Student athletes have a lot to juggle between training, competing, and their school work to the point that studying abroad can seem like a far-off dream. However, more and more athletes are taking advantage of these opportunities and reaping the benefits that an international experience can provide:
- Global perspective on their coursework.
- An advantage in the global workforce through the skills they will learn while abroad (flexibility, language, ability to work in cross-cultural teams, independence, etc.).
- An opportunity to view sports through a new cultural lens.
- A greater understanding of themselves and the US.
The Office of International Education and Development is committed to helping student athletes find a program that enables them to make continued progress to their degree while still allowing them to be on-campus for practices and competition.
Important things to keep in mind while planning an international experience:
Communication – Please discuss in advance your interest in study abroad with your coaches, academic advisors, and if applicable, your teammates and parents/guardians. It may also be helpful to speak with other athletes that have studied abroad to consider the pros and cons of your decision.
Timing – Study abroad programs are available in the spring/fall/academic year as well as during the spring and winter breaks and summer sessions. Think about when your athletic season takes place; do you have obligations in the preseason and or additional tournaments in the postseason? Are there team commitments and training scheduled in the off-season? Appalachian offers a variety of program options for students; from faculty led programs, to short-term partner and semester options that range from 1 week to 8 months abroad.
Funding – There are various funding resources available for students looking to study abroad. Students participating on semester study abroad programs will be eligible to apply their normal semester financial aid package to their program costs. Students are also encouraged to research additional scholarship opportunities. Additional athletics funding sources could be available for qualified students. See your team's sport administrator for more information.
NCAA Compliance & Eligibility – As student athletes, there are certain rules you must adhere to regarding monetary compensation, accepting “gifts,” coaching, competing in events not sanctioned by the NCAA etc. These regulations can get complicated while you are overseas. Please speak with the Appalachian State Special Assistant for Athletics Compliance, James Bandy for clarification.
Nutrition – Depending on your host country and region, your eating pattern may not be the same as in the U.S. We recommend consulting with Appalachian State Nutritionist, Melissa Bryan, to create a nutrition plan prior to your departure if you expect your food selections to change while abroad. Additionally, upon your return, we recommend following up with your nutritionist to discuss responsible and healthy steps that will ensure optimal health and nutrition for your sport.
Training overseas – The onus is on you to stay in good physical condition for the duration of your study abroad experience. Speak with your host university/program provider about what training and athletic facilities you have access to in the host community. You may also want to create a workout routine with your strength and conditioning coach before going overseas. Keep your coaches and your teammates updated about your routine and progress. This can have a positive impact on team cohesion, despite the geographic separation.
Re-entry – The study abroad experience is transformative. When you return, you may experience reverse culture shock. The severity and when it occurs varies with each individual. If you require additional assistance during your re-adjustment process, Appalachian State Staff Counselor, Heidi Campbell is available for you. Another great resource are the advisors in the Office of International Education and Development.