Natania LEVAK | My International Student-Athlete Experience
First, a little background on you and the school...
Your full name: Natania Levak
Your country of origin? Croatia
our last team in your home country before attending school internationally? OK Marina Kastela
Name of your college/university? West Virginia University
This school is in... USA
...your sport? Volleyball (Middle Blocker) ..your jersey # ? 13
...received a scholarship? Yes, Full Athletic
...enter your major(s): Undecided
...select your status in school: Freshman
PERSONAL profile link from your school’s website:
Tell your experience BEFORE you got to your foreign school...
...what/who helped you in your process of deciding/getting to a foreign school:
Elite Sport Student's Mentors, Ryan Jay Owens, Coaches in my home country, Parents, Another Student-Athlete(s) ,
Rate your experience with RJO (Ryan Jay Owens) out of 10 (Fantastic): 10
Comments for RJO?
Ryan is the kindest. He always has the time to help others, he is super patient and answers whatever questions you have and always has the best advices. I know everyone wants to find a person that will never trick you, that will not let you down, just someone you can fully trust and Ryan is that person. Not only does he do all he can to help you, but you can also see him as a person to look up to - with the lifestyle he lives, the mindset he has and his intelligence. The more you get to know him, the more you'll be glad that you've contacted him in the first place. I personally couldn't choose a better person to help me get through all these preps to go study in the USA. RJO you rock! :) [Hvala Nati! Big hug!]
Rate your experience with Beyond Athletic’s Podcast out of 10 (Love it!): 10
Comments for Beyond Athletic Podcast:
I think the page is very helpful, it can answer a lot of your questions and you can learn so many new things through it's content. It has some great posts talking about preventing injuries, how nutriton and sleep is important for your progress, how to give 100% without fear and it has interviews with ex and current players in USA so you can get a better picture about what it's like to be here, how the days look like and all the things you would wanna know before you come here. All the posts are based on people talking about the things they've experienced themseves so you would definitely get a better understanding of being a high level athlete and you would get more prepared for all the things that you have to go through. I would recommend this page to anyone because it helped me a lot, helped me in the decision whether I should come to the States or not and I certainly do not regret my choice.
Rate your experience with Elite Sport Student’s Mentors out of 10 (Great): 10
Comments for Elite Squared AKA Elite Sport Students’ Mentors:
When I was preparing to go to the USA I had dozens of questions I wanted to ask and RJO connected me to a couple of girls (student mentors) that I can talk to because they've gone through the same thing as I did. I talked to Milica Kubura, Edina Selimovic, Edina Begic etc. I started to contact some other girls too by myself and it was nice to hear stories and experiences of the people just like you. It gives you additional courage, confidence and helps you make a decision of where you want to study and what your goals are.
Did you pay for their service? If so, how much?
No, I didn't. It is so amazing to know every help I got from Beyond Athletic and RJO was completely free and just selflessly and generously given to me. I'm grateful that I found this site!
...how difficult was it to decide to go to a foreign school out of 10 (Very difficult)? 8
... If you knew what you know NOW... how difficult would it have been to decide to go to a foreign school out of 10 (Very Difficult)?? 0, Easy
What were the main things that convinced you to choose to go to a foreign school? :)
I've heard so many different experiences and they were all positive. I knew volleyball and education were very important to me and there just wasn't a better place to combine those 2 in a very high level than the USA. My parents are the ones who gave me the biggest encouragement and just made me feel like I was making the right decision. Now that I'm here at WVU, with every new day I realize how grateful I am to be here and that this is the best possible option for me to grow not only as a player, but as a person in general.
...What, if any, were the difficulties in choosing to go to a foreign school?
Well personally I was being indecisive for a long time. I didn't know if I was ready to leave my family, friends and my country and literally start a new life all by myself. I got so many encouragement from a lot of people and as the time went on I realized that's the best thing for me to do. It took me about 6 months to finally say that I'm ready to go to the States. The preparations were crazy, there was just a lot of things to do and I wasn't sure if everything's gonna be done on time. But it all turned out perfectly and now I'm here, making a lot of new friends, learning so many new things and enjoying life!
... and how did you overcome these obstacles to get to a foreign school?
I just did a lot of reading, research, watched a lot of videos, talked to some people that have already studied in USA or are currently studying there and the more I did all these stuff the more I got confident about me going to a foreign school.
... how helpful were the staff at the school with getting you admitted out of 10 (Super Helpful)? 10
What things helped you get everything done to get to a foreign school?
I think my parents are the ones I have to thank the most about that. They're the best!
Why did you decide to go to a foreign school?
Because those kinds of things are opportunities that come once in a lifetime and that can help you build the person you wanna be and get more responsible and mature. Learning about a new culture, living in a different society, experiencing new lifestyles and mindsets can only help you grow as a person and become more independent.
Lastly, your experience at your foreign school...
...your happiness with international student-athletics out of 10 (LOVE IT!)? 10
...What, if any, were the difficulties to adjust to life in your school’s country?
American food, getting up really early for practices, getting used to difficult practices which drain a lot of energy from you in the start and you just wanna sleep but in the same time you have to study and go to classes...
... and how did you overcome these obstacles to adjust to school life?
Eventually you get used to all those things and they just become a part of your daily routine. You just have to stay strong and think about how all those things are only gonna help you improve yourself
...What were your best experiences in your foreign school?
Meeting all of my coaches and my new teammates which are better than I could imagine, meeting new people, making new friendships, perfecting my english speaking skills... What amazes me most is seeing all these people here just trying to improve themselves on a daily basis, not only athletes but all the other people. I think this change of environment can only do good things for me. I couldn't like the fact thay I'm here more than I do! I get positive experiences each and every day!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Going to a foreign school is a big thing and a hard decision to make. You just have to have a strong mindset. Everything is in your head. If you're determined to do something, if you set goals for yourself and do everything you can to accomplish them you're on the right track. If you keep saying "I can't", "I'll do it later", "I'm not good enough" just remember: Yes you can! Do it now! You're good enough! Bad thoughts won't get you anywhere. Believe in yourself and everything else will come naturally. Give 100% each and every new day and never stop reaching for your dreams and goals.
Did you enjoy talking about this?
Would you be interested in an international athlete network?
Do you plan to be a PRO in your sport after college?