By, Amanda Ciani
“This is captain speaking. Please fasten your seat belts, and prepare for takeoff.” The feelings of flying can either scare or intrigue people, but it’s the anticipation of getting to the final destination that make people go through the process. Waiting for the plane to take off a young man by the name of Carlos awaits his destiny in Mayagüez Puerto Rico.
This Oregon born and raise man of 21 came to Puerto Rico on a track and field scholarship for pole vaulting. Already in college, he was scouted through YouTube videos of him competing. A few calls from the coaches of the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus and he was on his way there. “I am someone who is always up for knew things and when I was offered the opportunity to move to an island I thought I would have been crazy to not take advantage of the opportunity,” said Carlos when questioned about why he decided to transfer colleges.
Coming to a new world, not knowing anyone or the language Carlos packed up his bags and moved leaving his family and friends behind. Stepping of the plane, “Hola, Mi nombre es Carlos,” the only words Carlos Vazquez knew how to speak when he arrived to Puerto Rico.
Becoming independent from his parents at the age of 16, Carlos learned the hardships of life and how to deal with them at an early age. He knew how to get where he wanted to go without having to depend on anyone. This work ethic showed in Carlos’s athletic ability.
Coming to the university for athletics with Hispanic trainers, Carlos had to depend more on himself than ever before to get in the workouts he needed in order to be competition ready. Not being able to communicate the way he normally would be able to with his coaches made him become even more independent.
This caused a problem with the coaches and Carlos. The coaches, never knew what Carlos was up to as far as work outs went, but when it came down to the competition he would do great, so they could not complain too much about his workout regimen.
When it comes to daily life, Carlos had a few interesting words to describe it. “When I first got here I had no idea what to expect. In the United States everything has its order, time and place, but here everything is jumbled together. I did not know how to react, but the food, on the other hand, was incredible. It is probably my favorite part besides the weather.”
When questioned about how professors treated him Carlos answered, “The teachers seemed to have a grudge against me from the moment I started speaking to them. Most were surprised to hear me speak English to them on the first day of class and when it came to exams I had no idea what to expect. It was a very different experience.”
Being a foreigner in a new land, not only visiting but studying for his bachelors of psychology as well, Carlos went through many problems that regular college students have never had to face. Taking classes and exams in a language not known to him and turning in papers and assignments that were in that same language caused Carlos to be up for hours and hours doing different course works for each class. “My professors would allow me to have a Spanish/English dictionary on most exams in case I did not understand the questions being asked or the words being used,” said Carlos.
Asking around campus the general observation of Carlos was to be a pretty easy going guy. “He likes to go with the flow,” said fellow pole-vaulter Samuel Serrano. “When I first met Carlos I noticed that he was a very easy going guy. Leaving everything he had and coming down here all alone took some serious courage, but it seemed to not bother him too much,” said Jessica Ortiz, girlfriend of Carlos for over a year now.
Unfortunately some untimely injuries occurred during his last year of competition and he will not be able to compete in Justas of 2014, but he still plans on continuing to study for his degree for the rest of this year, but after his scholarship years are up he is planning on moving back to the states and finishing his bachelors and masters at a different university.
“Ladies and gentlemen we have landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Please wait until the plane has reached the terminal, come to a complete stop and the captain has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign before getting out of your seats. We hope you enjoyed the flight and you pick Delta Airlines for your future travels. Enjoy your stay here in Puerto Rico.”