Valentin Horvat is a freshman on the men’s tennis team. He is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which helps give student-athletes a greater voice in the athletic department. In his first blog for InsideGSUSports, Horvat talks about playing tennis in a foreign country and making the transition to a new culture.
Living in a foreign country is always difficult. The experience involves an unfamiliar language, different customs and strange people or places. For international college student-athletes like me, the challenges can be particularly difficult to overcome. Language barriers make class discussions hard, cultural differences make everything new and an unfamiliar educational system makes a whole experience extremely difficult. Despite these hardships, going to college in America allows me to experience things I never would have otherwise, such as meeting students from different countries, backgrounds, living a different culture, playing college sports and many others.
I came to Georgia State at the end of August and as soon as our assistant coach Cesar Vargas picked me up from the airport I liked the city of Atlanta. When I arrived on campus everyone was very friendly and helpful. I had to do a lot of things when I arrived like visiting International Student Services, getting my Panther ID, signing up for classes, getting a U.S. phone number, opening up an American bank account and many others things. Cesar was so nice to take me to all those places and help me with everything.
I have visited the United States before and always really liked people here because everyone was so nice and open-minded, and I can say the same for people here at Georgia State. I have been here now for three months already and what I like about my experience here the most is that the whole men‘s tennis team gets along really well and that we are a close team. Our head coach Joerg Barthel and assistant coach Cesar Vargas are great coaches and really help us a lot on and off the court. Our team goals this year are to win a Sun Belt Conference title and to improve our national ranking which is No. 61 at the moment.
When I was chosen to represent men‘s tennis team in SAAC I didn’t even know what it was and what I had to do because we have nothing similar to this back home. Now I enjoy going to the meetings and I like the fact that student-athletes can have an influence on our athletic department and decisions they make.
I come from Ljubljana which is a capital city of a small two million people country in central Europe. Slovenia borders Croatia on south, Italy on west, Austria on north and Hungary on east. I really miss Slovenian food, my family and beautiful Slovenian landscape.