Studying abroad as a college athlete can be challenging. How do you fit it in to your schedule? Can you keep up your training while you’re away? It’s a lot to think about, and we’re here to tell you that study abroad for athletes is possible!
Since 2004, we've partnered with the University of Michigan to send Wolverines abroad. This spring, the University of Michigan football program gave their players the chance to study abroad in Italy, and we're excited to announce that IES Abroad Customized Programs was part of the Wolverines' experience.
At the end of April, University of Michigan football staff and team members spent a week in Rome where they trained at A.S. Roma’s facilities, played a scrimmage game open to the public, and participated in a range of team and cultural activities.
In a press release distributed earlier this year, Jim Harbaugh, U-M's J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach, commented: "I am excited that our student-athletes will be able to take advantage of this amazing educational opportunity, be exposed to another culture, and be ambassadors for the United States and the University of Michigan during our visit to Rome."
Following the week of football training, the Michigan football athletes participated in a two-week industry shadow experience through IES Abroad Customized Programs to immerse them in Italian culture, and learn about the professional business culture of Italy.
The shadow experiences took place at Baasbox, a cloud-computing service business, and Karaoke One, a new music-focused social media network, both of which are located in Luiss Enlabs, an exciting startup accelerator in the heart of Rome.
Meet the University of Michigan players and check out what they had to say about their study abroad experience in Rome. Spoiler alert—they loved it!
Name: James F.
Name: Nate S.
Name: Sean M.
Name: Spencer D.
IES Abroad: Why do you think it is important to study abroad or intern abroad as a college athlete?
Nate: It’s important because when you have practice and sport commitments 11 months out of the year, the one month you have free is a great opportunity to get out of a regular routine and experience a whole new country and culture through study abroad.
Sean: Interning/studying abroad opens up a whole new world to a college athlete from the United States. You have an opportunity to do something that might not ever be available again the rest of your life. I never had the opportunity to travel outside of America before, so using football and the University of Michigan to study abroad has greatly affected my view of the world and gave me experiences I will always remember.
IES Abroad: What has been the highlight of your study abroad experience with IES Abroad?
Spencer: The highlight of the study abroad experience has been the staff that we have been placed with. They have accepted us with open arms and have really been great to work with. Study abroad will certainly benefit my professional career as it will give me the tools necessary to work and integrate myself into foreign markets/workplaces, and from this experience I will be able to prove to prospective employers that I do have these skills.
Sean: The highlight of my internship was just observing the culture of the workplace in Italy and getting to make real contributions to my company. The culture of the workplace is a little different than in the United States, and I think it is good to have a different perspective on it. Personally, I enjoy the Italian workplace a lot, as it is somewhat casual, relaxed, but focused when it is time to work. In terms of work, it feels good to make actual contributions to the company. Knowing you helped them become more successful is a great feeling.
IES Abroad: How do you think this study abroad experience might benefit your academic and/or professional career?
Spencer: This experience will certainly benefit my professional career as it will give me the tools necessary to work and integrate myself into foreign markets/workplaces, and I will be able to prove to prospective employers that I do have these skills.
James: I think this experience has given me good cultural experience and enhanced perspective. Down the road, I will likely have to communicate with people from different cultures and languages in whatever job I have, and this experience with help with that.
IES Abroad: What is your favorite part of Rome? What should future study abroad students experience while they are there?
James: Three things that have been the best so far: Colosseum and Roman Forum tour, St. Peter's Basilica Sistine Chapel tour, and being at the Papal Address. In my opinion, Rome is the most historical place in the world, and people should see as much of it as possible. Also, Rome is a great city to study abroad because it is easy to travel to the other great places in Italy in a short amount of time.
Nate: See everything you can; everyone knows about the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, but there is a lot more to see if you go out without a guide and walk around all different parts of the city.
Wolverines wanting to study abroad should check out our partnership with the University of Michigan. If you’re a sports fan or an athlete, check out the best places to study abroad for sports fanatics.