When you’re a student athlete, it’s hard to find time for anything other than studying and practicing. But many study abroad programs designed for student athletes provide the opportunity to travel to exciting new destinations, without sacrificing what’s most important to you. So if you’re ready to test your mettle in another country, read on to learn what kinds of programs are available, and how they will enrich your collegiate experience.
Setting your Sights on a Goal
When you’re passionate about the sport you play, it can be a little disheartening when no one shows up to watch the game. U.S. soccer players are all too familiar with this problem. But in other parts of the world, soccer is the most important sport around. So if you’re a collegiate soccer player, look for opportunities to play and study abroad.
Some play/study abroad programs are offered via independent organizations, like CEA Global Education. Its four-week program allows you to play soccer in Argentina, train with world-class coaches and compete against professional players. Or, if you attend the University of Wisconsin, you can apply for the Wisconsin in Scotland program. Participants in the UW program spend a semester or a summer in Scotland, living in an 18th century manor house, which is large enough to comfortably accommodate multiple players from one school.
Lacrosse across the Globe
Spend four weeks playing lacrosse in Amsterdam, the Guatemalan city of Antigua or Prague. Founded by two former lacrosse players, the Global Players organization looks for the best destinations for lacrosse programs and has placed 75 players in study abroad locations.
The organization takes safety seriously – particularly in Guatemala, where the threat of violent crime is critical, according to the U.S. Department of State. Students must check in every day with advisors and attend safety briefings before and during their stay in Guatemala.
Regardless of where you’re traveling, you should get a study abroad insurance policy, so you can get medical care if you should suffer an injury.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s member schools offer many study abroad opportunities for students to develop their skills, and you don’t have to attend a large university to find programs.
Central College, in Pella, Iowa, has less than 2,000 students and offers athletic study abroad programs in Wales, the Netherlands, England, Mexico, France, Austria, Spain and China.
Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minn., is known for its diversity of study abroad programs – from Mexico to Mongolia, and points in between. The wide range of opportunities allows student athletes to find programs that work for their regular-season schedules. One Macalester basketball player was able to play the final game of the season before hopping on a plane the next morning for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Get Out and Explore
Some student athletes have found that the study abroad program they want to attend cuts into their regular season at home. But you won’t regret missing a few games as much as you’d regret passing up the opportunity to study overseas.
You’ll earn credits when you study abroad, but even more important are the long-lasting memories you’ll have of what it was like to live and compete in another country.