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“I came to the United States for the first time in August 2017. When I left, I spoke and understood little English, but spending 24 hours a day with my classmates, I learned quickly and made several friends. Now I’m in the fourth semester, practically halfway through the journey to graduate and I can say that the American experience has taught me many things: to be independent, to know myself, to relate better with other people and to start thinking about what to do with my future (understood as a career and life choices). I left that I had never done the washing machine on my own or the groceries without someone telling me what to buy. Now, after two years, I do all these things, I live in a house with my friends where we are able to carefully manage our daily chores and personal commitments of study and sport. This experience has definitely made me grow and I wouldn’t go back for any reason.”

In the first words of Nicole Pivetti, Student-Atlhete at Pace University (New York), we already find several answers that we were looking for. Independence, autonomy, friendship, confrontation, are the values that young people who leave to study in the United States often manage to cultivate.

Sports and study: what differences have you noticed in particular both in terms of studies and the game that arrived in the United States? Before starting my journey in America, I attended the “Marco Biagi” University of Economics in Modena for six months, which I literally gave up to leave. I can’t say I know the Italian academic system best, but I did notice something. In Italy I was in a class of 200 people, while here the teacher-student ratio is 25/30 to 1. Professors, therefore, are much more available and open to discussion: if an assignment has gone wrong, they are always ready to find a way for you to recover. A direct relationship is created aimed at favoring or rather facilitating the life of the student and not the other way around as often happens with us. At Pace University, there is an excellent career services, which is the office in charge of facilitating and directing the student’s career. There are many opportunities for internships (here they are called internships) also because many professors, in the case of the economic sector in particular, are businessmen and therefore are constantly looking for potential talents among students.

So much for studying, and what about sports? When I was in high school in Modena I often heard that a bad grade corresponded to the many hours I dedicated to volleyball and that I took away from studying. On the contrary, here in America, professors particularly value Student-Athletes, describing them as model students. When due to a game or a tournament, I am unable to be present in class, the professors are always available to find a way for me to make up for the lesson I missed. At the same time, our coach monitors our academic progress and if our grades are below a certain average, we are assigned mandatory hours at the tutoring center. (The tutoring center is a service offered by the school in which numerous tutors work for all subjects, with whom you can make an appointment to deepen, do homework or prepare for an exam).

We’ve asked all of our interviewees, and we’re asking you too. What is your typical day like? This semester (Spring Semester), my typical day is a bit complicated, as two days a week I take the train at 7 a.m. to go to New York City (it takes about 40 minutes from my college) and do my internship at MaxMara. I work until 6 p.m., go back to college, and work out from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Instead, on the other two days I go to class, do weight training and then volleyball. On Fridays, on the other hand, I have weights at 6.30 in the morning and “conditioning” a workout that basically consists only of sprints and running, for forty minutes.

I honestly believe that it is not easy to match the academic experience with the sporting one, but it is certainly possible. Here, moreover, I learned to better manage my time: if I know that I have a task to turn in by Sunday evening, I do it during the week, so on Sunday I am free to go out with my friends and enjoy my day off. It seems trivial but I have acquired that “time management” ability that I did not have before.

To conclude, you have already answered us on your own, but we want to ask you directly: do you think this experience has improved you as a person? It will definitely leave me with an awareness of the person I am and how much I am worth. This experience, as I have already said, has made me much more adult and independent and I don’t see it as an adventure, but as the beginning of a journey. I hope to be able to live here in New York in the future. Here I have found wonderful people and friends, I have an extraordinary relationship with the team, a special bond that has made me grow, that has given me and is giving me so much. It is a period of life that leaves something inside you, an open eyes, it makes you meet people different from those you might meet in Italy and makes you see life from new perspectives.

It is an experience that I recommend from a human, sporting, academic and professional point of view. Here you can build an important future!