Silver Lake College junior David Martinez of Valencia, Spain, is a long way from home. Yet he feels very much at home in Manitowoc.
David came to the United States two years ago so that he could continue playing basketball while studying for his degree in psychology.
“In Spain, when you are 18, you either become a professional basketball player or semi-professional. Basketball is my passion. I didn’t want to give it up. At the same time, I knew my studies were very important,” he said.
David attended a university in Maine, then transferred to Silver Lake College in part because he learned it was a small college in a nice community and that faculty, staff and students were like a family.
“Everything they told me was true. I feel like I am almost at home,” he said. “Everyone is very friendly. You feel like you’re an important part of the university. They go out of their way to help you when they know you are from another country.”
David continues playing his beloved basketball as shooting guard for the Silver Lake College Lakers.
As for his studies, the school he attended offered a behavioral science degree, but he was told he needed to pursue psychology in order for his degree to transfer to Spain.
David’s mother is a psychologist and he would like to follow in her footsteps, combining his degree with his love of sports to become a sports psychologist. “I like to help people,” he said.
Right now, he is searching for an internship in sports psychology so that he can get some hands-on experience in the field.
Another reason he moved to Wisconsin — and this may be hard to believe — is that the state has shorter winters.
He likened Spain’s climate to Florida’s and had never seen snow before he lived in Maine. “They had snow October through May. Here the winter is really good,” he said, looking out over the grassy campus in mid-March.
He also likes Manitowoc’s proximity to larger cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago.
Getting used to American food has been one challenge. At home, he has a diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish. Americans tend to eat more meat and fast foods, he said.
Another challenge to overcome was the language barrier. David learned to read and write English starting at about age 12, but the first time he had to speak it was when he stepped on U.S. soil.
It didn’t help that he learned British English and in northern Maine they speak it with a French accent, he joked.
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