Sanne Bloemendaal: “My years at Drew have helped me develop as a student, an athlete, and a person”
I am a senior at Drew University, a small liberal arts college right outside of New York City. I am majoring in International Relations and Business with a minor in Law, Justice, and Society.
I am currently the captain of the women’s tennis team, president of the International Student Association at Drew, and work as a writing tutor. I have experienced some really great things during my years at Drew so far which have helped me develop as a student, an athlete, and a person. Being a student-athlete at a division 3 school has allowed me to find the balance between academics, sports, and social life.
I cannot thank UStudy enough for helping me find Drew. I remember the first time I thought about studying abroad, I knew I wanted to study in the United States, preferably close to New York, but how was I going to do that?
I fooled myself into thinking that I was not good enough to play a college sport but during my intake meeting with UStudy, Marina showed me the different divisions that American colleges compete in.
She put me in contact with several division 2 and division 3 coaches for soccer and tennis. Coaching days organized by UStudy helped me a lot with how to approach meetings with coaches, the process of applying to an American college and applying for a visa.
I do not think my parents and I could have ever figured this out on our own. We eventually decided that Drew was the best way to go for what I was looking for as I could play tennis, soccer, and study International Relations at a college an hour from New York City.
The small size of Drew allowed me to have the best relationships with my professors. I love how close I am to my professors and how much they care, not only about my academics, but also my career and development as a person. Even though Drew itself is small, it is located close to one of the biggest cities in the world. I love New York and I often can go into the city with my friends.
Meet diplomats and talk about their experiences in the field of international relations
I recently started my senior year and am enrolled in an off-campus experimental learning course at the United Nations in New York City.
This is a program provided by Drew in which a select number of students are allowed to experience the field of international relations in the atmosphere of the United Nations.
I travel with my fellow students into New York every Tuesday and Thursday to the United Nations. We have lectures, listen to host speakers, and have discussions in a classroom in one of the United Nations buildings.
We meet diplomats and talk about their experiences in the field every week and sometimes get invited to meetings and conferences around, and in the UN as well.
This has been an amazing experience for me thus far, as it allows me to peek into the real field of international relations. It has also opened the door to many internship opportunities for me.
Being a student-athlete was a little bit overwhelming at first
I started out as a dual athlete in soccer and tennis, and this was something I had to adjust to the most as an international student. School and sports are separated back home in the Netherlands, however, in the United States, you can be a student-athlete which means you will be playing your sport for your school.
Being a student-athlete was different for me and it was a little bit overwhelming at first. From the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed I tried to figure out how I was going to write that paper between classes and 2-hour long practices, while also making sure I had the right eating schedule. This was not something I was used to, but once I got the hang of it, I was really enjoyed it.
Being a student-athlete has taught me so many skills, my time management, teamwork, and leadership skills have benefitted from this experience.
“I felt so proud to be a Drew Ranger”
Unfortunately, my first tennis season was cut short due to Covid, and it was my junior year in which I experienced my first full tennis season.
We ended that season by winning the landmark championships and being invited to the NCAA regional tournament.
This experience was amazing, and I still feel the adrenaline going through my body when I think about the day that we won the finals. It was a day that I truly felt like I belonged at Drew as a student-athlete, and I had never felt such a pride and excitement before.
All the hard work that we put in individually, and as a team collectively was being rewarded. In that moment, I felt so proud to be a Drew Ranger.
Our dynamic has made me feel at home and this reflects in our performance on the court
My favorite part about Drew tennis is the feeling of belonging to a family. Every Spring break we go to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with the women’s and men’s tennis team.
We spend the week practicing, playing matches, and going to the beach and this is always a big bonding experience with our teammates, especially with the freshmen. We are a very close team and often go out to dinners or hang out.
We also have amazing coaching staff that care about us as both athletes and as people. As an international on the team, I can say that our dynamic has made me feel at home and this reflects in our performance on the court. I feel like such a family feeling is very special and has helped us to success.
It was in my junior spring that I told my soccer coach I was not going to play soccer during my senior year. I decided that as a captain of the women’s tennis team, I wanted to fully commit to tennis. This is the sport I feel most comfortable playing and get the most joy out of, but it was a hard decision to stop playing soccer after so many years.
At first It felt like I was giving up, however, I realized that I was not giving up, instead I was choosing myself and prioritizing the things that I wanted to put all my energy into. My parents always told me to take every opportunity I can get and do the things that I love; they have always supported me along the way.
“I am proud to call this place a home away from home”
Being so far away from home can be difficult sometimes. Of course, there are facetime calls, but that does not always give me the warmth of a family feeling.
Nevertheless, the Drew community has made me feel so at home since the day that I got here.
I have been living on campus with my teammates and friends for three years now and I am proud to call this place a home away from home. Two of my roommates are visiting me upcoming winter break for two weeks.
I am so excited to show them the Netherlands and have them meet all my friends and family.