Home away from home

Coming to college is a big step in a young adult's life - moving away from home, adjusting to the college lifestyle and being amongst hundreds of strangers. These are the normal steps that a student in the U.S. goes through in moving to college and getting settled. But is the experience similar for an international student, or is it much more daunting?

Due to the range of sports that America has to offer, there are a large number of students from other countries making their way to the land of opportunity to test their mettle against some of the best athletes in the world. Even though international athletes are eager and ready to jump straight into their respective sports and settle down into their new student athlete lifestyle, there is a price they have to pay in adjusting to a new culture and realizing that home is an extremely long way away.

It is an exciting time in an international student-athlete's life when they get the news that they're going to be studying abroad while playing the sport they love. However, as the time draws closer, anxiety sets in, and the realization that home and everything else is being left behind starts to sink in.

"It's such a great opportunity and such an exciting time in your life when you get that news," said Australian international student and AWC offensive lineman Kipp Crosby. "It's a big deal moving away from home, but it's just an obstacle you have to face when you enter adulthood."

Domestic athletes have it much easier knowing that home is a short plane ride or a road trip away. International athletes have to rely on the support of those around them and the friends they make in college to get them through the day.

More importantly, settling into a whole new culture can be quite a shock. Several things run through a foreign student's head in the first few days of their new life: What if they don't understand my sense of humour? What if I don't like the food? What if my teachers don't teach the same way that I'm used to? Are the coaching styles different than back home?

"It's difficult adjusting to the lifestyle," stated Crosby. "After a while, though, you just get used to it."

It can be an emotional roller coaster ride, and coming home for breaks can be a huge relief. Yet, due to rising travel prices, there are a lot of international students who don't get to go home for a break from their new hectic lifestyles but rather have to stay in their city and wonder what their family is doing across the pond.

"Homesickness is something you're obviously going to have to face," said Crosby, "but, the longer you spend here, it just turns into your home away from home."

Years ago, it would have been much more difficult for international students to travel to the U.S. and pursue a dream, but these days colleges are establishing excellent programs to ensure that they can achieve their dream much more smoothly.

Photo by Pam Black

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