Graduating as a student-athlete from University of California, Berkeley, part-1

This spring (2021), I graduated as an undergraduate from UC Berkeley. There have been enormous amounts of emotions connected to this life change, for one, it has been challenging, rewarding, scary, fulfilling, and most importantly… a dream come true.

My last year of  high school, I decided to change my focus from basketball to track & field, running primarily the 100m, 200m, and 400m. When playing basketball, I remember my dad introduced me to Uconn’s Women’s basketball team, with Mr. Geno Auriemma, however, with a shift of sports, and my lack of experience in t&f, my dream of attending an American university would not happen, yet. I got accepted to the Norwegian School of Sports Science, and after two years into my bachelor’s degree in Sport Management (of three years), I had the opportunity to attend UC Berkeley. After being in contact with the coaching staff, then being ghosted, then being told NO, then almost giving up on my dream of going to Berkeley, however, I wanted it so badly, so I again contacting them, being specific with my request and asking for what could be done to make this happen – and they DID reply…

Lesson: never take NO for an answer, stay persistent, and believe that you can make it happen.

I left Norway in august 2018, to enroll as a full-time student-athlete. Since I had never visited the UC campus, never been to the west coast, nor had I grown up in the US – I did not know what to expect, the only thing I had to go off from were the videos I would so eagerly watch again and again about the college life. However, my three-year undergraduate experience would be very different from that.

First day on campus, August 2018

I remember the first days well, I did not have any sense of direction, as the feeling of being at a completely new place with a different culture and people, not to mention now living there, creates a strong unknowing feeling within, but it also spikes a lot of interest. I was young then, and I felt very small. I felt small in contrast to the team, the coaches, the lecture halls, and in general all over campus. There was a lack of confidence, I went there with my arms wide open, ready to receive everything the student-athlete experience had to offer.

However, it was not going to be an easy road… The lectures were fast past, the academic workload was A LOT, oh and everything was now to be written, read, and discussed in English. On the other hand, I was introduced to a new form of lecturing, topics, and extremely interesting classes that I truly enjoyed. I did not know what else to do than to study until 2 am, reading every single word of the 100s of pages that were due the next day while snacking and trying to stay awake. I thought this was the norm because the study hall was always full of Berkeley students. However, the challenge came the following morning when I was to leave my dorm before dawn to complete my morning practice, most often in the pool. 

my favorite outdoor pool at Hearst – 7 am, when the sun would rise from being the Berkeley hills were/are one of my absolute favorite moments.
Oh how I would stack up my locker with food

I was tired, and injuries occurred, however, I was still able to show up every day, as I was enjoying what I was doing, where I was – I felt like there was meaning and purpose. I enjoyed finally being part of a team, developing deep friendships with like-minded people, and having a routine that I felt belonged to me. In addition, I strongly believe that one of the key things that got me through this first year was the dining hall. Even though it may not have always been a 5-star quality serving, you could ALWAYS find some form of carb/protein/fat, and the key then is to just eat a lot of food. I would always go out of my way, run from class, cut lines – you name it, all in order to ensure that I got three BIG meals in every day, oh and I would also try to bring food with me when I was not caught and surrounded by staff.

a lot of prehab/rehab done
I was taking well care of the Alter-g…
XT in the pool
lunch breaks at the dining-hall

Some of my favorite moments from that semester

I was lucky enough to have my two favorite people in the world come visit me; my brothers.
Dinners in SF with my “foster family” as I like calling them
Dinners at the dining hall – you would always find someone to eat with
The friendships that I built
Access to different forms and ways of recovery
Face-timing with family back home
Going to football games

American food
Bonfire

I went home for winter break, where I had time to catch up with my real mental and physical state. I experienced having little energy and was quickly diagnosed with a critical knee injury that took me out of running. For the first time, my athletic motivation became affected by my injury.

The following spring semester, where I finally would be able to wear the Blue and Gold Cal competition gear for the first time, would be a very challenging semester. My injury did not heal until March, which meant that I had a month to prepare for my first Pac12 track season, the medical and coaching styles were different from what I was used to, which meant a lot of phone calls home as I needed the support from my family more than ever, and courses were not easier. Yet, I did get to compete in my very first track and field season, I was able to travel to different states, enjoy cheering for my teammates, finished strong academically, but most importantly I was enjoying track

Part 2: TBC.

Grass is not greener on the other side – but it definitely is a different color green…

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