Jacobs student Andrew Fiocco represents Germany at bench pressing world championship
Andrew Fiocco, himself weighing 66.9 kilograms, mastered 150 kilograms in March - his personal best and a German record in bench pressing. ,


May 9, 2018

His back rests on a bench, his feet support him and his hands clasp the barbell. For some two seconds, the weights are on his chest. Then comes the hard part - lifting the weight high into the air with straight arms. Andrew Fiocco, himself weighing 66.9 kilograms, mastered 150 kilograms in March - his personal best and a German record in bench pressing. This success garnered him a nomination for the world championship. In November Andrew, who is studying “International Relations: Politics and History” at Jacobs University Bremen, will represent Germany in the US, his native country.

Bench pressing builds up the chest muscles with the sport enjoying popularity in the United States and many other countries. “I love the challenge of seeing how far I can go and what I can achieve. I enjoy the sport - it makes me happy,” says Andrew. The 20-year old trains for a good twelve hours a week at a fitness center in Bremen. Sport is a firm part of his daily life: push-ups, stretches and sit-ups. He also keeps a close eye on what he eats: no sweets, no soft drinks. Instead, he focuses on lots of vegetables, fruit, egg whites and water. “You have to know what you need when it comes to nutrition. The better and healthier you eat, the more highly you can perform, including mentally. It’s good for both sport and successful learning.”

, Andrew Fiocco is studying “International Relations: Politics and History” at Jacobs University Bremen

Andrew was born in Brooklyn in New York. At the age of three, he moved to Cheshire, a typical North American small town in the state of Connecticut with his parents. He has neither ancestors nor relatives from Germany but was interested in the country and its language from an early age already. He is not sure where his interest comes from and says it’s more of a gut feel than anything else: “At school I wanted to take German as a foreign language, but my mother said that I would never need it. So, I took Spanish instead.”

But his interest in the far away, foreign country remained. After graduating from school, he was researching study opportunities in Germany on the Internet and came across Jacobs University’s website. “Its diversity and internationality immediately appealed to me. I said: if I don’t try, I will never know what it’s like there.” So, he applied - and was accepted.

In August 2016, the then 18-year old landed at the airport in Hamburg. It was his first trip outside of the United States. His language skills did not extend much beyond “How are you?” and “Where is the bathroom?”. That has now changed. Andrew speaks excellent German although English is generally spoken at Jacobs University. His friends, whom he got to know while doing sports, helped him as did his host family whom he visits regularly. Families in Bremen act as host of families for Jacobs University and assist students in familiarizing themselves with living in Germany. “They are like a second family for me,” says Andrew.

Jacobs University, he says, is a great place with a fantastic community and is achievement-oriented with high academic demands. He is also active for the University outside of his studies, for example as speaker of the students’ own governing body, the Undergraduate Student Government. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Andrew. An exception is his internship that he will be completing in the summer most likely in Beijing as part of his studies, which are now almost complete: Andrew will be writing his Bachelor’s thesis next year. He is not sure what will come next - a Masters perhaps. “It’s quite possible that I will stay in Germany.”

But first, he will do something completely different: the world championship in bench pressing in November. An “interesting situation” is what Andrew calls the fact that he will compete for Germany in Florida as an American. In this case, this is not due to nationality, but due to him studying at a German university. Andrew will have to train hard to improve, that is clear. He will have to lift 10 kilograms more than he did in the German Championships, if he wants to win first place. And that is precisely what he wants to do. “The difficult thing is lifting heavier weights without putting on weight yourself,” he says. Andrew is certain that he can do it: “I believe in myself.”

This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University is featuring students, alumni, professors and employees. For more stories, please have a look at www.jacobs-university.de/faces