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All Around the World

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Courtesy: Brad Wolverton, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Francine Polet, a field-hockey player and junior at Harvard University, was born in the Netherlands, grew up in Malaysia, lived in Belgium for a while, and went to high school in Hong Kong. It's safe to say she is one of the most international of the growing number of international players in college sports.

She has had to adapt to so many different cultures and languages - she speaks fluent Dutch and English, and conversational French, German, and Mandarin - that she figured moving to Cambridge, Mass., would be a breeze.

She felt well prepared for the academic rigors, but the social transition was more difficult than she expected. Some of her Harvard classmates were not always forgiving of foreign students with less understanding of American pop culture and history. And she was not used to how friendly strangers appeared to be but how long relationships stayed superficial. "You immediately think everyone's your friend," she says, "but that's not always the case."

Fortunately her field-hockey teammates provided a social network she could trust. "The intensity of the sport really bonds everyone together very closely," she says. "I've benefited from the connection it creates among teammates."

To read the rest of Brad Wolverton's story as found in The Chronicle of Higher Education, please click here.

- A.S.