From Madrid to Indy: Nerea Lancho pursues athletic, academic aspirations at IUPUI

Photo by Justin Casterline, courtesy of Nerea Lancho
Photo by Justin Casterline, courtesy of Nerea Lancho

Nerea Lancho, a freshman, came to IUPUI from Madrid, Spain to continue playing golf and further her education at the same time. She has been playing golf seriously since she was 13 years old. 

“It's just like relaxing but challenging at the same time,” Lancho said. “Even if you're super good at it, you can always improve something.”

Lancho was with an agency in Spain that helped her find schools here in the U.S. With her agency, Lancho created a portfolio, a video book and an athletic CV with her achievements and statistics to demonstrate her skills to recruiters in the U.S.

“It's very different because you don't really know coaches here in the U.S. and they don't really know you,” Lancho said.

Once the recruiters found her through the agency, initial emails and phone calls occurred, then finally the schools with interest sent official offers and scholarships. After the long recruitment process, Lancho ultimately decided on IUPUI. 

“I had a lot of universities that I was talking to and that made me an offer but it was basically the scholarship and the golf team,” Lancho said. “IUPUI was one of the best golf teams I was talking to and then academically IUPUI is also a good university, especially the Kelley School of Business.”

Lancho is a finance and international studies major at the Kelley School of Business. While she enjoys her studies here, she notes how her education is different in the U.S. than it was back home in Spain.

“I feel like here it's more about assignments and quizzes, homework. The classes are also smaller and like the professors know who you are,” Lancho said. “In Spain, you just go to class, you hear the lecture with a lot of people. Well, I mean, I don't know, like for other majors like biology, either if they are like super large classes, but for now, I haven't had a class bigger than 60, which I think is small for college.”

Photo by Justin Casterline, courtesy of Nerea Lancho

Lancho mentioned that student athletics are not as common at universities in Spain with the exception of a few basketball and soccer teams. Academics are typically put first, so those who want to pursue an education and continue to play their sport often have to look into schools abroad. 

“Being a student athlete they're very flexible with you,” Lancho said. “They know that maybe you have to miss class, if you're out for a tournament and they’re always like, ‘okay, it's fine’ and if you have an exam, like they allow you to do it a different day. So even though it's harder because you have less time you just really need to have good time management to be organized and have everything ready and on time.”

Lancho added that while the culture is very different from Spain, she likes it here.

“Sometimes at the beginning it was shocking, but I got used to it pretty easy,” Lancho said. “Everyone's very welcoming, they always ask you about who you are, like, where you're from, and those kinds of things. With classes, they know that you're not from here but they don't go slower just because English is not your first language, but if you have troubles or something you can always reach out.”

Lancho and her teammates just finished ninth overall of 11 teams at the IU Invitational in Bloomington on April 9-10 and are now getting ready for their next tournament, the Lady Jaguar Invitational, April 16-17. 

Katie Wiseman (she/her) is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is the editor of the Campus section for The Campus Citizen.

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