by Ashleigh Wheeler, CBU Sports Information Intern
Starting your freshman year of college, making new friends and figuring out how to balance homework and practices is hard for anyone, but it is especially difficult when you are an international student and English is your second language.
This is the challenge that freshman Norbert Karoly, a native to Hungary, is facing. Although to him, it is less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to experience life in the United States and to play water polo, the sport he loves most.
Karoly grew up in Budapest, Hungary, with his parents and older brother Zsolt where he played water polo for his club team, BVSC. Three years ago, Karoly took a trip to Coronado, Calif., near San Diego, with his club team to train and scrimmage against national prep power Coronado High School. After his one-month visit Karoly was asked to stay and play his senior year at Coronado High.
Karoly was able to come over through an international exchange program and stayed with a host family. Before coming to California, though, Karoly spent two years with a private tutor learning how to speak English. He admits that it was not until he lived here and was immersed in the language that he actually started understanding it fully.
“When I first came to California it was a little hard for me because I didn’t know that much English, but then I started talking with my friends and I watched TV so I was able to pick up on the words and the different meanings,” said Karoly.
After his senior year of high school, Karoly wanted to stay in California and play water polo at the college level. He was recruited by some of the top schools including California Berkley, UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. However, it was through a friend that Karoly heard about CBU.
“One of my best friends in Coronado, Rex Butler, has a sister who swam at CBU and she told me to check it out,” said Karoly “I went and met the coach and really liked it here, so I decided it was a good choice for me.”
With the start of the 2008 season, Karoly has already proven he is a force to be reckoned with in the water. So far, the freshman has scored 12 goals as well as dished out six assists and nabbed six steals.
Although Karoly loves living in California, he still is loyal to his deep Hungarian roots. When the U.S. played Hungary for the men’s water polo gold medal at the recent Olympic Games Karoly knew there was no question who was the better team.
“Of course I wanted Hungary to win the Olympic gold medal and I was never worried because they are the best team in the world,” said Karoly. “But of course I was glad the USA did well because I know a lot of the players through my high school coach and they are really nice guys and great water polo players.”
Living in California permanently is something that Karoly has not ruled out of his future, although he misses his country and the friendly European atmosphere it offers.
“I miss my home and my family but I am open to whatever might happen,” said Karoly. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a nice American girl and I will stay here and start my own business.”
Whatever the future holds for the courageous foreigner is unknown, but Karoly’s future at CBU is looking bright and promising.