Studying abroad is a huge challenge for varsity collegiate athletes. I have many athlete friends who never studied abroad because they didn’t think they had the opportunity. I also have a few teammates who did study abroad but didn’t practice while overseas, losing the structured routine that comes with being on a varsity team. While in Barcelona, I was able to join a crew team, one of the best decisions I could have made. With a lot of independence, willpower, discipline, and an unrelenting dedication and love for rowing, studying abroad while training with a team is possible.
Do your research!
I had my heart set on Barcelona, and I had my heart set on rowing. I researched clubs and teams where I could train while abroad. After a long search, I found one. I contacted the club in Spanish and in English, got the information I needed and decided to study abroad in Barcelona. I then contacted CEA to see if they knew anything about the rowing club that I wanted to join. To ensure my safety, they took me under their wing and acted as a middle man for membership fees and monthly payments. After orientation, a CEA representative drove me to the rowing club. It was comforting to have CEA there with me for my first day to ease my nerves, but it only took a few minutes to feel at home when the coach asked me to join some of the girls for a workout. It was familiar and comfortable
|Reial Club Maritim in Barcelona|
Join the team; join the family
My study abroad experience was so unique, thanks to my decision to join the rowing club. The life of a dedicated and competitive rower is very similar, no matter where you are. Crew teams are close-knit communities and teammates spend almost every day together.The training schedule was much less structured and consistent than my teams in the United States. Sometimes individuals (including myself) would come into the gym at a different time than the others if their schedules didn’t match up. I definitely felt a lot more independent on this team, it requires extra self-discipline and motivation. We had practice at every evening which is different form my usual early-morning routine.
|Rowing is a universal language|
The Rowing lifestyle
In Barcelona, a typical night for me was arriving home late and eating dinner. As with any sport, sacrifices still have to be made, there were many nights that my friends went out but I decided to go to bed early.
|Early mornings and late nights!|
|Late dinners + independent workouts = a rewarding sense of accomplishment!|
The biggest challenge was being the only native English speaker (and the only American) on the team. The main group of people with whom I trained only spoke Catalan and Spanish, including the coach. While instructing the team as a whole, the coach spoke in Catalan and would pull me aside afterwards to translate it to Spanish. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t difficult.
I pushed through the language barrier and kept improving. My teammates began to recognize me as part of the team, a huge milestone! I got to know them better and talked more. They invited me to team events like barbecues and the annual banquet. I made life-long friends as part of the rowing team.
|The Annual Banquet|
I couldn’t have been luckier, how it worked. My experience studying abroad in Barcelona with CEA was 100% unique and fulfilling. I made some great friends in my classes, but spent more time with locals than I did with fellow students. Not only did I remain in shape, but I also had a much richer and more fulfilling study abroad experience because of my dedication to the sport!
Annie J. is a CEA alumni. She studied abroad in the Fall of 2015 in Barcelona, Spain and is currently a senior at Marietta College.
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