Behind 24 hours travelling and eventually I am back at home. It’s good time to think about my first semester in Sam Houston State University.
When I arrived to Houston almost four months ago my first sentence was “Is there really that hot in the evening?” The air felt so thick and humid, and this humidity was totally new for me. In the beginning the humidity made also my running pretty hard, and I sweated like a pig.
Despite the humidity, I felt home immediately when I came to Huntsville. The city felt safe and warm, and the campus seemed very nice. Weston helped me a lot in the beginning, and his hospitality got me feel very comfortable in Huntsville. Weston also spoke little Finnish so it was nice to have somebody who understood me when I didn't know some words in English in the beginning (even though I still miss many words). I am very grateful to Weston for all the things he did for me.
Even though Finland reminds US in many things, the US culture was different and I was living in the other side of the world. It took a while to get used to it. Many things worked different way in US, for example all measures were in pounds or miles. For example, I bought sheets 3 times before they were suitable for my bed. I used to do all the things at least two times before they managed, and therefore it took a lot of time to do daily duties every day. But at the same time, it helped me to become more patient – and it was very useful because as you know I am not the most patient person in the world.
My track and field team also helped me to adapt in Texas and Huntsville. I was immediately part of team and I was able to start practice with them. So I had schedule for every day – morning workouts, school and afternoon workouts. And I can’t ever forget our first quality workout in National Forest. We met 6.10 am and headed up to the National Forest. It was totally dark when we were driving there, and the coach was listening some creepy music. By myself I thought that I really have to trust this guy because I don’t have any idea where we are going, it’s totally dark and I am living in a foreign country. But there were also other athletes in his car so I knew that probably we are going to the right place. And everything went great, it was awesome to do workout when the sun was rising up. But I won’t ever forget this morning when we left to the practice.
All in all, I am really thankful to our coach Jesse that he took me part of the team and tried to understand me (and my bad English) and how I was used to do workouts. I think that he is the right guy in the right job. He finds many ways to motivate us and also try to think us as a person. Sometimes I also wonder how he is able to listen all the concerns that 20 of his athletes are telling him. Anyway, I feel he really works for us and try to help us to build up as an athlete.
So in the beginning everything went great and I was maybe too excited about everything – running, school and all the new things and people in Huntsville. Probably all these things affected that I injured. I didn’t listen myself; I just wanted to run and tried to be like all other athletes. Many small things together made me injured, first groin injury and after that my lower back. Probably these injuries came in the same time because I felt some tightness in my buttock already during the groin injury even though I didn’t run at all. It took overall 5 weeks before I was able to start to run again. Those five weeks were pretty long because at the same time I saw how all the other athletes made great results in workouts as well as cross country races. Of course I was happy for them but I would like have been there too. It was the reason why I came to SHSU – to run my first real cross country season (in Finland we don’t have similar cross country season, it’s much shorter and it’s in the spring time so all mailers don’t even race there).
Women’s team did great job during the whole cross country season and the prize was 2nd place in Southland Conference Championships missing just one point to the 1st place. I was very happy for the girls because I think they really earned this placing. At the same time I couldn't be without thinking that how we had probably won if I had been able to race. At that time I had done a 4 kilometer tempo run so there was no sense to race. I could have been able to jog the race but at the same time the coach was afraid that I would get injured again so we decided that I wouldn't race.
Today I feel it was the right decision because I have been running almost 8 weeks and I have been able to build up my miles. That was also the day that made me to think to stay longer in SHSU. I was very sad when we came back from this race and I thought that I don’t want to leave this team in December but I want to be part of it for longer. In that time some of my teammates had also been asking that if I would come back in January. I said I don’t know. I hadn't even thought that I could come back after Christmas because I saw two options; stay in Texas the whole year or go back home after the Fall semester. However, after the Cross Country Championships I started to think that option, and in couple of days I knew that I would like to stay another semester in SHSU. Of course I was afraid that I would injure again but at the same time felt that this is “once in life time” possibility and if I never try I won’t know what it brings with. I also thought that I could work out more wisely than I did before my injuries.
Along with running many other things affected my decision to stay longer. My parents were ready to support my staying there and I also felt that many of my Finnish friends would understand my decision to extend my exchange. I had also met so many friendly and lovely people that I wanted to spend great time with them longer. There was always somebody to take me to a grocery store, run with me and just help me out with small things I faced every day.
During these 4 months I feel that Texas has become my second home thanks to my dear roommates with who has been very easy and nice to live. (I hope they have understood my porridge cooking every morning 5.50 as well.) And of course if I say I have a second home in Texas I also have my second family there. So my team has become my second family there in Texas.
So all in all, I want to thank you all for this awesome fall semester. I really enjoyed every day in Texas and learned Texas attitude “to live in the moment” without worrying too much about tomorrow. But I still stress out so I have to come back to Texas in January.
But now I will enjoy the Finnish Winter (21 Fahrenheit today) and we will see in January. Merry Christmas yall! <3