Friday, July 15, 2011

DREAM Alumni Update - Emily Saitta

Emily Saitta was an original DREAM Athlete, serving as a member of the program from 2008-2010. Saitta has competed as a member of University of Michigan's collegiate team, as well as been a member of Team USA while competing with the Crystallettes senior team. Before college, Saitta was a skater with the ICE'Kateers Synchronized Skating Teams, from Anaheim, Calif., for six years.

Since completing my time with the DREAM program, I have done quite a bit of skating and traveling. I decided to apply to study abroad in Sydney, Australia for the second semester of my junior year and was accepted into the program! I focused and worked really hard on my singles skating and passed my senior freeskate test in November 2010, right before I left for Sydney. This was a huge accomplishment for me and I was then able to “hang up my skates” for a few months while traveling around Australia. But before I took that 15 hour flight around the world, I had to get my synchro fix satisfied! In the two months I spent at home before flying to Australia, I skated with the ICE’Kateers senior synchronized skating team. After a few short weeks of training, I competed with the team at sectionals in Minnesota. I had a wonderful time performing the routines and was able to spend my last few months in California with some great friends.

Before I knew it, I was off to Australia for an adventure of a lifetime. I lived in Australia for 5 months taking a full load of classes, interning with travel agency Backpacker World Travel, and learning how to budget extremely well. I made great friendships, navigated through unfamiliar lands, and studied in a new teaching environment. A quote from my final posting to my personal blog that I updated while in Australia sums up my time while studying abroad:

“This has been perhaps the greatest experience of my life. I can't imagine my college career being complete without studying abroad. It is a learning experience you simply can't get any other way. I have learned so much from this experience, including increased knowledge in economics and the marine environment through my courses. I worked for a local business with English and Irish people learning about their cultures and lifestyles. I learned how to live off the land, make a fire, and even play guitar. I made great friends and explored an AMAZING country.

Walking past the opera house and Sydney Bridge never gets old. I am in awe every time. By talking to and living with individuals from other countries, my eyes were open to what goes on in the rest of the world. I even changed my homepage to BBC international! I have learned how to relax here and value the time I get to listen and talk with friends. Making dinner and singing to a guitar is just as great as camping in the rainforest and swimming under waterfalls when you are with great friends. Being here was such a surreal experience. Everything around you is beautiful and you are learning so much at the same time. I am so glad I did it.”

I have just returned home to California and am spending time with friends and family before I head back to the University of Michigan for my final year as a senior! This has been such an incredible journey and it proves to me that one can accomplish all of their desires including skating, studying abroad, being involved in clubs, attending sporting events, knowing professors personally, meeting incredible people, and being happy knowing that many doors are available just waiting to be opened!

--Emily Saitta

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