How I Studied Abroad as a Student-Athlete

Katie Holt is a student athlete at the Mississippi State University. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying aboad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

For my whole life, I have been passionate about two things in particular; travel and the sport I play. I grew up in a big family and as often as we could we took road trips across the country. Some of my favorite childhood memories are those of the many road trips with my family. I also grew up playing golf. Since I was nine years old, it has been a rare occasion to find me somewhere other than on the golf course.

When I was younger, I never had to choose between playing golf or getting to travel. If I wasn’t playing golf, I was traveling and if I wasn’t traveling, I was playing golf. I even got to travel and play golf sometimes when competing in amateur tournaments.

Competing at the Division One level, I am fortunate enough to travel and compete in some of the most beautiful places across North America. East Coast, West Coast, and everywhere in the middle, including a trip to compete in Mexico.

What more could a student-athlete hope for? For a person who loves to travel as much as she loves the sport she plays, being a college athlete has been a whole lot of fun.

I wanted something more from my travels, though. The rush and fast pace of each season is exhilarating, yet there was part of me that wanted to slow down and really experience life abroad. To know what it was like to be immersed in a completely new culture.

Initially, I was concerned about finding dates that worked with my limited off-season schedule. Similar to a few other collegiate sports, college golf has two seasons; we compete during both the fall and the spring. Knowing this, I narrowed my search to summer programs. A common misconception about study abroad programs is that there are only semester-long and year-long programs, when in fact there are a plethora of flexible options available to fit many types of schedules.

After looking through all the country options, potential classes, and program dates, I decided on Florence for Summer 2 and 3.

I was also worried about what a study abroad would mean for my practice and conditioning schedule. Though our summer schedules are not nearly as intense as our in-season schedules, we always keep up with tournaments and conditioning so we return in the fall ready to compete.

After a bit of research, I came across a couple different golf courses that were not far from Florence and easily accessible by taxi. Additionally, the university I would be attending, Florence University of the Arts, had a gym on campus where I could keep up with my conditioning while abroad.

With this, I felt more comfortable knowing I could continue to progress skills on the course while also getting the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad.

If you are a student athlete and are considering pursuing a study abroad, here are some things to keep in mind while making this exciting decision:

–         While maybe a year or semester program may be out of reach due to your competitive schedule, consider a summer program or J-term. ISA has a lot of flexible options.

–         Before you knock studying abroad because you think you won’t be able to practice or condition, do some research on the cities and universities you are considering. Some universities have gyms that are accessible to students. If your university does not, the ISA office in your host city can help you find a gym that suits your needs.

–         As far as practice facilities, check out local parks and community centers. You could even reach out to local teams and see if you could practice with them during your time abroad.

–         Facilitate with your coach(es) your intentions to study abroad. If they are apprehensive about your decision to study abroad, reassure them you can continue to train and condition while abroad.

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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