From Uruguay to ND

By Valentino Grasiuso

When you’re born in a third world country, most people don’t even think of the possibility of studying in the United States; it just seems so far from reality.

But, inspired by the dream of playing basketball at a higher level, I decided to take a chance in the land of opportunities when I was only 16.

It was nothing but pure excitement and fun during my exchange year—so much so that I decided to come back for my senior year of high school and try to find a University to attend.

UJ was the first school to give me a chance, and from the moment I opened the first package, I knew it was a good fit. Traveling further north to an even smaller town seemed crazy at the moment, but that’s one of the many lessons that this experience gave me: it doesn’t matter where you are—what matters are the people you are with.

Even though basketball didn’t end up working out, I am grateful for everyone in the program for taking me in and giving me a chance. I realized I was still looking for something bigger. Basketball opened many doors for me, took me to the United States, and now it was time to move on.

I found my spot in the team, not during the year I played, but during the years I didn’t. Being a part of the group in a different role made me realize that sometimes, experiences are meant to take you to a different place, but we shouldn’t be afraid of letting go.

UJ has a very special place in my heart. Throughout my years, I met some of the most incredible people. The ability to stop by your professor’s office to talk about schoolwork or personal endeavors is something you don’t hear from a lot of schools, so I am very grateful I had the chance of learning from the people I did. They not only taught me business, but many life lessons I will carry with me for a long time.

My English wasn’t very good at first. Throughout the years, my friends always worked with me to progressively improve and become part of their culture. An experience like this, being 6000 miles away from home, is not easy. I missed, I doubted, I struggled, but UJ always made me have a positive look on whatever was going on.

For future/current students and alumni, I would say: take risks, do what you love, and embrace discomfort. Life is what you make it, and opportunities seem crazy until they don’t. They say we have two lives; the second one starts when we realize we have only one. UJ helped me start living my second life.

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