Nick Crott, talks to us about his U.S. Education Experience

Nicholas outside Queens University, August 2015. Photo credit: Nick Crott.

This week marks the 16th Annual International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. Initially created so that America could inspire its students to travel abroad, IEW now encourages and supports foreign students interested in making the leap to study in the United States. Today IEW is celebrated in over 100 countries, including New Zealand.

Join us as we profile kiwi student experiences in America each day this week. Today we talk with Nicholas Crott.

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Name: Nicholas Crott

Age: 18

University & Location: Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Ave, Charlotte, NC

Year of study: Freshman

Course of Study: Sports Management

Involvements on Campus: Swimming

Why did you decide to study at Queens University of Charlotte?

I was always interested in the States because my mother and sister did high school AFS exchanges there. In fact it was my mother’s AFS sister who introduced us to the idea of Queens University of Charlotte, a Liberal Arts university in her town, and when I learned how good the Queens Swim team was (NCAA Div II National Men’s and Women’s Champions), and what Queens could offer me academically, it just all fell into place.

Queens University of Charlotte. Photo credit: Nick Crott .
Queens University of Charlotte. Photo credit: Nick Crott .

Describe your school/program socially and academically.

Queens University of Charlotte was founded in 1857 and is a small Liberal Arts university. There are 12 students to each academic staff member and class size average is 14. There are 18 men’s and women’s sports offered. I am enrolled in a Bachelor of Sports Management degree which is offered through the Kinesiology Department of Blair School of Health. Because it’s small I got to know lots of people really quickly, especially in my dorm and on the swim team. I have swim practice morning and afternoon and I have classes during the day. Because we all live on campus there are lots of activities for us to do here.

Describe your experience applying for admittance into American universities (e.g., SAT preparation, reaching out to schools, researching funding, writing essays, etc.).

There is a lot of paperwork to this process! There’s a lot of research – I had to provide all my courses studied and marks obtained right back to Year 8 and then get everything translated into a GPA score and also sit the SAT test. I also had to have a clear idea of exactly what I wanted out of this experience. My advice would be to start this process early as its takes a long time. And study for the SAT – there is a really good app to practice questions of the day.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits that you noticed in your region of America.

The culture here is very different to back home, something I’m still getting used to. Charlotte is in the southern part of the USA and there’s a strong southern accent and southern food is different – grits, biscuits and gravy, collard greens and southern fried chicken. I really like North Carolina ‘barbeque’. Charlotte is a modern and diverse city and its interesting mixing with so many different cultures. What I notice is most different is just very little things like certain adjectives used to describe things e.g. downtown Charlotte is called ‘uptown’.

 What is it like being an international student on campus? In your community?

Queens University of Charlotte values diversity, actively recruits international students and looks after them when they arrive so I’ve been very fortunate to be part of that. There are students here from 40 different countries so I’m definitely not ‘unique’! However, I’m also really pleased that there is one other kiwi on campus – it’s comforting and reinsuring to retreat into our own culture from time to time.

Masters swimmer Jerry Clark talks to the Queens swim team – Nicholas is in the middle with cap, goggles and drink bottle. Photo credit: Nick Crott
Masters swimmer Jerry Clark talks to the Queens swim team – Nicholas is in the middle with cap, goggles and drink bottle. Photo credit: Nick Crott

 What has been your biggest challenge and biggest highlight since living in America?

Biggest challenge so far has been contacting back home, finding a time that I can communicate with friends and family. I don’t think I have one highlight. I’ve had a lot of good times. I went to a concert a couple weeks ago, went to Atlanta for the weekend just recently, and I’m off to Virginia for Thanksgiving and Florida for Christmas! I want to head to a basketball game soon and there are a few other things on my list too! So many opportunities.

Have you thought about your plans post-graduation? How will your time in the USA help your career?

At the moment I’m just trying to concentrate on getting through this next semester. I’m keen to return home when I graduate, and put what I’ve learnt here about Sports Management into practice. I also see however that there’d be many opportunities here in the USA too. The big thing I’ve learnt so far is that because there are so many people in the USA you have to make your own ‘luck’ by working hard a being just that bit better than everyone else – being an all-round person. Queens values service to the community as well as academic and sporting excellence and that’s a great base for life after university.

What advice can you offer to New Zealanders hoping to study in the US in the future?

Have a really clear idea of what you want and plan ahead, do your homework so you can choose the best region or State and college for you – big city vs. small town makes a big difference to your experience. Know what you want to study and mostly be prepared for it to be different. If you are not going to like things being different to New Zealand then stay home because you will be unhappy. If you want to embrace doing new things or even just doing old things in new ways then go for it!

How have you managed sports, academics, and social life?

Swimming is easy to manage – coaches expect you to show up, and that’s exactly what you do. Studying is a bit trickier; however with a bit of planning it is also very manageable. I’ve found if I organise my time, it makes things a lot easier. And anyone who knows me knows that social life is probably where I excel. I’ve found that my biggest asset is my accent! In all seriousness though, Americans are really friendly and curious about New Zealand and it’s been fantastic that they have involved me in their activities.

For Kiwi students interested in playing sports at an American university, what would you recommend for them to do in order to place themselves in a favorable position?

A lot of people hook up with an agent to assist them with the process. I didn’t because I knew I wanted to go to Queens but it was still a lot of work for me (well my mother, really!) Approach the coach at the university you are interested in early and then once you’ve committed train your butt off because you want to be in the best position when you get here. Then you’ll have a great base to really make the most of the experience. Most importantly, stay in the coaches good books.

 Finish the sentence: I believe international education is important because…

it challenges your thinking by opening up a wider perspective on the world – differing points of view, the opportunities that are available, and it also helps you value home and what’s important to you.

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Are you thinking about studying in America? There are thousands of opportunities for motivated students! Connect with EducationUSA New Zealand on Facebook (facebook.com/educationusanz) and Twitter (@educationusanz), and be sure to check out our free resources (nz.usembassy.gov) available to help you get started!

International Education Week 2015.
International Education Week 2015.