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Student Resource Guide - Student Athletes

Student Athletes Study Away

As a student-athlete, there are some specific considerations that you may take into account – training, off-season commitments, seasonal (and post season) commitments, etc. Student-athletes complete GO through each of the types – GO Long (semester), GO Short (summer/winter break, with a group), GO Your Own Way (summer/winter break, independent). Below are some helpful tips, FAQ and additional stories from student-athletes.
Some things to keep in mind:
  • When does your season end? What are the typical dates of the program(s) to which you are interested in applying (ask the GO Office if you are unsure)?
  • Access to equipment/facilities: What facilities are on site? Are you on a campus with a gym/sports facility? Is outdoor exercise common in that country?
  • Will you need to make modifications to your work out regime – if so, work with your coach to identify options to modify your fitness/workouts.
  • For GO Long: use the advanced search feature for “Sports/Fitness” - a listing of sports, sports facilities, a club or a team in which you may be able to participate. 
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated! Be knowledgeable of the local cuisine(s) – fruit/vegetables/protein sources may be different. Try the local cuisines rather than US chains you may find away. Know what is included of your program - do you have a meal plan/self-catered meals (GO Long) or have group meals/allowance for food (GO Short).
  • Get involved! Sports are a great way to immerse yourself in the culture while you are away. 
Student-athlete FAQ:
Are there a lot of other athletes that go abroad?
YES! All athletes complete GO (like all SU students). Last year, 86 athletes completed GO through a GO Long, 46 through a GO Short and 3 a GO Your Own Way.
What previous GO short programs have athletes attended?
Athletes complete GO on various GO Short programs – some popular GO Short programs were Northern Ireland, Life is Good in Chile, Hawai’i, Greek Culture, and Iceland. Please note that these are popular programs with all students!
Does it matter if an athlete does a GO Short or GO Long?
*GO Short programs are experiential learning based programs that are highly structured. Depending on the program, it may be hard to find time to work out in addition to the activities that are occurring with the group. Some programs are very active and may include physical elements (construction, hiking, biking, and more). Refer to the sample itinerary of the programs to learn more.
*GO Long programs you are in a country/program for a semester (3-6 months) and taking courses, which means you may be able to get into a routine. Some programs have access to on-campus facilities while others
Is it difficult to maintain your workouts while on your GO program?
It will be up to you to alter your workouts depending on the program and activities.
What if I go on a GO Short that is at the end of the school year but I/the team is in post-season play?
We monitor the post-season play closely (particularly as it pertains to summer GO Short programs) and will work with you as best we can to find a solution if your sport goes into post-season play and the dates conflict with GO.
Do athletes get roomed together?
The semester prior to departure you will submit room requests (for a GO Short or GO Long program). This is not a guarantee but requests are taken into account by the program/university.
Will foreign teams let you work out with them? /Are there club sports at any of the schools abroad?
Teams have invited SU students to train or play with them in the past but it does take initiative from the SU student. For GO Long in particular: Some universities you have the full facilities available to you – others maybe you need to search a bit more to find a team/club to join. Use the advanced search feature for “Sports/Fitness” - a listing of sports, sports facilities, a club or a team in which you may be able to participate. 

In your research about the facilities available to you in different locations – take into account if there are additional fees for gym facilities – some students have found that trying to find a gym comparable to the one at SU hard and expensive. 

Student-athlete Stories:
We asked some student-athletes about their experience during their GO program, here’s what they said!

