How our squash players build their future overseas in the world's top universities, learned from Nadiia Usenko

How our squash players build their future overseas in the world's top universities, learned from Nadiia Usenko

Are you dreaming of going to college in America and getting a chance to become a part of the university squash league? We managed to learn from Nadezhda Usenko how our students overseas build their future and study in top universities in the world.

Nadezhda Usenko is an athlete, master of sports in squash, a member of the women's and junior teams of Ukraine, medalist and winner of national and international tournaments, a participant in the World Games and a student at Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut).

- Hi, Nadia. I know that you are studying in Trinity, remind you which course you are on?

- I finished the 2nd year, now in the third.

- How quickly time flies. Tell me, do you remember how you went to college?

- I first learned about the university squash league when I first flew to the United States. I played a tournament on the courts of Virginia University, it surprised me, I asked the tournament organizer if they do squash courts at the university. To which they replied that in America there is a college squash league.

- It turned out to be a fateful tournament. How did you get in touch with universities after that?

- I went to the CSA (College squash association) website and found a ranking of US university teams there. Head coaches' emails can be found on the same site. So I wrote a letter to coaches of various universities with top squash teams and sent them my resume. She told who I am, my achievements in squash (attached my places in the national, international and PSA ratings). She asked what I need to do to join their university and team. Different universities have different requirements, but absolutely everyone asked to take the TOEFL English test, some universities asked to score a specific score. For all other questions and documents, the head coach will guide the player and help him in these matters.

- You were in the United States when you submitted the documents, did you do everything online from home?

- Yes, everything was online through the US applicants website. The application had to be filled out online, attached marks for the last 4 years of schooling, a school leaving certificate, and I also had to write several essays (essays), on one topic that the applicant chooses himself and on the second topic that the university asks for. Many universities also ask to take the SAT exam in English and mathematics.

- For almost 3 years in America, what is your impression of studying in college?

- I like. Everything is very compact. I live on campus, everything is close by. I have enough time for both training and squash. Our sports club has 9 regular and 2 glass courts. Nice gym and running stadium.

- It is very interesting to learn about the living conditions on the campus, share your experience?

- Starting from the second year you can choose where you want to live. There are many different rooms: you can live alone or with neighbors, you can generally live in a three-storey building with its own kitchen, refrigerator, washing machine for 9 people. Each hostel has a laundry and drying room, a relaxation and training room, a kitchen. Some hostels have additional entertainment in the form of table tennis, table football, and a dance hall. There is always a TV. The first year I lived with 3 neighbors, but they all had a separate room. We shared a living room with a sofa and armchairs. Sometimes there can be problems with heating, but not in the sense that it is cold, but very hot. If you have checked in and you have any problems or damage in your room, then you fill out an online request and everything will be repaired for free.

- Is it difficult to combine study with squash?

- During the preparatory season, we train three times a week in the gym and three times a week in squash. During the season we train squash 2 times a day and 6 times a week. Every year our training program changes a little, depending on what the team lacked last season. There is always enough time, both for training and for squash. The most important thing is to distribute it wisely. We are deliberately not allowed to take evening pairs so that everyone can train together. Students make their own schedule of classes and can choose which of the subjects they need brothers and at what time. So, most often everything can be conveniently adjusted for sports activities and still leave time for homework.

- It's very cool that you can study the subjects that you choose yourself. After graduating from college, what will you be in your specialty?

- I will be a philologist of Italian and Spanish. But, in America it is not so important who you study for. Here they look more at your achievements at the university: what did you do in addition to studying, in which clubs / teams you were involved, your GPA. I have a friend who graduated from a university with a degree in economics, but found a job in IT. She was hired and taught all the nuances of IT on the spot.

- Everything is so simple in fact)) And what kind of clubs and circles are there in college? Do you visit any of them?

- There are many different clubs, I won't list them all) from culinary to rock climbing. Personally, it's enough for me that I'm in a sports team. But I sometimes go to the literary club and participate in various additional lectures that interest me. The university invites different speakers and they can tell their stories about how they got to Google, Facebook and other big companies. Also, I like to attend events related to journalism or poetry, astronomy and physics.

- I want to ask about the teachers, what attitude they have towards students, help if necessary?

- Since the university is small, each professor has enough time for students. There are so-called "office hours" that are assigned by the professor. You can come at any time and ask any questions. A lot of professors support my hobby for sports and forgive missing competitions. When I had to fly to the European Team Championship last year, I was able to agree to take my exams earlier than other students.

- Was it not difficult for you to radically change your life: a foreign country, language, new environment and still far from home?

- I cannot say that I have radically changed my life. I am still learning and playing squash. So, everything is already in a different language - English, the format of training at the university is a little different, but for the first semester I got used to it. Most people get homesick by the end of the first semester, but I didn't. Perhaps because I was busy all the time. In another sense, everything has become much more compact, closer: you don't even need to go anywhere by car, everything is close by. I haven't seen much of the "real" America, because I don't have much time to walk around the city, I spend all my time on campus or at student league competitions. I came to a new team, but I have many acquaintances of foreign students, like me, so I also had no problems in communication.

- How often and for how long do you arrive in Ukraine?

- We have two semesters. The first semester runs from early September to mid-December. Thereafter, the second semester begins at the end of January. Many international students fly home for a month, but starting January 1, the entire squash team needs to arrive back on campus to train and play in competitions. My exams ended on December 19 and I could return home for 10 days. So, in my first year, I decided not to fly home, and spent 1.5 weeks at home with my roommate and returned to campus. In my second year, I managed to pass the exams earlier and fly to Kiev for 2 weeks. The second semester ended in mid-May and after that I fly home for the whole summer.

- What are your plans for the future, do you plan to stay in the USA after graduation?

- After graduation I would like to try myself in professional squash. With the place where I will live and train - I have not yet decided.

- Is there any tradition between students, every Friday to get together and go for a walk, visit some institutions, throw parties?

- Since the official start of the squash season is November 1, the day before that, on Halloween, we all go to the squash courts in costumes to the north and we play "crazy squash". There is such a tradition, even coaches come. We also organize end-of-season parties. Sometimes we just agree with the whole team to go to the cinema or to a restaurant, but I cannot call this as a tradition.

As for the other students, we have Bingo on Fridays where you can win prizes. Parties are hosted by a wide variety of students from different organizations, they take place every weekend, but I do not go to them.

- And finally, leave some advice to future applicants. I am sure that your experience will be useful to them)))

- I can give so much advice, but for specific questions. Unless I can say that you should not be afraid, but you need to try and then you can enter a university in the USA.

Thank you for the interesting conversation and your inspiring journey. We wish you to tirelessly move forward towards your goal and be happy with your accomplishments!



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