Welcome to Behind the G! This is a Georgia Way platform that shares student-athlete stories, hobbies, and what is important to them. To the world, student-athletes are viewed by their outcomes in their sports, but they are so much more than that. Our goal is to share with the world in their own words who they are as people, and the numerous ways they represent the G on and off the field.
My name is Marie-Therese Obst and I’m a 25-year-old javelin thrower from Norway. I was born in Berlin, Germany, but moved to Norway when I was 9. When people ask me, “where is your real home”, I say that I have three. I have one in Berlin, one in Oslo, Norway, and one here in Athens. My family is spread all over the world, which makes a family reunion very difficult. I came to the States back in the fall of 2017 after making the decision to leave not only my family, but also my coach, teammates, friends, and my comfortable home in Norway. I knew it was time for a new beginning, some fresh wind that would hopefully make me a better javelin thrower and human being. Did I know that it would be hard? Yes. But sometimes you need to spread your wings in order to achieve your goals. I felt stuck in Norway. I would train at the same place every single day, meet the same people, wake up and go to sleep at the same time, drive the same roads to practice and eat the same food. Day in, day out. It felt like I was living in a comfortable bubble, and I knew it was time to pick up a needle, burst the bubble and step into the most uncomfortable zone I’ve ever been in.
I remember the first night I came to Athens. After two flights and 15 hours since I left my house in Norway, I was finally arriving in Atlanta. My coach Don Babbitt had picked me up from the airport and we got to Athens late at night. It was so humid outside and I remember the sound of insects creeping me out. I checked in at the ECV dorms, and my room was completely dark and empty. The room came with a bed, but I had no pillow, no covers, nothing. The AC wasn’t working either, so that was the last straw that made me go into full breakdown mode. My body was shivering, and I laid down on the hard mattress crying while wrapping my arms around my legs in a fetal position to keep me warm. At that moment, I realized that I was completely alone for the first time in my life, and even if I wanted to, my mom was not able to save me this time.
Now, almost 4 years later, I have overcome the home sickness. It still sucks that I don’t get to see my family, and the time difference of six hours is making phone calls really hard. I usually get back home from practice around 6.30 p.m., and by that time my family is already asleep. The worst experience I had while being away from home was during quarantine. I couldn’t leave the country, so being stuck in Athens by myself was hard, especially in the beginning of the pandemic. All of my friends were posting videos and pictures of them enjoying time with their families, which made me realize just how much I missed mine. After one and a half years, I was finally able to go home for Christmas and hug my mom and sister who lives in Paris. Real tears were shed at the airport, and my mom gave me the longest and best hug ever.
People can tell you many stories about moving away from everything you know about life and the world. But you need to experience and make your own memories in order to fully understand what it means to live. It’s important to prepare yourself for a big decision like that. Moving thousands of miles away and putting an ocean between you and your family is no joke. You cannot just come visit them, you cannot just call them any time you want, and sadly you cannot just hug your mom when you are having a tough time.
During the last four years I have learned to stand on my own two feet. I have overcome multiple seriously hard times, and I did that alone. I am proud of myself for that. But being away from home is not that bad when you move to a city like Athens. Yes, Athens might be a little city, but I felt welcomed the moment I met all of my amazing friends, teammates and coaches. Never have I felt like I wanted to move back to Norway. Athens will forever be a place I am holding close to my heart, and I know it’ll always feel like coming back home when I see the “University of Georgia” sign on the highway.
Marie-Therese Obst – UGA Track & Field