Fernanda Bartels, Staff Writer

There are two things in particular that make volleyball more enjoyable for me.

The first one is the people involved in the sport: Teammates, coaches, fans, supporters, alumni, parents, friends, trainers and even the opponents. These people make the experience of volleyball memorable.
Because I am a “people person,” I really value these interactions and try to take the most of them. For me, the interaction with people transforms simple moments into something extraordinary.

Twenty years from now, when I look back over my collegiate volleyball years, I am positive that I will still remember every person that made a difference for me during those years. Maybe I will remember a joke someone made during a trip or a habit one of my teammates had. I hope I can also remember matches that stood out or the unbelievable plays that are worth telling my kids.

For me, the opportunity to visit different places is the second thing that adds the most to the experience of playing volleyball. This season, we had the opportunity to walk around Boston. We went downtown to walk around the markets, try some local food and do some shopping.

Other than Boston, during my years at Mason, I had the chance to see a little bit of Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and other states on the East Coast. As an international student, I appreciate every opportunity to learn and experience the American culture.

Besides the road trips, we also have the opportunity to meet people from various parts of America and different countries. I live with my two Australian teammates, Rebecca Walter and Sam Simmonds. This past summer, I went to Australia to visit them. I had free accommodation and tourist guides in two different parts of Australia because of volleyball. Bec and Sam are graduating next spring, and we have considered travelling throughout America before they head back to Australia.

We would have places to stay throughout the country because of volleyball–going from Pennsylvania to Hawaii, passing through Illinois, Nebraska, Arizona, Washington and California.

Because of the popularity of the sport in Europe and in other parts of the world, there are several opportunities to play overseas. It is just a matter of connections. Hopefully, America will not be the final destination of my volleyball journey.

As my volleyball career continues, I hope to collect more cultural and interpersonal experiences in my suitcase. They are my souvenirs and constitute the core of my memories. I am hoping to have a diverse collection of them.