Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2005

Athlete to navigate new waters at KSU

May 12, 2005

When Ashley Brooks goes off to Kansas State University in August, she will begin training with the school's rowing team. She was recruited for the team even though she has never rowed competitively.

But trying new things is nothing new for Brooks, a Lansing High School senior who spent her junior year of high school studying abroad in Belgium. For 10 months, she lived with host families in the western part of the country where the people speak Dutch, which she didn't know a word of when she arrived.

"The first couple weeks are the hardest," Brooks said. "You're confused and you don't understand anything."

Brooks attended a Belgian school in Kortrijk. She said she took language lessons for two hours each week for eight weeks when she arrived through her study-abroad program. She said one reason she had picked Belgium was because of the languages; the national languages are Dutch, French and German.

Brooks said the program allowed plenty of time for traveling - she visited an aquarium in Barcelona, Spain; Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Brussels, the capital of Belgium; and France and England.

The taste of traveling she got from studying abroad has sparked further interest in it for Brooks. She's planning to study business -possibly international business in a field of recreation or travel - at K-State, and she said she hoped to study abroad again in her junior year of college. She said she would try to live in a dorm next time because she already had experience living with host families.

After her experience of leaving her family and friends for a year, Brooks said college didn't seem as intimidating.

"Talking with students around here, most are nervous or scared (about going to college)," Brooks said, "but I'm completely ready."

Brooks said even leaving a three-year volleyball career at LHS to try her arms as a novice rower was more exciting than intimidating.

"I love to try new things," she said. "There's an adrenaline rush from jumping in."

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