I was lying on my bed.

I shared my room with another girl. The room was tiny barely fitting two beds, two desks and two cupboards. It felt cold. Bare floors and walls out of stone. A small window with steel bars like in a prison so no one could escape or come in.

Loud noise outside. I was tired from waking up every morning at 3:45am and not being able to sleep before midnight. I was exhausted from the training followed by classes and homework until late into the night trying to compensate for what I missed during class from the language barrier.

But that was not the worst. The worst was what I never felt before. Loneliness.

I never felt so lonely in my life. When I came to this place, I was hoping to fulfill my dream to play Volleyball and be part of this Hollywood image from the TV shows. But instead I fell into a nightmare of discrimination, racism, gun violence and abuse. My dad was right; it was a different world. Yes, I might not be discriminatory but this was the other way around.

Only few people spoke to me or wanted to have anything to do with me. The girls did not speak to me because I was a threat to them in regards to the boys and the guys did not speak to me because they knew the girls would get jealous. On top of that came the language and culture barrier and due to a tight schedule and a strong tiredness I had no time and no energy to interact with anyone.

Of course not everyone was like this and I found a good friend who ignored the norms of this university. But it was very tough to make friends.

A strong feeling of loneliness built up throughout the weeks – a feeling that was destructive to my confidence, my extroverted nature and my enthusiasm for life. One of the basic needs of every human being is feeling respected and appreciated. If that is taken away from someone, the purpose for life is questioned.

This situation brought up important questions about life, especially the interactions to others in the past.  Was I giving and receiving the respect and love that is so important in life which until now have taken for granted? Or was I just chasing a career, status and money that is perceived as the fulfillment of life?

Whatever the answer to my past was, I had one for the future. I had to change my view on life.