International students adapt to U.S. through FAMU athletics

Most students at Florida A&M are separated from family and friends by city and state, but some are separated by continents.

Though students are away from home they are willing to take the chance to pursue their dreams in the U.S. FAMU is one of many universities that often recruits foreign students for athletics and academics, but it is not always a simple transition.

According to Eugene Frazier, the assistant coach for the men’s track and cross-country team, the biggest difference is the culture. He said international students are not used to the food and money, but other than that they fit in.

Currently, FAMU has three sports teams in season, and their rosters include a variety of foreign athletes.

On the volleyball team there are seven players from different countries, and the cross-country teams have four runners from Kenya.

Ryan Debi, a sophomore from Toronto, plays catcher for the baseball team. Debi said playing for FAMU gives him a chance to experience tougher competition.

He has been studying in U.S. for two years. He enjoys it here, but his family is unable to see his games or give him words of encouragement.

Although he is away from home, Debi said the opportunity to play professionally through exposure in college is a main reason he came to FAMU to play baseball.

“The competition is better in the U.S.,” Debi said. “Baseball is taken more seriously here. College baseball is played for fun in Canada, but it’s serious in the U.S. I have the opportunity to get drafted.”

However, some students still get homesick being away from home.

Kevin Marindich is a sophomore cross-country runner from Eldoret, Kenya. Marindich said the worst part about being away from his native country is the distance from his family.

“It is kind of hard since at times you tend to think about them and miss them,” Marindich said. “Knowing that you can’t be with them soon makes it harder.”

Even though there are many challenges international student-athletes face, Marindich said that coming to the U.S. and participating in the athletic program at FAMU has been a great decision.

Yeisha Arcia, a junior from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an outside hitter for the volleyball team. Arcia said she did not come to the U.S. just for volleyball. Her main reason for coming was academics.

“I wanted to broaden my academics and culture,” Arcia said. “As a child, I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S., so I’m happy that I’m here.”