Has the integration of international students into the university caught your attention?
Yes, definitely, especially these past few years, we´ve noticed that more students are getting involved with our activities and services.
Which international students do you see round your department the most?
It has to be the European students that come to our department the most, mainly those from English speaking countries. Students who already do sports in their home countries seem to be the ones who use our service the most. It´s obvious that they are English or some are from Norway. These are the nationalities we are noticing the most around our department.
What sort of services do they come to ask you about?
The boys are normally more interested in taking part in competitive sports and competitions, while the girls are more interested in finding out about gym courses and activities. The Italian and Latin American students are normally more interested in competitive sports.
What aspect do you think will interest the international students the most about the services you offer?
Well, I think what will interest them the most about our service are the services we already offer them, because although we don´t have a lot of leeway in terms of facilities, I think students are also interested in doing sports because it´s an excellent way for them to socialize and integrate with other students and to develop friendships. So, I think this is an aspect of our service that the university can really benefit from, since our service can really help the Erasmus students with socializing and integrating, not just around the university but around the city too.
Can you remember any interesting incidents you´ve had with the international students that you´d like to share with us?
There hasn´t really been anything that stood out, though there have been cases where there have been misunderstandings about the rules for different games, because in some places certain games are played differently, or the rules are different. For instance there has been confusion about games like five a side because in other countries it´s played with five players per team whereas here it´s played with only four. So nothing that really stands out, just instances where there has been confusion about game rules.
What do you think international students can contribute to your service and what can they gain from it?
We try to talk to them so we can find out more about the type of activities they do in their universities and in their countries, so we can improve our services too. We are focusing less on the sports that we do here in Spain and more on those that are popular around Europe. We are carrying out research into the sports that are being done in Europe, because I think what we do here in Spain is a lot of competitive sport but what I am finding out through my research and what is being communicated to us on an international level is that people are interested in sports that involve team work, that are fun, etc. So we are trying to adjust to this type of sports and we have already made the first step into doing so. However, what we also need are for students to give us ideas. We´ve seen lots of combat based sports or games like Frisbee and I think we really need to introduce these to our university. The problem is that we don´t have a space that is designed for these sort of activities; what we really need is a field because from what I´ve seen through my research and the universities that I´ve visited in Europe, they always have a field where they carry out these sports. We´ve recently asked the Taiwanese students what sports they do in their country, because we want to try to give you the opportunity to also practice them here, in Spain.
Do you think it will possible to create a space to play these sports in?
Yes, we are actually planning to hold an event called; sports around the world, where people can play traditional games from countries around the world. We´ve looked into this on the internet, but we would also like to hear from our international students, to get them to tell us what they do in their university or town. We would like to be able to have a day dedicated to the traditional sports played in their home countries. This would be something we could propose, but we need to look into this a bit more. We also really need the help of our international students; we need them to tell us what would be fun for them? What sports are typical in their town, that you would like to see at an event like this?
Of all the different nationalities you see around the university, which is the one that you find the most interesting?
The students that I am most curious about are the Arabian students, because I really don´t know how they come to be at our university, I know that there are projects in Taiwan to promote cooperation with our university but I really don´t know about how students from African countries come to be at our university.
What advice would you give the international students?
My advice would be that it is important to come out of your comfort zone and experience other countries and to learn from our culture, the same way that we can also learn from their culture. The exchange of cultural values and sports values I think is what we can benefit from the most. They can learn from us as much as we can learn from them, I hope and want my son can step out of his comfort zone and learn that there is more to the world than just Valencia and Spain… I think this is very important, to have a global perspective.