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The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

International athletes adapt to life away from home

Joey Root
Junior men’s tennis player from China, Andy Ai, is one of five international students on the men’s and women’s tennis teams.

California Lutheran University’s men’s and women’s tennis teams have five international student-athletes that come from different countries around the world, including Germany, Peru, France and China. 

The athletes, who bring different backgrounds, experiences and languages, face adjusting to a new culture. However, Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Mike Gennette said he feels the international students have adapted well to the teams.

“The international players are participating in activities to help team bonding. This will build team chemistry and help in the upcoming season,” Gennette said.  

First-year men’s tennis player Frederick Otto said he has found the culture in the United States to be distinct from his native country, Germany. Otto said one thing that has taken some getting used to is the food in America.

“The food has way more fats and carbs in it. Sometimes, you can taste like it’s not that fresh, like it’s from pretty far away. But honestly, with the cafeteria here with the salad and food options, it’s not as bad as I expected it to be,” Otto said.

Although Otto said he has found some foods that are similar in the U.S., one thing he said he really misses is good bread. 

“My mom used to cook a really delicious soup that I loved that I found in one other place in Germany, but nowhere else, so I really miss it,” Otto said.

Despite the contrast in food, Otto said social adjustment at Cal Lutheran has not been an issue, and said he feels people have been welcoming and supportive.

Gennette said the international players have brought a new energy to the team, and even though English is not their first language, he said they all communicate well.

“Some international students will come in and they’re not quite as accomplished with their English skills yet, and that can take usually about a one-year adjustment until they really adjust,” Gennette said.

First-year women’s tennis player Fatima Nemi Revilla’s native country is Peru, and she said it has not been very difficult adjusting to the language difference in the U.S. 

“It wasn’t too hard. Sometimes, I have to look up some more words because the literal translation is not the same as what I’m trying to say,” Revilla said.

Revilla said her doubles partner on the Regals tennis team speaks fluent Spanish, which has been helpful. She said they mostly communicate in Spanish off the court and when playing doubles.

According to Revilla, the culture of Cal Lutheran is pretty laid-back and she has found students on campus to be quite friendly. 

“I like the tennis team and our classmates…and I’ve also met new people…transfers like me, and we have great experiences,” Revilla said.

Before coming to Cal Lutheran, Revilla said she lived in Salima, Peru and said their shopping malls and traffic are similar to California’s.

First-year men’s tennis player Jakob Buhler is from Germany and said he enjoys both Cal Lutheran and his team’s culture.

“Everybody is getting along and so far, we have built a good team culture,” Buhler said. “It’s been better than I expected it to be. I didn’t have problems settling in, and already met tons of new people and the campus is super nice.”

Buhler said he enjoys how open-minded students are and enjoys hearing their stories. According to Buhler, students have been sociable and are interested to find out why he chose to attend Cal Lutheran.

“Everybody is different in their own way. Sometimes, I still have to pinch myself that I’m actually here,” Buhler said.

Like his teammate Otto, Buhler said one area that has taken some getting used to is the food. According to him, American cuisine in the U.S. is greasier than he is used to at home. 

Junior men’s tennis player from China Andy Ai, shared Otto and Buhler’s sentiment on the food in the U.S. Ai said there are too many fast food options and not enough healthy choices in America, and prefers the food in China. 

As far as other parts of cultural adjustment, Ai said he likes that there are no free-speech restrictions in the U.S.

“In the United States, I like the freedom. We can talk about anything we want basically, and the education is good,” Ai said.

Ai said his first year at Cal Lutheran was difficult due to the language barrier, which is something he is still struggling with. He said when he first came he could understand people, but couldn’t converse very well, and though it is easier for him now, he still has trouble.

Junior men’s tennis player Loup Sudre said after coming to Cal Lutheran from France, the adjustment to the language was also an issue for him.

“My English was very bad two years ago and I couldn’t make a sentence. I’ve improved a little bit,” Sudre said. “I don’t speak English in the summer when I go back home, so I don’t speak English for four months. When I come back here in September, it is kind of odd in the beginning, but now I’m used to it.”

Sudre said because he enjoys talking to people, it was frustrating to communicate with other students. He said he felt stuck to help people understand what he was saying, however, he tried to have conversations with people even when his English was not very good.

According to Sudre, a positive thing about the culture is that everyone is open-minded and very curious. Similar to the other international tennis players, Sudre said adjustment to the food has also been challenging and that he misses French food.

Gennette said the international players have been a great addition to the tennis teams, and they will begin their season in the spring.

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