Lewis & Clark College offers opportunities for all students, including student-athletes, to study overseas and off-campus.
"Lewis & Clark really prides itself in the overseas study programs here," said senior Nick Lockwood, an infielder on the baseball team. "This is really made evident when you get on the ground in the countries offered and see the relationships with the hosts that have already been made."
The Overseas and Off-Campus Programs office currently boasts programs to a wide variety of countries - including China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France, Greece, India, Morocco and many more - with over 70 percent of our programs located outside Western Europe. More information is available via the department's website, which states "for the fourth time in five years, according to U.S News & World Report, peer colleges and universities have identified our Overseas and Off-Campus Programs as among the best in the nation."
Overall, more than 60 percent of Lewis & Clark students end up studying abroad.
The overseas study experience fits the NCAA Division III philosophy, which makes academics the primary focus. Division III student-athletes are able to take more time out of their athletics calendar to focus on other interests.
Akira Abderrahman, a senior baseball student-athlete, and Lockwood both studied overseas in Tanzania as juniors during the Fall 2015 semester. They had a variety of experiences, including a four-week safari in the Tanzanian wilderness and week-long homestays with Maasai villagers that barely spoke English.
"There are only three colleges in the United States that do this exact same immersive experience in Tanzania with the amazing company we do it with," said Abderrahman. "The trip was truly a privilege to be a part of."
Although winter or year-long athletes have a harder time studying abroad for a semester, it is also possible to study abroad in the summer. Drew Groshong, a senior on the men's golf team, studied in Australia the summer after his sophomore year.
"I did a summer program so I didn't miss any classes or sports," said Groshong. "It wasn't why I chose the program, that was for the pre-med/socialized medicine aspect, but it was a nice bonus. There was a month after the program where I was able to practice and get ready before the season started in the fall, so I felt like I was able to prepare."
At times, student-athletes struggle with knowing that they are missing out on practices and friendships at home, but find that it's worth it in the end to have the opportunity to travel and experience new things.
"It was hard knowing I was missing out on all the fun baseball traditions we do in the fall with the new and returning players," said Abderrahman. "Still, I played better because studying overseas gave my body a chance and the time to fully heal up."
For senior soccer student-athlete Izzy Fikso, studying overseas also came with the opportunity to play the sport she loved with locals, giving her preseason experience.
"While I was in Spain, I played soccer with a local club team," said Fikso. "Most times, the coach would have me play right winger as opposed to center back. At the time, I didn't know that I would spend some of the 2016 season in the midfield so, as it turned out, playing winger in Spain prepped me well."
For Fikso, a Foreign Languages and Literatures major with an emphasis on Spanish and French, her experience in Alicante, Spain in Lewis & Clark's immersion program not only helped her to be more confident in her Spanish skills, but also have her a wider perspective on the world.
"I remember flying from Barcelona to Budapest for less than 100 euros. It was great!" she said. "I loved how accessible travel was. Each country in Europe has their own unique personality. Every time I went to a new country there was something new to experience.
"In addition to strengthening my Spanish speaking skills, going overseas gave me the confidence to travel and the drive to explore. That's all I want to do now."
When asked if they would recommend their experience to another student, not one Pioneers student-athlete failed to be enthused.