Junior guard Keyari Sleezer of the Pepperdine women's basketball team studied abroad in Spain this summer. She tells us about her experience studying abroad while maintaining her readiness for the upcoming season:
Q: You went to study abroad in Spain. Can you tell me about your experience?
A: It was amazing! I really loved getting to travel and meet so many more people outside of athletics. It was a great time to get to really learn about navigating the city in Spanish and on my own. Since I am already an independent person, I chose to room alone with my family and I took the metro everywhere. I really loved being right in the city and getting to explore a little bit of everything in the parks, cafes, and museums.
Q: Who or what influenced you to go abroad?
A: The opportunity to study Spanish and finish out my Hispanic Studies minor, while getting to fulfill my passion for traveling, were huge motivating factors for my decision. I also want to be bilingual for my future career in the medical field and to better communicate with my family in Costa Rica.
Q: What was your most memorable experience?
A: The side trips were where I made some of the best memories! My favorite weekend was a last-minute trip to Morocco for the last weekend that we were there. We got to explore on a camel ride, horse carriage, walking and a tour up to a waterfall in the mountains. Plus, everything was just very cultural and distinct and we had a really unique experience getting to be there during Ramadan.
Q: What was something you learned about the culture difference?
A: The two main things were the schedule and the aging. They eat a big, late lunch, so that meant that we didn't have dinner until around 10 o'clock at night! It was hard on my sleep schedule, but it also gave me more time to be out and take advantage of the daylight, because it didn't get dark until around 10. The other thing that was very different was that people marry a lot later, so this meant that I had older host brothers who still lived at home, which was normal to them and I saw a lot of old mothers around the city.
Q: What do you miss the most from Spain?
A: I miss getting to live with a family. Going from dorms to a full family was so much fun! I had host brothers that I could hang out with, I had my own room, we had family dinners, and they didn't speak English, so I got to practice my Spanish and feel comfortable doing it.
Q: Would you recommend other student-athletes to go abroad if their schedule permits?
A: Yes! If you are motivated and able to manage your priorities, then this is the best possible time and opportunity to take advantage of. Getting to get credit, meet peers, travel, and just experience a different culture is invaluable.
Q: Were you able to play any basketball there?
A: Yes. I wanted to make sure that I came back ready to contribute and be completely involved in the workouts, so I was a member of a gym and even found a group through an app called "meetup" where I could play pickup games with some Americans in the area. I couldn't find an indoor court, but I carried my ball and pump around all the time, so that I could explore the city and find outdoor courts or just play at the one right next to my house.
Q: How are you prepping for this upcoming season?
A: I have been preparing for this season by working on my dribbling and maintaining my shot. The easiest thing to do, anywhere, is to just go for a run, so I pride myself in the endurance that I have built up.
Q: What are you most looking forward to for your junior year?
A: For junior year I am looking forward to seeing what comes of all the changes we have made. I truly think there are many positive things to come in the way we have fostered our love for the game, our team practices and our winning culture. I can't wait to see where that takes us!