While study abroad opportunities are highly sought out by many college prospects, it is not always feasible nor encouraged for student-athletes to study abroad given their commitment to academics on top of athletics, in and out of season. Study abroad offers students the ability to gain new perspectives about the world and themselves. One way that Muhlenberg and Muhlenberg athletics stands out, in this regard, is by fostering an environment in which student-athletes often do study abroad and an environment in which those experiences are seen as advantages to their commitments at home.
2022 All-America honorable mention and 2022 Centennial Conference first-team recipient on the Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team, Matthew Regan ‘24, was one student-athlete who took advantage of Muhlenberg’s study abroad opportunities—specifically at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. He expressed, “What I loved most about going abroad this semester was being able to travel all over Europe with my best friends. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and there’s no one else I’d rather do it with. We’re all preparing for this season by holding each other accountable and getting in the gym every day we can. The season is coming faster than we can imagine and being in shape is the best way to start the season in full stride.”
Among the many in the athletic community who studied abroad this fall semester, were 11 members of the Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team. Six of those 11 studied at Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy while the other five attended Maastricht. The two groups even made efforts to travel together, making their time abroad more memorable. Although these universities of choice were their general home bases, they found themselves exploring a multitude of countries. A few of these student-athletes have reflected on their experiences.
“My favorite place that I visited while studying abroad was Split, Croatia. I had the opportunity to visit Croatia with four of my teammates and it was truly an incredible experience. It was our first trip to another country alone and we immediately started exploring the city and made some really cool friends and memories during our time there. Getting to go to the beach and seeing the mountains on the horizon was incredible and a sight I will never forget. We still keep in contact with the people we met while in Croatia and look forward to hopefully seeing them again in the future” expressed faceoff specialist Jake Auerbach ‘24, one of five who studied abroad at Maastricht.
One of the six who studied at Florence, defender Aidan Murphy ‘24, reflects, “My favorite place we visited abroad was Dublin, Ireland. Dublin was cool because it provided a good mix of the history, which was actually interesting, and a fun city. It stood out from other cities because Irish culture was very prevalent. For example, at pubs and restaurants they have live Irish music, as opposed to usual American going out music. We did tours of Jameson and Guinness factories, which are part of the history, and were very enjoyable.”
Studying abroad may often encourage personal growth. It is easy to say that studying abroad with teammates may encourage collective growth as well. Although the groups were split up between Italy and the Netherlands, they were still able to come together on numerous occasions.
Attackman Ryan May ‘24 expressed, “We were able to meet up in Germany, Spain, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands.” May continues, “I think the experience of being abroad and gaining new perspectives all together has allowed us to build a lot more chemistry. I think this will translate positively into our season, on and off of the field.”
Extensive traveling requires many skills; however, the development of skills only comes with experience. Goalie Stephen Krug’ 24 expressed, “Studying abroad has allowed me to branch out and build a network of connections with both American and European students. Whether it be a conversation while waiting to get coffee or traveling together for a weekend, I have drastically expanded my network personally and professionally. I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit so many new countries. Along with that comes travel difficulty (planning, rescheduling, delays, cancellations, etc.). I have learned how to solve problems on the spot and keep my wits about me in the process.”
The development of these new skills and strengthening of old ones, even in the context of traveling, tends to seep into everyday activities. Jack Taub ‘24 builds off of this, connecting the dynamic of skill building to the game of lacrosse. “While studying abroad I have learned to adapt to my new and unfamiliar surroundings. On the lacrosse field you never know what to expect, and you have to adapt to each situation on the fly. I believe my experiences abroad adapting will directly translate and help me on the lacrosse field.”
Given his own experience in Florence this fall, defender Brandon Caslow ‘24 encourages other students and student-athletes alike to study abroad. “I would 100 percent recommend the study abroad experience for any students at Muhlenberg. It is a great opportunity to see the world, get outside your comfort zone, and meet new people. I was with all athletes from Muhlenberg and we were able to focus on staying in shape while still traveling and having a great time (and enjoying amazing Italian food).”
After a semester away, this tight knit group is ready to return home. With their regular season around the corner, Regan shares, “Personally, I have a very positive and motivated outlook for the upcoming season. After a devastating loss in the conference semifinals last year, I am more than excited to get back out there and grind with my teammates for the opportunity to win a Centennial Conference title.”