Student Stories

Busy But Having Fun – A Chat with Baseball Player Thijs Rijpstra at Bay College

Bay College is a two-year community college located in Escanaba, Michigan. Located near the northern shores of Lake Michigan, winters are cold, but that hasn’t stopped Dutch student-athlete Thijs Rijpstra from enjoying himself. Since arriving in September 2023, Thijs has jumped right into student life and spends his time studying, practicing and hanging out with his roommates.

Prior to studying in the US, Thijs completed an MBO Sport and Movement program at Curio in Breda and played for Twins Baseball Club in Oosterhout. He had dreamed of playing baseball in the US since he was a kid and as he got older, he knew that combining athletics with a college study was the best way forward. He’s now a proud Norse student-athlete and can’t wait for the baseball  season to really get started.

Thijs dreamed of playing baseball in the US

Baseball is a spring sport but the baseball team has been practicing since September. In the fall, the team practices outside 6x a week. Classes take place throughout the week until 2 pm and then the Norsemen have time to quickly change, eat and hit the field from 3 pm – 6pm.

In the weekend they often have a double-header, leaving them one day to rest. During the winter months, the focus is on strength and conditioning in the gym and on schoolwork. The team often meets each day for an hour to work on homework together. After the winter break, practice picked up again and Thijs is busy 6 days a week in the indoor hall. He’s now looking forward to Spring Training, where the team heads to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for a week to compete against other teams before the season starts for real.

Thijs has settled in nicely at Bay College, he was familiar with the culture and language and has made friends easily.

He shares an appartment with three of his teammates – they have a big kitchen, a huge American refridgerator, a lot of space and spend their free time doing homework, watching series, or chilling on the couch.

The more structured school day did take some getting used too though! Thijs is studying for an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts which means that he is enjoying a broad range of subjects instead of focusing on one sector, as he did in his MBO.

“The experience is so much more than you ever imagined” 

This is Thijs’ first year and when asked what is enjoying most, he says it’s the “new experiences, the adventure you embark on, learning to live independently and really getting the most out of life.”

He would recommend it to anyone – you broaden your horizons, learn a new culture/language/way of life, meet new friends and “experience so much more than you ever imagined.”

Some of it good – the people, sports opportunities and new places, and some of it less fun – budgeting for groceries, for example!

Thijs was happy to have UStudy to help him through the presentation to coaches, selection of suitable colleges and study programs, and the preparation stage – helping him work towards deadlines and getting all the documents in order. “It’s a reassuring feeling to know once you step in the airplane, you have all you need so you don’t need to stress and can just enjoy yourself once you arrive in the US.”  We wish Thijs a great baseball season and Go Norse!!

We wish Thijs a great baseball season and Go Norse!!

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