Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Profile on sport & exercise science student, Gemma Najar. From the USA to Bucks: "I wasn't sure if I was being brave or just crazy!"

This September, I graduated high school, turned 18 years old, and moved from the USA to England all in just a few short weeks. At first I wasn’t sure if I was being brave or just crazy!

It turns out that making the decision to come study here at Bucks has been no less than a life-changing experience thus far. I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to study a course I love, internationally, while playing a sport I’m passionate about (football) in its founding country. I am in Sport and Exercise Science here at Bucks and I could not be more interested in all the things we’re learning. The course is very focused, and we have been given hands-on experience right from day one. The equipment in our lab is amazing, and as if it weren’t good enough already, Bucks is generously funding the construction of an even bigger lab to be built for next year!

Photo: Gemma in the white kit playing for her club in the USA.

Bucks is particularly good at combining sport with academia, so that it’s easy for students to get active and play sport while studying. I play for Reading Football Club as well as the University team, and Bucks has made it possible for me to play at a world-class level with Reading while continuing my education. We train every day (sometimes twice a day), and getting to and from training is made easy for us. I am very thankful that Bucks is supporting us to train every day and improve our skills, on and off the pitch.

We’ve also been given opportunity to get involved in some outside experiences with coaching. Bucks’ connections with the Wycombe Wanderers and Berks & Bucks FA is a very useful link for us as prospectus students of sport.

Thankfully, we’re not all business here at Bucks. Our University football team has been doing exceedingly well in our league, and with that, comes celebrations. The Students Union puts on great Wednesday nights and the team morale is always high. We’re much like a family on Bucks FC, and this makes game and training days highly anticipated. Bucks is also a very well-rounded university, so I’ve made life-long friends from all kinds of different courses outside of football as well. Life is great when you love the people you’re around!

People often ask me why I decided to come to England for University. Many young English women look to go to America because they offer elite athletics to their students. I know that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the ocean, but Bucks offered me a better deal overall.  I can play football at a very elite level here, at the same time as attending university, just like at home.  But my degree is much more focused here, without a lot of off-topic classes not relevant to my career choice.  Some of my friends in the USA are enrolled in classes such as, "French Literature", or "Intro to Philosophy", which are fine and important topics...just maybe not for a Sport Science student like me.  Then, having such a "focused" course means that there is a great savings in time and money.  An equivalent course in the USA would take four years, whereas I will be done in three here at Bucks. 

Looking back, my crazy/brave decision was worth it. I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing here at Bucks. It has been an amazing experience so far and I look forward to my next two and a half years here.