lydiaPreviously in my life as an ice-dancer, when fall rolled around and the leaves started to change, I was preparing for my first big challenge of the competitive season. I sharpened my skates, did one last costume fitting, and of course changed the last section of my free-dance one final time. However, last year, for the first time, I traded my skate in for textbooks, and began the first chapter of my new life. I am currently a student of International Affairs at the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C.

At first I was baffled by the average life of a college student, and vice versa my roommates thought I was very strange to be getting up and exercising before my first 8am class. Despite my initial feeling of displacement, I soon became engaged in so many new and exciting subjects and opportunities. I can definitely attribute my interest in world cultures to all of my competitive experience across the seas. My love of learning about other countries and experiencing their cultures first-hand has caused me to acquire a desire to travel. My passion for peaceful resolutions to world conflict inspired me to declare International Affairs as my major. What better city to be in then our nation’s capital!

In addition to my classes this semester, I am currently interning on Capitol Hill with my hometown Senator, Tom Carper. It’s fascinating to watch U.S politics in action. I’m still “Senator struck,” as they call it here, bumping into Senators in the hallway. Although I have to admit, the artwork in the Capitol itself trumps even the Senators. Subsequently, in the spring I am looking forward to being an intern at the U.S. Department of State with the International Information Programs. At my school, a requirement for International Affair majors is specializing in a foreign language. By next year at this time I hope to be studying abroad in Moscow or St. Petersburg to improve my fluency in Russian, and of course take many pictures!

Although I have moved “beyond the blades,” I am still a skater at heart! The skating community reminds me of the line from the Eagles’ song Hotel California, “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” I learned so many valuable lessons from my experience as an ice-dancer. I learned that it’s important to strive for your personal best without hesitation, and the most important strength you will ever find comes from within. I have also discovered that one of the most rewarding parts of the sport is not the medals or the prestige of winning, but the lasting friendships that you build along the way. If I had to give advice to future ice-dancers, I would say make sure that you connect with your audience when you dance, make them feel like a part of your performance. You will get so much more out of the experience as well. Also, always be nice to your competitors, they might become your partner someday!

In the future I would love to continue my involvement in figure skating and be able to give back to the sport. I am currently serving on the athlete advisory committee, as well as several sub-committees. I also aspire to becoming a technical specialist for US Figure Skating. Good luck to all of the competitors this season, I’ll be cheering you on!