BENDIGO'S Jack Bouwmeester describes his first few months at Michigan State University, where he has been signed as the Spartans punter, as 'a real eye opener'.
He expects nothing but the same when he makes his official debut for the Spartans against Tulsa on August 30.
And then there will be more 'eye-opening' moments when the Spartans play in some of college football's most hostile environments - in front of 100,000-plus fans in away games against Ohio State University and Michigan State, and more than 80,000 against Wisconsin.
For Bouwmeester, who has accepted a four-year football scholarship to play with Michigan State, each day since his arrival in East Lansing, Michigan, has been a mix of amazement, excitement and of course a myriad of challenges.
"It's pretty crazy ... training is very intense, but you just have to make the most of your opportunities," said Bouwmeester, who started studying in January.
"It's very full-on, which has been great. You have to adapt to everything pretty quickly.
"There was a fair bit of adjusting to things at the start.
"The weather was the big one - you don't get that consistent nice weather that you do in Australia. I remember one day we had a minus-40 wind-chill-day. The temperature was minus 26, but the wind-chill was minus-40.
"And you are always punting in wind, or have something else to contend with, which has been a challenge."
By far one of the greatest challenges so far for Bouwmeester has been breaking down the lingo barrier.
"I have had a few of the boys laugh at some of the things I say .... I find myself repeating things three or four times," he said.
"We all speak English, but the lingo is so different that I have to translate things."
Bouwmeester, a former Victorian under-age cricket representative and Sandhurst senior footballer, is back home in Bendigo until the start of the July on a study break.
He spent Monday night at training at the Bendigo Dragons Gridiron Club.
His Spartans team, under 13th year coach Mark Dantonio, will be looking for improvement after a 7-6 season in 2018.
They face a tough schedule, with their games against arch-rival Michigan, reigning Big Ten conference champions Ohio State, West Division champion Northwestern, and an always challenging Wisconsin, all away from home.
"It's a real tough schedule, with all those games within a five week period." he said.
"There will be 110,000 (people) at Ohio State and 110,000 at Michigan, and I am sure they won't like Aussie punters.
"I'll go back in July for summer workouts and in August we start full camp before we play Tulsa."
Bouwmeester is studying business at Michigan State.
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