Q: What was the hardest adjustment for fitness/training you had to make while being away? Please include how you overcame the difficulty.
  • Adjustment for my overall fitness and training was making sure I stayed hydrated because temperatures do reach high temperatures.  Bring a type of water purification system just in case you would want to take water from a location one might think is suitable to consume.  Other than that all other things stayed the same. I also overcame this by making sure I always walked around with some type of hydration (water, juice, Gatorade, etc). (Justin Miller, Baseball, GO Short – Chile)
  • If you’re a member of team sports at Susquehanna you’ll agree that a large aspect of your training thrives on competition and the team environment. While you’re abroad, you may find yourself having to self-motivate more than you would on campus. The strength and conditioning coach did send out a workout packet for the abroad students to follow, however, there wasn’t really anyone to hold you accountable. You must do your own work while no one is watching, this is new and challenging for some athletes. If you are unable to find someone to push you while you’re abroad, keep in contact with your teammates or fellow athletes who are abroad and in the same boat as you. (Zoe Keim, Field Hockey, GO Long – UVA Valencia, Spain)
  • The hardest adjustment was keeping my diet healthy. I stayed with a host family, and the amount of food they would give me was just off the charts. I'm talking two loaves of bread a day, and it is considered rude in Spain to not eat everything on the plate. Eventually, as I got more comfortable, I would tell my host mom to give me less and assure her that I was not disrespecting her! You can also ask your Program Director to speak to them, if you are too uncomfortable. I also found it difficult with traveling and my course load to find the time to work out. I would walk a 10-11 miles each day, so even when I wasn't able to run, I would go for a hike or a walk through the Alhambra to stay active. (Alexa Gonzalez, Softball, GO Long – Central College Abroad Granada, Spain)
  • It is difficult to golf while away from home because you need your clubs in order to play. I did not bring my clubs with me, so I could not practice while I was abroad. Regardless, I was still active because fitness is important to me. For example, I tried a yoga class, which I had never done before. Even if you cannot practice your specific sport, it is still valuable to exercise. (Samantha Thompson, Golf, GO Your Own Way – Italy)
  • It was difficult for me to train with others who were at the same competitive level as I was. Instead I played pickup soccer with a group of people I met by chance and tended to be outgoing about asking to join in beach soccer games. I also had to join a gym while away to stay strong and fit. (Max Reed, Soccer, GO Long - IFSA Butler –Griffith University, Australia)
  • The hardest adjustment with maintaining my training while I was abroad was that the facilities in my city that I had to choose from didn't reflect the necessities of the training regimen I was used to. They didn't have certain machines, weights, or areas in order for me to work out like I would at Susquehanna. To overcome this, I looked at the workout and checked which areas they targeted and then picked machines that did the same thing. It was also difficult working with the weight percentages given on our usual workout just because the conversion between kilograms and pounds made it difficult to truly know how much I was lifting. (Janai Henderson, Volleyball, GO Long – Spanish Studies Abroad in Alicante, Spain) 
Q: Did you have the opportunity to play or train while away? How did you find the opportunity/facilities? What are some differences/similarities that you noticed?
  • While away I did have the opportunity to play because we helped a lot of the under privileged children in the area learn more about the sport while also giving them new gear to use. We also scrimmaged the Santiago baseball team at the Chilean Olympic training center.  The Olympic center was cool to see and also play at because their facilities were similar to ours which was surprising because one would believe their facilities would be better because they are professionals but it really is not.  Their soccer stadium was very neat to see as well.  Overall the facilities presented to us were well kept and playable.  (Justin Miller, Baseball, GO Short – Chile)
  • I did not find time to play while I was abroad, but I had the opportunity to train. My program helped us acquire gym memberships if we wanted one and even paid for it. (Zoe Keim, Field Hockey, GO Long – UVA Valencia, Spain)
  • I did not have the opportunity to play softball, mostly because in Spain they don't even know what that is. One day I was having a catch in the park close to my house and an older woman came up to me and asked "Doesn't that hurt you?" But, I was lucky enough to have friends in my program that would catch me once or twice a week. Spain has great weather, so I took advantage of Federico Garcia Lorca Park, where there was a ton of space to throw, and there was a group that met nightly to run which I also joined. There were gyms around the city, but they were both expensive and only offered full-year memberships so I stuck to outdoor workouts, running in the various streets and parks, and I even bought light weights and bands to use in my room in the mornings. (Alexa Gonzalez, Softball, GO Long – Central College Abroad Granada, Spain)
  • I was able to train while I was away but it was difficult to do so similarly to I would here. I wasn't really able to play due to the location. Indoor volleyball wasn't very popular and, while beach volleyball was huge due to it being a coastal city, the residents found it too cold during my time abroad so no one was ever playing. (Janai Henderson, Volleyball, GO Long – Spanish Studies Abroad in Alicante, Spain) 
Q: What were the gym/facilities like for you while away? How did you find the opportunity/facilities? Was there a fee/special equipment/etc.?
  • Entering a gym with others who were not all college students like it typically is on campus. There were many body builders that worked out at my gym as well as group classes which would come in and take over the whole space which was frustrating to handle while trying to follow a plan. Additionally, all other countries use the metric system of kilograms and kilometers which takes a moment to adjust to. (Zoe Keim, Field Hockey, GO Long – UVA Valencia, Spain)
  • The apartment building, I stayed in had its own gym, although it was too small for me. I decided to pay a $300 fee for a 4-month gym membership at the gym on campus. The membership included access to 2 different on campus gyms, entry to any of the many exercise classes, and access to the full Olympic size swimming pool. (Max Reed, Soccer, GO Long - IFSA Butler –Griffith University, Australia)
  • The gym was small and the things I needed, especially squat racks and platforms for hang cleans, were scarce. I paid 45 euro for a 6 month membership at the gym on campus; it was the cheapest and most accessible option. (Janai Henderson, Volleyball, GO Long – Spanish Studies Abroad in Alicante, Spain) 
Q: How did you adapt your training plan to maintain your fitness while away? In what ways, if any, was it difficult to maintain your workouts while on your GO program?
  • Although your fitness schedule may be important in terms of your team’s goals, your GO experience should not be entirely arranged around your training schedule. Traveling is either a lot of motion or a lot of sitting still. Work your workouts in where you can and change it up to keep yourself interested and driven. You may need to change up your plans in order to fit your schedule or the equipment and space which you’re provided. I also suggest you use your workouts as a chance to explore your GO location such as exploring on a run, or getting involved in a local team to bond with locals, experience culture, and perhaps learn a few new things about yourself as an athlete or your sport. (Zoe Keim, Field Hockey, GO Long – UVA Valencia, Spain)
  • I was abroad for a month, so it was difficult to fit everything in and also find the time to work out every day. Even if I did not do a true workout one day, I still tried to walk and be active when I could. For example, I walked everywhere and did not ever use a taxi to get around. (Samantha Thompson, Golf, GO Your Own Way – Italy) 
Zoe Keim was a GO Blogger who also addressed being an athlete abroad in a blog post

Advice from a coach:
  • “Embrace a heathy lifestyle all year long; while they may not be able to swim/dive while they are away they can stay "fit" and eat well; they have to stay active doing whatever is available to them, walk, run, do exercise bands, and body weight exercises as they can.” – Jerry Foley, Swimming and Diving coach