Student Stories

Student-athlete interview: Eva van Wakeren, field hockey

When Eva moved to New York to pursue her dream of attending a university in the United States, she could never have imagined this place would mean so much more to her than just a university. It became a place she called home. Eva was a student-athlete on the field hockey team at Long Island University, a division l school located in downtown Brooklyn in New York City. In this interview she reminisces about some of her favorite memories and gives us a glimpse of what it is like to be a student-athlete in the United States.

Eva’s journey started in the summer of 2018 when she arrived two days before the start of pre-season, a period of 2-weeks in which the team prepares for the upcoming season. Her teammates invited her for a typical so-called movie night and they made sure she felt comfortable from the start. The transition from her home country to the United States meant adjusting to the American education system, dealing with language barriers and adapting to a new culture. However, the help and guidance provided by her coaches and teammates, professors and academic advisors, family and friends, and UStudy, made it possible for Eva to experience a very smooth transition.

Eva started with her classes as well as the regular season competition

After pre-season ended, Eva started with her classes as well as the regular season competition.

“Athletes are given priority when choosing classes so that they can organize their time in such a way that they can combine classes and practice in the most efficient manner”.

A typical week consisted of early-morning weight training sessions and field hockey practice from Tuesday to Thursday, a game on Friday evening, a relatively shorter and easier practice on Saturday, another game on Sunday, and a well-deserved (and mandatory) day off on Monday.

Eva was surprised by how well everything was organized and astonished by the professionalism reflected in their facilities such as their locker room, field hockey gear, and transportation vehicles (either by bus or even by airplane) but also in terms of social media attention.

Looking back at the season, Eva holds an impressive record on the varsity field hockey team at Long Island University. She was a three-time MAAC Rookie of the Week, finished third in the MAAC conference in goals scored, and started all 17 games at the midfield in her Rookie season for the Blackbirds.

According to Eva, the level of professionalism and team drive creates an inspiring and motivating environment in which student-athletes are encouraged to not simply perform well, but to really excel, on and off the field.

On top of working to be a better athlete on the field, Eva brought that same mentality to her academics. In doing so, she could always rely on the support of her coaches, academic advisors and professors by taking her field hockey schedule into account and providing study hall hours and tutoring if needed.

A dorm-room with two other teammates

She lived in a dorm-room with two other teammates in downtown Brooklyn. Her dorm-room included a kitchen, and other furniture necessities such as a bed, a desk, a couch, and two closets but shared the bathroom with the rest of the hall.

Her place was only a 15-minute walk from Brooklyn bridge and a 5-minute metro ride away from Soho. When Eva had some time off from field hockey practice and her studies, she would go to downtown New York with her teammates or friends to get a coffee, get lunch, or even go sight-seeing.

During thanksgiving her mother visited her in New York and they explored the Big Apple together. After the season ended, she made a trip to Virginia Beach to visit her teammate and even flew out to Curacao to meet up with one of her Dutch friends during spring break.

Personal growth

Throughout her time as a student-athlete at Long Island University, Eva acquired many transferable skills through both her studies and sports. She really felt that she became more independent, improved her teamwork and communication skills, and learnt how to turn challenges into opportunities for personal growth.

If someone would ask Eva why she would recommend studying abroad, she would answer:
“The experience itself is already enough reason to say yes, it is something that you simply cannot experience anywhere else, especially if you want to combine your studies with sports.”

You might wonder…

how do I end up attending the school of my dreams?

Well, UStudy can help students to find the perfect university based on your personal preferences both academically and athletic-wise. In Eva’s sophomore year of high school, she participated in the UStudy showcase and had meetings with UStudy’s Academic Adviser to discuss the possibilities and her preferences.

“Throughout the whole process the UStudy Team did not only help me explore possibilities with regards to finding a university, they also gave me structured steps of what was required in order to get admitted (such as writing personal essays, field hockey resumes, etc.), provided tutoring for the SAT test, helped translating transcripts, and even continued to help me when I arrived in Brooklyn.”

With UStudy’s knowledge and experience of the education system and field hockey system, Eva was able to attend the university of her dreams and experience a relatively smooth transition.

Eva’s advice to students that are interested in studying abroad is:
“When you start the process, you have to do your homework and determine what you really want. It is important that you choose a university that fits your own profile and have a good connection with the coach, team, and university.”

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