Pause at the Release: Catharine Brierre
May 2, 2011
Tulsa, Okla. -
Catharine Brierre on Studying Abroad
Rowing has been a part of my life for the past six years, and has given me many more opportunities than I ever thought possible. It allowed me to receive an athletic scholarship to a Division I school, something that I never dreamed of, and has always pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. As an International Business and Language major at TU, I was highly encouraged to study abroad by my advisor, as well as by several teachers. However, because of my role as a student athlete, the likelihood of leaving TU for a semester seemed remote. Last fall, I began to feel as though my Spanish skills were not where they needed to be, and for a while I even considered changing my major because I didn't feel happy with my progress in Spanish. I knew that studying abroad would be the best opportunity for me to improve my Spanish, but I also knew that would involve missing a season of rowing. After an extremely difficult few weeks, I finally decided that studying abroad was an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. This was a very hard decision for me to make, and I felt like I was letting my team down. However, I also knew that a semester of not rowing would give me the opportunity to renew my commitment to my team.
When the day came to tell my teammates that I would be leaving for the spring semester, I was extremely upset, and very worried about letting them down. However, my lightweight teammates embraced me with open arms, and stood by my decision one hundred percent. I think that they understood that this would be a wonderful chance for me, both to improve my Spanish skills, as well as restore my health. As the fall semester drew to a close, I began to get excited, as did my teammates. My roommate even threw me a surprise party the week before I left, with everyone from the team there. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so much love from that group of women.
My time here in Spain has been absolutely amazing! This is my first time to be out of the country, experiencing a different culture and I love every moment of it! I have hiked, skied, swam in both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and been to more cathedrals, monuments and historical places than I can remember. I chose to study in Granada, located in the region of Andalucía, in the southern part of the country. I couldn't be happier with my decision of Granada, which is most well known for the magnificent Alhambra. The history behind Granada is very impressive and the diversity of the city, with it once under the rule of Romans and Moors, before being taken over by Catholics in the reconquista, makes for a giant melting pot of cultures. The city is the perfect size, where everything is based on how long it takes you to walk from one place to another. On my way to school every day, I see a beautiful panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Alhambra, fountains, and plenty of cute school children. I love the urban feel of Granada, yet really it is just a large town, and I am able to recognize friendly faces on the streets.
While my adventures here have been amazing, I definitely miss rowing and my big team family back in Tulsa. I watched the races in San Diego on my computer, and I felt the urge to be right there racing with my team. I am immensely proud of the success that the TU Women's Rowing team has achieved this semester, and I couldn't be happier to call myself their teammate. Rowing or my lack thereof this semester, has instilled in me the desire and motivation to work out while I am in Spain. I run along the river near my house and I joined a gymnasio, where I attend fun classes like Body Pum, Fit Ball, and Pilates.
As my time in Spain is shortly coming to an end, I am looking forward to being back at TU next fall, embracing the chance to practice and race with my sisters, again being a present member of the TU Women's Rowing team. I know that when I return, I will have a renewed spirit and body, and will be willing to embrace whatever challenges are thrown my way, all with the help from my giant family!
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