BY MARCUS MITCHELL
With about 1400 international students from 140 different countries, it’s no wonder why UT prides itself on diversity. This different cultures and languages are felt across campus, especially on the courts and fields. With athletes from countries as far as Malaysia and as close as Haiti, the athletic department ensures that every possible recruit can hear what UT and the city of Tampa has to offer. And while these international athletes all share the same title as Spartans, they all took different paths to get here.
How did you first hear about UT and why did you choose to be a Spartan?
Caroline Frykgard, Sophomore,W. Soccer Goalkeeper, Sweden:
I saw a flyer for an organization called Blue Chip and they organized a day to come and practice and get information about going to the US for soccer. The former head coach of UT was there that day and we got along really well. He offered me to come and play for the school and I accepted.
Bay Downing, Sophomore, M. Soccer Defender, England:
I had an agent who was with me in England and he sent my video of my highlights to coaches across the US. I came here to tryout and they asked me to come. It wasn’t a hard decision for me with the facilities and the business program also had a great reputation which made my decision a lot easier.
Fatin Amin, Senior, W. Golf, Malaysia:
My friend told me about Tampa and I decided to look into it. I started my recruiting process at a bad time. A lot of college coaches turned me down because they has already recruited new players. When I contacted Coach Jones, she was willing to give me a scholarship to play for her. I fell in love with the school when I came for my official visit and that same day I verbally committed to play.
How different is Tampa compared to back home?
Ramzi Toure, Freshman, M. Soccer Defender, Norway:
The lifestyle is very different from back home in Norway. I feel people are more relaxed and spend more time on recreational activities. In Norway, the pace is much faster and people don’t spend that much time out unless on weekends.
Maya Matouk, Freshman, W. Soccer Forward, Trinidad:
Living in the states, specifically Tampa, wasn’t such a dramatic transition for me. The weather being relatively the same did not affect my training. I always trained by myself on my days off in Trinidad, so daily training here at UT wasn’t new to me. The biggest adjustment not having to close-knit family with me. I am fortunate to have met a lot of new friends here and to have daily contact with my family in Trinidad.
Marcelo Ruediger, Junior, M. Basketball Center, Brazil:
I have been in the US for five years now so I’m pretty used to the lifestyle here. But I could say that I miss the food a lot. Also, the culture a little bit. I have the feeling that in Brazil, even though we have a lot more problems than in the states, we have more freedom and people are just more friendly and affectionate in general.
Other than friends and family, what do you miss most about home?
Monty Berrow, Sophomore, M. Soccer Forward, England:
I miss the football (soccer) back home most, they show the game shere but it’s just not the same atmosphere. I used to go to every Chelsea game. It’s weird that American football, basketball and baseball are more popular than football here. I don’t like it, football should be number one.
I miss Carnaval a lot and New Year’s in Brazil, especially in Rio. And what I miss most about Rio is just the place itself. It is a gorgeous place with beautiful nature and a huge city at the same time. There is always so much going on and so much to do, it’s just full of good energy and positive vibes.
Fredinho Mompremier, Freshman, M. Soccer Midfielder, Haiti:
I miss everything. There’s no place like home, home is home. That’s the place you will always be in love with and never abandon, no matter what.
How difficult was it to overcome the language barrier?
Elena de Alfredo, Junior, W. Basketball Guard, Spain:
That probably was the worst part because two years ago I couldn’t speak English at all. I had a hard time because I depended on everybody to do anything. I just tried to stay with English-spoken people, I tried to read a lot of books, and it took me around two months to start to understand when people were speaking. I am very talkative and independent so that was definitely the worst part that I had to overcome. It was a necessity to be able to communicate with people.
I struggled a little bit. Mostly with the slang and still a lot of vocabulary, but other than that I think it has been pretty fine. Once I heard [the slang], I learned but I just didn’t know them when I came here.
Not speaking the language in the beginning was hard. Lee Academy (Ruediger’s Maine high school) was very receptive since it was a small school and it has a lot of foreign students. I wasn’t the only one struggling with English. I had professors willing to help me and give me extra time and help for assignments and work.
What food do you miss the most? Is there any new food you’ve tried?
I think it would definitely be Nasi Lemak. It’s a national dish. It’s coconut rice topped with spicy chili paste, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers, nuts and fried anchovies. As far as food here, I like chicken tenders. I never knew that was a thing until I came here. Especially when you start dipping it in different kind of sauces. That was the kicker.
I would definitely have to say curry. I always look forward to going home because I know I would be able to get this freshly prepared by my mom.
I especially miss Dad’s home-cooked meals. [My favorite is] salmon with roasted vegetables and Dad’s fish sauce. I like Cheesecake factory and Oxford Exchange down the street; they both have really good food, also fresh kitchen. The US [has] some really good burgers though.
What are your plans after graduation?
Elena de Alfredo:
I first want to play professionally overseas, and after that I would definitely think about coming back to the States. I am very focused on the present, which is my senior year at the University of Tampa.
I’m actually going home for six months to take a break. Mostly to focus on golf, caddy for my brother who is a currently playing professional golf, and helping out my parents. I am coming back to the states in January next year to do a golf management degree in California.
My plan is to return to Trinidad and start a small business. I plan to continue training with the national team and represent my country.
That’s a hard one. It depends you know, because you don’t know what tomorrow might bring. But first I aspire to become a professional player after graduation. That’s my dream, my goal.