Emma Jenneskens of Meerlo

Not everyone who grows up in Horst aan de Maas will continue to live here. HELLO Horst aan de Maas speaks in the series Uit…Horst aan de Maas with former residents of Horst aan de Maas who followed their dreams and found themselves outside our municipal boundaries. In this episode, Emma Jenneskens (23) from Meerlo and currently living in Commerce, located in Texas, America.

The fact that Emma has been in Commerce, a small student town near Dallas, Texas, for six months already has a sporting cause. “Playing volleyball brought me here,” says Emma from Meerlos. She has been playing volleyball since childhood. Until she was just 16 in Meerlo, then she left for Peelpush in Meijel, where the women’s team plays in the Dutch Eredivisie. “I played here until last year. After finishing my medical degree, I wanted to do something different before starting my internships. Emma already knew from former teammates and girlfriends that there were special foreign scholarships to play volleyball and study. “I thought: ‘Leave it to me’ when I was approached by a Dutch company that organized the mediation,” says Emma. Soon, she was frequently approached by various schools across America. “It was fun to FaceTime the coaches at these schools and learn about the possibilities. So it’s important to do what’s right for you and listen to what you want. I also wanted to play volleyball at the highest level. level. With the click between the coaches and the other girls on the team, it was something that weighed the most for me. It resulted in the choice that ultimately fell on Texas A&M University in the small town of Trade.

Different sports experience

In August, Emma packed her bags and flew to her new home. It took some getting used to, she says. “Especially the people and the food are very different here than in Meerlo,” she laughs. “There is so much fast food here. The sports experience is also completely different. There’s a lot of time, money and energy in sport here. In the Netherlands I went to school and played volleyball, which were completely separated from each other. If I had a game in Sneek in the evening, I had to make sure I was back at Maastricht University the next day. It was my own responsibility. “It’s a bit different in America. School and volleyball are completely in sync here,” Emma says. “We had games in New Orleans on a Tuesday. and on a Thursday We are transported here and we sleep in a hotel, you are just gone for a week Emma indicates that this is taken into account at school All athletes have a coordinator who informs teachers when students have competitions. “Agreements are made in advance about testing and when we travel somewhere the study times are just scheduled. I liked school in the Netherlands more, but I think the combination of studies and sport is better organized here.


All of this ensures that Emma trains up to 20 hours a week during the volleyball season. “There is a season of fall and spring. At the moment the new season has not started yet, but as some tournaments have been organized for the spring season, it will be busier again from next week,” she explains. “Currently, I weight train three times a week and practice volleyball twice a week. Once the busiest phase arrives, I train every morning and do weight training every after- noon.

Because the season hasn’t started yet, Emma has had a bit more free time in the past period. She often goes out with friends. “Everyone lives at or near the school, so we often eat together in the evenings. There is always something to do.” Still, Emma saw even less than she wanted. This is mainly due to the lack of public transport (public transport). “It’s hard that I don’t have car, because there is simply no public transport here. If you want to go to Dallas, you have to drive. Otherwise you won’t make it. I’m enjoying public transport in the Netherlands again,” she laughs. “We are well organized in this area in the Netherlands.”

Another thing that Emma learned to appreciate again during her time in the United States is Dutch cuisine. “There’s so much fast food here,” she says. “Even by top athletes. When we are away for a tournament or a match, the coaches have to feed us as soon as we get on the bus. People eat almost exclusively in fast food restaurants. Americans don’t think it’s crazy, but it doesn’t make me happy.” So Emma wasn’t thrilled when she got on the bus at 10 a.m. and her coach was ready with a McDonalds breakfast “I found it really difficult,” she says. “I like healthy foods a lot. It’s fun at first, but after a while you get used to it.”


So when Emma came to visit her family in the Netherlands at Christmas, she was able to enjoy a simple Dutch dish like potatoes, meat and vegetables (AVG). “I also lost a few pounds very quickly in the month I was here,” she says. “It was also nice to be with my parents again and see my girlfriends again, I had really missed them. It was also nice not having to think while talking. Nice dialect, because that’s what I speak with my family and friends. In America, my best friends are internationals. They are from Brazil and Mexico, so I always speak English there. It takes some time to get used to switching from Dutch to English and vice versa after one month.


In 2.5 months, Emma’s adventure in Texas will come to an end. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do next. “I would like to travel across America before returning to the Netherlands. I want to see New York and at the end of the semester I’m going to San Francisco. A friend and former teammate of mine plays there, who does the same as me here.

Emma’s internships will begin later this year, in September. “Then student life is a bit over and I’m super busy. The obligation to be a student no longer exists. So I’m going to stop playing volleyball and go live in rooms in Maastricht. It’s crazy to ‘to stop something that I’ve done so much for so long, but on the other hand it’s been good too. I won’t have time for that anymore. It’s okay and I’m ok with that.’

Nevertheless, Emma looks forward to this period. “I really want to be a doctor and that’s just part of it.” However, the wanderlust has not yet ended, as Emma would also like to do an internship abroad. “But I’m not sure yet, it just depends on how the wind is blowing. One day I think ‘I want to live in the Netherlands’ and the next day I’m more attracted to foreign countries. My future is still completely open and I will see it with the time and opportunities I still have in my life.

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