A Day in the Life of an International Student

Article by: Becky Hudson

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Lynn Dollekamp is a 24-year-old international student, whom recently graduated from Florida State College at Jacksonville with a bachelor’s degree in Converged Communications. Dollekamp, born and raised in the Netherlands, is first born out of three children. She is an all-star athlete who was on the winning team of the European Softball Championships in Italy when she was 17. With the love from her devoted parents, Dollekamp went on to play for the Dutch National softball team where she was approached to play at FSCJ with a full scholarship. In 2012, after much consideration, Dollekamp traveled to Jacksonville, FL to attend school, work and play softball, with full support from her family back in the Netherlands.

Playing softball in America has been one of my biggest dreams because softball, sports and athletics in general is a lot more popular in America. So I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to grow as a person and also as a softball player,” Dollekamp said.

A Whole New World…
Traveling so far from home to a new country, with no personal connections, had to be hard on Dollekamp. She admitted that the language barrier between herself and those around her was an obstacle to overcome. Dollekamp expressed having difficulty when writing papers for her classes because she “thought in Dutch and then translated to English.”

“It was really hard for me to adapt to the language when I first got to school here,” confessed Dollekamp. Although expressing to have trouble with the language barrier, her writing only showed a few grammar errors that, according to her professor Dr. Claire Rhodes, went away after time.

Lynn is probably one of the best students at multi-tasking and time management. Not only was she always prepared, but she was kind of freakishly early about everything. There was not a large assignment that she did not send me a draft for at least like 3 weeks in advance…Lynn is terrific!” Rhodes said.

Work, School and Play…
Dollekamp was originally sought after for her skills as a talented athlete, but she soon became an asset to the school as a student and even an employee. Dollekamp has worked with the athletic program at FSCJ and interned for the Director of Athletics, Ginny Alexander.

When asked about her time spent with Dollekamp, Alexander described her as “very personable, very compassionate, a very genuine person, but she’s also a great coach!” Alexander went on to say that, “she’s [Dollekamp] one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had, she’s one of the best interns I’ve ever had.”

Spending time both on and off the field with the athletic department was part of the enticement that brought Dollekamp to FSCJ, but for her to retain her full scholarship, there were certain scholarly milestones that had to be completed as well. After obtaining her associate degree, Dollekamp was left with the decision of which major to choose for her bachelor’s. This decision would be hard for anyone; however, international students have a distinct set of requirements they must follow. With so many of the bachelor’s degrees at FSCJ being offered through online courses, and the international student requirement of only 1 online class per semester, the options available were extremely limited.

“There’s a lot of restrictions that people don’t know about, that we have as international students. The reason for that is that most of the time international students struggle with the language and that’s why they [FSCJ] want to have the students in class and not online… I would never have picked this major in my life! I don’t like writing, first off. But honestly, being in this class and in this program [Converged Communications] has helped me a lot as a writer, made my English a lot better, and I don’t mind writing a lot as I used to,” Dollekamp said.

Photo by gadgetdude

Looking Forward to the Future
Now that Dollekamp’s time at FSCJ has come to an end, she is preparing for her return to the Netherlands. Unsure of what she may do when she returns, Dollekamp is eager to return to the home that she left five years ago, and the loving family that is awaiting her arrival. As a college graduate, she returns home with a whole new skill set and life experiences that have changed her forever.

“Being in America has been the greatest experience for me, and you learn so much more about different cultures, and you also learn a lot more about yourself. Being by yourself in a country without your family, you learn what you value, you learn to appreciate things back home more,” Dollekamp said.

Over the years that Dollekamp has spent at FSCJ, she has made incredible friendships with fellow students, faculty members and staff. Now that her time in this establishments has come to an end, she will be missed dearly by those who have had the pleasure to know her.

“She’s [Dollekamp] a great human being… she has a lot of talents. She is loved by everyone… I would love to have Lynn stay here on staff… I’m going to miss her a lot!” Alexander said.

“Lynn has kind of helped reinforce my faith in people being able to take on many roles, because she was also a coach and a student and she always excelled in that. It kind of just goes to show that even though you wear many hats, you can always be nice and respectful. She was always there to help all her classmates,” Rhodes recalls.

When Dollekamp was asked what advice she would give to students thinking of joining the international program, she encouraged,

“Just do it! Don’t hesitate, if you’re scared to go, that’s good! You should be scared, you should feel scared. Sometimes you’ve got to just take a leap of faith and go for it and you’ll see that it’s the best experience you’ll ever have!”

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