Name: Marta Stojanovic
Major(s): Behavioral Neuroscience
Language(s): Serbian, English, German, Italian, and a little Spanish
Marta is photographed here (third from the left) with her teammates
“Hi everyone! My name is Marta and I am from Serbia. I am a junior and I am majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience. I speak five languages which are Serbian, English, German, Italian and a little of Spanish. I am also a student-athlete and I received an athletic scholarship to play tennis for the University of San Diego. Serbia (well, Europe in general) does not have a system in which athletes can both play their sport and study at a university. You have to pick between the two. That is why I decided to come to a university in the United States where I am able to play tennis competitively and study in a great academic institution. I decided to come to University of San Diego because of the great tennis program, strong academics, and a beautiful weather. Not only I enjoy playing tennis and studying at USD, I get to send pictures of me tanning at the pool in February to my jealous friends that are freezing back home. I think I made a pretty good choice!
Being a student-athlete and an international student at USD definitely creates a unique experience. I had to face all the challenges of coming into a different culture and learning a new system, but also the challenges of being a student-athlete and managing sports and school.Even though it was and still difficult at times, I have learned so much and would not change this experience for anything. I have learned to manage my time and be more efficient. I have learned to utilize the resources that are plentiful here at USD. People here were very helpful, from the professors, athletic department to the members of the International Student Organization (ISO).
The International Harbor Cruise 2014
Many international students are not used to asking for help but I think the available resources are one of the greatest advantages of USD. What I value the most from this experience are all the great people I have met. I have never thought that I will be in contact and become friends with so many people from different countries and cultures. At the beginning it took some time to adjust to the diversity of USD but I believe that has made me more aware of the differences and similarities between people. I was lucky to be on the tennis team which consists of mostly international student-athletes. We all go through a similar experience which connects us and enables us to help each other. They are like my family away from home. We plan trips over the summers, in the US and all over the world, and I believe that even in 10 years we will have reunions somewhere in the world and visit each other. I was fortunate enough to be part of athletic community and international community here at USD which made this experience unforgettable.
Living in the United States is very different from home. Not only the culture and people are different, but the system as well. Everyone here is very friendly. Not saying that people in Serbia are not friendly but just different kind of friendly. There were a lot of things that I needed to learn from scratch: from writing essays in English, to getting used to large portions of food (except in the SLP during dinner). It also took me a while to realize that I am supposed to hold the door for the person behind me even though they might not be that close. It took a lot of adjustment but I think this experience as an international student prepared me for many things in the future and I feel I could be thrown anywhere in the world and I would be able to survive. However, I believe that I am not the only one when I say that I miss a lot of things from home too: the food, the people, my favorite coffee place, my own room, but most of all my family and friends. It is harder for international students to travel back home as often because it is usually far away and more expensive. I get to see my family only once a year. It was the hardest at the beginning but as time passed it got easier, even the goodbyes at the airport. It probably makes it easier that I am usually very busy over the day and I do not have a lot of time to think about home. I spend my day going from classes to practice back to classes again. And then the rest of the day I usually try to catch up on homework and readings. I know, it is not that exciting. Over the weekends I try to do something fun for myself like going to the beach, watching a movie or hanging out with my friends.
My plan for the future is to go to graduate school for neuropsychology. I will probably apply to schools in the US and in Europe. I know where I want to end up but the path that will take me there is uncertain. I am excited to see what lies for me in the future.”