Leaving home and moving away from family and friends can be very challenging, especially when you’re coming from a different country. As an international student-athlete, the challenges can be incredibly overwhelming. You have to adjust to some differences, such as language barriers, food, cultural expectations, different coaching styles, along with a different style of play for your sport. Here are some things you can expect when playing a sport in the United States. 2aDays talked to former Stanford field hockey goalie Dulcie Davies about her international recruiting process.
- Sports are a daily priority: You will somehow or someway have to be connected with your sport on a regular basis. You might have practice, team meetings, video sessions, rehab, weight training, events or with your teammates and of course games! Your sport will consume a significant part of your day, so this could be a juggling act. When you are trying to balance your sport, academics, studying, and social life, it’s safe to say your time management skills have to be on point.
- If you are struggling, ask for help: As an international student-athlete, you will be faced with many challenges. You might feel homesick or feel like the cultural differences are overwhelming. It takes courage to ask for help, so have the courage to ask for it! Remember, there are others out there that might be feeling the same way you are, have the strength to reach out, you can help one another by talking about your concerns. You can also reach out to a professor, advisor, or a coach.
- Educating the AD and coach: Coaches and athletic departments want a solid program, and they want all their team members to work as a team. You can help by setting up a meeting with your coach to talk about the differences and how they can put a plan in action to make the transition an easy one for everyone.
- School matters so choose wisely: Value your academics and take some time to evaluate and choose your classes wisely, you only have a certain number of credits, do not waste them!
- Freshman 15: American food can be very rich so be careful not to overdo your daily recommended allowance of food. A balanced diet is a key to maintaining a healthy weight. This will help you in your everyday life and when playing your sport. If you do not understand the food charts, you can see a nurse at the school.
- Homesick: Developing a support system with coaches and teammates is a major step in dealing with homesickness. Reach out to your coach and ask for help if you are feeling lonely. Work hard at adapting to some of the American cultures, break the barriers by talking to your teammates and classmates on a daily basis. Try to be positive and upbeat; no one likes a Debbie downer. Your team is your second family and creating a strong bond with them will help.
- Persistence: You have this great gift of playing a sport in the United States, do not take advantage of it. You need to be focused, dedicated, hardworking but most importantly you need to be persistent. I promise you if you follow these rules you will be a successful International student-athlete.
* Originally published on September 22, 2016, by Barbara Gonzalez