Sign the last papers, pack your suitcase and head to a new stage. September was different for Blanca de Arvizu Sarrias, April 2003, and Leyre Antoñanzas Fernández, August 2003, two women from Navarra who decided to start a new stage in USA.
Live in another country, learn about cultures, travel and combine university studies with your sports dreams. The agency AGM awarded them a four-year sports scholarship, renewable annually by the athletes, at a university outside of Spain. “I wanted to combine high intensity sports with a career in Psychology and the agency gave me the opportunity. Now I am in Iowa, it was not my first option, but now I do not change it, ”says Antoñanzas from St Ambrose University, with a time difference of seven hours. The Navarrese lives at the university and, in principle, will stay there for four years. “The scholarship lasts that long, although I can decide what to do. Now I am living on campus and I do 90% of my life here, there are many activities and almost everyone resides here, there is a lot of atmosphere ”, he added.
From Alaska I picked up the phone Blanca de Arvizu, Navarre with a scholarship in athletics. “My specialty is the 100 meter hurdles, although I will also prepare myself in speed and in the 400 meters. I got the scholarship at the University of Alaska Anchorage thanks to AGM, although I chose the destination, “he said. His two coaches called him on the phone to tell him what the working method was. “I chose this university in October of last year after speaking with my two preparers. I made the first video call alone and then with my father and from the first moment they convinced me, they were very close, “he said. Its university is small and the city is “Like Pamplona”. “I think it’s better because there are 40 of us in the team and we have two coaches who manage to work with everyone. Also, I live in an apartment, on campus, with two of my team and we complement each other very well. Most of the people in my club live like this and it’s more comfortable to make plans and get together ”. The Navarrese was afraid of the Alaskan cold. “People told me that I was going to have a bad time, but it is not like that, it is worth it. Anchorage has beautiful landscapes and I have to highlight the teachers here, they are very good, “he added before going to study Civil Engineering, his career.
Traveling to a new country is being exciting, the two have integrated very well. “I know two Spanish athletes who study at my university, one of them is from Barcelona and nothing on my team and the other is my roommate, she is from Madrid and plays soccer,” says Antoñanzas. The adaptation has been easy. “Everybody wants you to be okay it’s like being at home. There are many people who are in the same situation and that helps you, we share the same culture shock, “he added.
In Anchorage, Alaska, de Arvizu does not know Spanish athletes who do athletics at his university. “There is a girl who does archery, but it is in another city. What I like the most is that here everyone is important, there is no one who feels that he is behind the rest, “he said. The routine is different from that of Spain. “I used to train at the Club Pamplona Atlético, a fantastic club, but it was difficult for me to combine the schedules with the training sessions. Here I learn English, we travel a lot and they take sport and studies into account. My teachers dedicate more time to me if I need it, they explain things to me separately and are interested in me beyond my studies, that is being very important. My coaches do it too, they both understand the whole, ”he says.
The distance and the time difference are the most complicated aspects. “At first it was tough, especially the first three weeks. I felt that I was very far from my parents and my friends and above all in another country and with another language, but now I have been there for three months and I am very integrated, I feel very comfortable, “explained Antoñanzas. Orcoyen’s already thinking about the December holidays. “Social networks help a lot, besides at Christmas I have more than a month and a bit of holidays and I am going to return to Spain to be with my family. In January I will return to the US until May, which is when the school year ends, and I will return to Spain all summer. It is much easier that way, they are periods of four months ”, she said, relieved.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
The two Navarrese coincide, “It’s the best we’ve ever done.” “People who feel they want to have a university degree, without neglecting their sport, have to come. Sometimes it is difficult and that is why I think it is not an experience for everyone, but if someone considers it, they have to cross the pond ”, said Antoñanzas. The Navarrese feels that she is growing. “I am meeting a lot of people, learning English and living and understanding other cultures,” he added.
De Arvizu does not doubt it. “I would encourage people to come, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to like sports.” It also highlights workouts. “They are very tough, but there is a team spirit that I had never experienced in Spain. The Athletics It is not individual, the whole team has to do well to qualify and that makes you receive the support of everyone. It’s different and that’s why I think people should try it, it makes you learn and makes you more independent. Yes I miss Spain, but now I have another life ”, he said goodbye from Alaska.