Overboarder: Suus, welcome back. To start off, how would you describe the sports culture in America compared to the Netherlands and Belgium?
Suus Altorf: The sports culture here is entirely different. Sports in America are done on a grand scale. There’s a tremendous amount of money and time invested. Take track and field as an example; it’s not even one of the top sports here, yet at FSU we have our own track, a dedicated gym, specialized coaches for each discipline, and physiotherapists always available. What truly blew me away though were the American football games. On game days, you see people everywhere wearing FSU shirts. The whole community comes together, and that sense of unity is really special.
Overboarder: That sounds immense! Speaking of overwhelming, what were your major challenges when you first arrived?
Suus Altorf: When I first landed in America, everything felt so new and intense. The FSU campus is vast, and everything felt chaotic during the first week. Also, as a student-athlete, finding a balance between training, classes, social activities, and personal time was challenging. Learning when to say ‘no’ was a lesson in itself. Over time, I’ve honed my time-management skills. And even though I didn’t suffer much from homesickness, maintaining contact with my family back home was essential.
Overboarder: What are some of your fondest experiences in America so far?
Suus Altorf: There are so many. But one standout aspect is how much I’ve learned outside of classes. I’ve met people from various cultures, leading to many profound conversations. These interactions have genuinely transformed me. I feel more confident now, and America feels like a second home. Whether I’m heading to the physio room or to training, everything feels so normal and familiar now.
Overboarder: Are there any specific memories you’ll always cherish?
Suus Altorf: Absolutely! My trip with the cross country girls to Boston was unforgettable. Even though I usually train with the track team, this time I joined the distance group. Boston itself was fantastic, but the actual meet was the highlight. I ran that day in the morning and set a new indoor PR in the 800m! The pinnacle, however, was the evening, watching the dedication and energy of everyone during their races. The enthusiasm and spirit of the team were unparalleled.
Overboarder: It all sounds like an incredible adventure, Suus. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Suus Altorf: My pleasure. Thanks for the thoughtful questions.