When I left for college my biggest concern was getting a dorm fridge and making sure I had the latest version of Madden football for my video game console. Pretty harmless stuff. It is this way for a good number of college freshmen across the country.
For Iowa State tennis freshman Talisa Merchiers, a Geraardsbergen, Belgium native, moving to college was a little more cumbersome. You see, when you don’t have the luxury of just running home on the weekend, you have to plan a little more. Things become even more difficult when your primary language is Dutch and nothing you own seems to be compatible in your future home, not even the plugins on your laptop, cell phone or curling iron.
Truth is though, it actually starts before all that. Merchiers, who decided where she’d spend her next four years in May, had to move quickly. First, she had to retake an English as a second language test in which she had finished a point shy in. She passed that test and was on her way.
Then came the admissions process, which we all know can be tedious. For Merchiers it was even more complicated. She needed to get her transcripts translated from Dutch to English. Merchiers was eventually accepted to Iowa State University.
During the summer, she played tennis. A lot of tennis.
Merchiers won five tournaments and the end result will likely be her No. 90 ranking improving greatly when the new charts come out in October.
Merchiers arrived in Ames via a Zaventem-Atlanta-Des Moines flight. After the 18.5 hour trip, there would be no relaxing.
She spent the next days purchasing a new phone and computer as her old one boasted a Dutch keyboard. She also needed a bank account and a social security card. All things that I didn’t need to worry about when I got to college.
Luckily for Merchiers, she had teammates to lean on during the process. Her fellow freshmen, Samantha Budai (London, Ontario) and Lydia Green (Florida via Melton, England) are also international students and her other teammates include a Croatian (Ana Gasparovic), Norwegian (Caroline Andersen) and a German (Ksenia Pronina).
She also pointed to the people at Iowa State as very helpful during the process.
Merchiers will make her collegiate debut this weekend at the Gopher Invitational. After a whirlwind four months, I’m sure she’s ready to get on the court and compete.
Follow Shoultz on twitter: @mjshoultz