When I was 13, my family moved to the United States. I was thrown into a completely new school system, having previously attended only European systems. On my first day of high school, I attended an orientation session with my new classmates. Pretty much the only thing I went away with from this session is the notion that I just had to get involved! I did not really know what that meant and little did I know how many activities existed at my high school! Once I saw the list, I was in awe. Different clubs existed from an equestrian to a cup cake club! Pretty much every sport imaginable had a team at my school, from bowling to water polo. Growing up in Germany and Austria, I wasn’t used to this many after school activities, and especially not how big of a part they played in the high school experience. In Germany, I was part of an “English Club”, which met about twice a month for an hour after school. We sang English songs but it wasn’t very serious. This club was completely innovative and only formed during my last year of grade school. I’m sure by now it is possible that more clubs exist and that they are more frequent, but I am positive that they do not play the same role as they do in America.
Especially different is how sports teams are formed. In Germany, if someone is interested in playing a sport they join an independent team or league. They are usually very serious players and skills are needed to join or make the team. These teams meet outside of school and are not affiliated with any schools at all. I was so surprised when I saw how many different teams my high school had! I decided to join the swim and the water polo team and absolutely loved it! Most years no one had to be cut from the teams, which was great for me since I wasn’t too good at either sport. It was great being able to form such a close bond with my teammates and getting to know people I did not have classes with. However, it also was very time consuming. It is great that such an importance is placed on getting involved, but I also had barely any time to see friends during the week or focus on anything other than school and my activities. I did miss having more free time and at times I had trouble balancing everything as we had practice daily and I was also taking very demanding classes. I do believe that it was all worth it, since I loved every second I spent at my activities and I know that my involvement helped me get accepted at a great college!