just felt the need of saying something to a random person walking by. Yea, that’s about my definition of whhhhhaaaat’s uuuup. It is so funny thinking back to those times where I really did not have a clue why people are saying things to me and what it actually means. My excuse is always: international problems.
This accent. If you don’t know, the southern accent is a very strong accent, and talking to people on the phone is and was not always easy, mostly when you are a German student athlete, who just came to the US to take on a new adventure. “Hey y’all. How ya doinnnn?” Oh well, tough times. Still, I developed and took on a Germerican southern accent, when my friend Kelly tells me once again: Romy say it! I am just thinking oh lord, this is going to be an embarrassment, because she always wants me to say it in front of other people that never heard a horrible Germerican southern accent. The laugh breaks out. Well at least I am a funny person. Haha
After this little throwback, I want to come back to the fact of the Clemson Family. As I said, at first it was weird and I did not know if all of these awesome people really wanted to help me, but they did want to. They wanted to help me in all I am doing, and I am so grateful for this experience, because it showed me that the Clemson family, really is a family. Mostly, in the sports world of Clemson, one always find someone who is there for you. It’s either a teammate, your coaches, an admin, another athlete, physical trainer, or maybe your strength coach. All of those people are there to support you and to be there in hard times. It is such a blessing to me that I am able to be a part of such an awesome group of people and to have the chance to call myself a Clemson Tiger.
Enough of the soppy talk. Hope you enjoyed some of my freshman insights. More about my Germerican life will follow soon. Then you will also get to know about my life as a student athlete. Season starts tomorrow.