25 July 2017

Why I chose to study abroad as a US college level athlete

Lucas Wetherby
Student from the United States of America

I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but I never really thought that, as an athlete, it would be possible. I went to many meetings and study abroad fairs trying to find the right fit for me, trying to make something work.

As a college level athlete, it is really difficult to study abroad in the off season because that is usually when the team trains the hardest, both as individuals and collectively. 

Choosing where and what to study

My advisor, Gail Gilbert, asked me if I was open to any other places that weren't on my original list of places to study abroad and I said yes. So I went to a meeting for New Zealand and met with Greg who was visiting my home school, Elmhurst College. He told me about the new Global Student Athlete programme at Massey University. It sounded really exciting and he sold me on the idea – I could choose my workout plans based on what I wanted to achieve from the experience. Having different levels to chose from was really helpful as I needed something to push me and make me a better and stronger athlete.  

The program I chose was the Strength and Conditioning Program. I also joined the Massey Federation soccer team which is keeping me in good condition, giving me real game experience and is exactly what I need. My personal trainer, James Amon, at the Sports and Rugby Institute is kicking my butt every week and has designed individualised workout sessions for me so that I am continuously getting stronger and more ready for my return to Elmhurst Men's Soccer in Chicago.

Lucas at the Sports and Rugby Institute

The facilities have been fantastic – every athlete loves a good ice bath after intense workouts. After only three months I’ve started seeing huge results as an improved athlete and it has shown me that if you work hard everyday you can accomplish a lot, even in what feels like a short semester abroad. The trainers have also been flexible which has been helpful in ensuring that my studies are finished and turned in on time.

I chose New Zealand because I wanted to experience something very different. I have backpacked and travelled through most of Europe and wanted a change of scenery. The individual and specific training programs with different options that I could choose from is what really sold Massey University for me.

Individualized workout sessions

Why I chose to study abroad as a US college level athlete I enjoy doing outside activities and New Zealand offers so many to chose from. I joined the Alpine Club here on campus and it’s probably the best decision I made. I made so many friends through the club and have had the opportunity to travel all around New Zealand – it’s been amazing. I can't tell you my favorite experience in New Zealand so far because they have all been insane. Between climbing Mount Ngauruhoe, doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, visiting Napier and Rotorua, as well as hut trips up to Mount Ruapehu, they have all been incredible fun. 

New Zealand has been amazing to me, the people here have gone out of their way to make sure I feel welcome and get to see as much of the country as I can. I have one full month left and I am already feeling nostalgic about having to leave this amazing place!

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About the contributors
Lucas Wetherby
Student from the United States of America