I want to tell you a little bit about my journey in Long Beach. This was a time when a foreign town turned into my second home, strangers turned into soul mates and pain turned into some kind of magic…
I met Sandra in my home gym when I played a Youth Norwegian Championship. She introduced herself and VolleyUSA and I remember I felt like I could trust her right away. I have always wanted to play internationally, and I knew US was a unique place to combine volleyball and education.
Sandra guided me through a “jungle” of documents, tests, applications, skill tape videos and interviews. She helped me find the best fit for me and was always just a phone call away. In August 2016 I packed my bags and headed to California State University Long Beach. I was lucky to stay the first week together with the German national team player Nele Barber, who ended up becoming one of my best friends. Sandra also helped Nele on her way to the US. Once I stepped on American ground, all aspects of my life got challenged: my volleyball skills, volleyball philosophy, language, social skills, confidence, core values and resilience… to name some.
It took me some time to adjust to everything and I really got to know who I truly was and what I believed in. My sophomore year I tore my ACL and I faced a long recovery process, mentally and physically. One of the greatest lessons I learned from being off the court for a while was to find a better sense of self worth, without considering my volleyball skills or success. I was lucky to be part of a diverse team all four seasons; with players from different ethnicities, countries and cultures. You really get to know your team mates when you live together in dorms, play together every day, travel together every weekend, go through many weeks of double-days and experience losses and victories together. I was a student-athlete before I came to Long Beach, but it was certainly a unique experience to become a part of a community where athletes playing different sports, represented the same university and became Conference and National Champions.
I was lucky to follow our Men’s Volleyball team take 2 National Championship titles; some moments I will never forget. Living in the US for an extended amount of time gave me the opportunity to really get to know the culture. Some of my favorite memories from this country is having Thanksgiving dinners, seeing the preparations for Christmas and Halloween everywhere you go and experiencing the beach/surf/hang loose vibes in California and in Hawaii.
Living in California gave me the opportunity to visit and discover the other cities and beaches on the west coast (mostly in the spring when we had some more weekends off). When choosing a university, I would strongly recommend to choose a location that will make you happy when you are not on the court. What you do outside the court and what affects your happiness, will also affect your play.
I finished my Psychology degree and I headed back to Norway after 3.5 years in Long Beach. Looking back, the list of experiences, lessons & memories seem to get longer for every day that goes by. Going abroad opens your horizon, brings different perspectives to your life and teaches you elements of life that can be hard to find if you stay in your comfort zone. The bonds I created with my team mates were golden and I’m forever thankful that got this opportunity.
Thank you Sandra & VolleyUSA! And Go Beach!