Student Athletes

Traveling as a Student Athlete can pose unique opportunities and challenges.  This page aims to assist students involved in Varsity Athletics prepare for their time off-campus – academically and personally.  If you are thinking about or planning to study off-campus, please be sure to have a candid conversation with your Coach and Trainer.  This conversation should include which semester you are considering, developing a plan for training off campus, and if you will need any rehabilitation support while you are off-campus.  We also highly recommend that you also meet with an IOS Advisor to discuss the program(s) you are interested an applying for and/or your needs while off campus.

Statement of Support:
“The athletic department fully supports student athletes participation in study abroad programs. The educational opportunities, in diverse settings, that the study abroad program provides, benefits the development of our student athletes and reinforces the lessons we strive to teach within athletics.”
-Ryan Bowles, Athletic Director

Oles Go!  My Identity Abroad Story:
“This past interim, I had the incredible opportunity to study human development in India! As a member of the cross country and track teams, I was nervous about missing part of my indoor track season and staying in shape while abroad. However, my coaches were very supportive, and encouraged me and my teammates to take advantage of the many study abroad options St. Olaf offers its students. In similar regard, my professor was helpful in discussing feasibility and safely precautions of running in India. While training in India was definitely not easy, I was able to stay fit while still making the most of my time there. Looking back at everything I experienced while in India, I don’t at all regret missing part of my track season in exchange for an amazing month of growth, exploration, personal and social discovery, and stimulating thought!”
– Meredith Moore ’20, Human Development in a Cross Cultural Context, India (Interim)

“Traveling off campus and missing the second half of my basketball season as well as my entire track season was more difficult than I thought it would be. Going from nearly always being in season and working out with my team, to working out alone and non competitively whenever I could fit it in, was a big change. I had a really difficult time adjusting at first, especially as I watched my team finish their season without me. I still identified as an athlete but all of a sudden I wasn’t surrounded by my team. Eventually I joined a gym, and made some workout buddies, and really dove in to my experience abroad. I’m 6’2″ and I was constantly asked by Spaniards if I played basketball! It was a nice reminder that even as I was struggling with being unable to compete, others could still view me as a varsity athlete. In the end, I had an unbelievable experience in Seville, and it was well worth the cost of missing the competitions that I did. That being said, I’m looking forward to getting back on the court and on the track next year.”
– Makenna Ash ’19, CIEE Liberal Arts in Seville

Helpful Links:
Common Myths About Studying Abroad as a Student Athlete – Article
How to Study Abroad as a College Athlete – Article
NCAA – Study abroad changes and enriches – Article
NCAA – Summer of Success: Student Stories
Why Student Athletes Should Study Abroad – Article
Yes, Athletes Can Study Abroad – An IES Resource (including some student stories!)

Additional Considerations:
– Timing of your time off-campus deserves special consideration as a Student Athlete.  Will your athletic involvement allow a full semester, interim, summer, and/or year off-campus?  Which option makes the most sense given your athletic season and training needs?
– What type of program best fits your needs as a student and an athlete?  Do you want to be in a program with other American university students or do you want to be an international student directly enrolled in a university abroad?
– Will you need certain amenities to maintain your training?  Do you need access to a gym and/or a pool?  Do you need to be able to run outside?  Do you need time in your daily schedule for specific training?  If so, which programs fit what you need?
– Do you need to attend a program during the summer?  If so, St. Olaf has two approved summer programs: the International Summer School in Oslo and the Budapest Semester in Mathematics.
– Do you want to participate in an internship off-campus related to athletic training, exercise science, or another field?  If so, there are a number of off-campus study programs that have built-in or optional internships.
– Do your research on programs that will support the unique needs and challenges of student athletes.  If possible, during your exploration phase, reach out to the on-site staff of programs you are interested in attending and talk with them about what your needs are and what they can offer.  Be sure to ask if there are extra costs associated with gym memberships, access to a pool, and/or the facilities you need.
– Do you want to participate in athletic teams abroad?  Research programs that allow club sport participation.  Be sure to talk to your Coach about participating in organized athletic teams off-campus.
– If you are rehabilitating an injury, will you need accommodations or other types of support while off campus?  We encourage athletes who need this type of support off campus to work with Disability and Access.  You should also work with the Director of the  International and Off-Campus Studies Office, Jodi Malmgren,, if you will require accommodation support off-campus.
– It is important to note that in many locations herbal remedies are still relied on for pain relief, altitude sickness, etc.  Some of these remedies (coca tea for altitude sickness in Peru, for example) may result in negative drug test results, which could impact NCAA standing.  Be sure to double check how herbal remedies, teas, or other foods/drinks may impact your body/drug test results before consuming.