“Being a stranger to a school is difficult and being a part of an athletic organisation is a great way to get oriented with your new surroundings.”
Joining the UCC Rugby Team on my study abroad semester was a great decision. Even though I have a team at my home university, I still gained many things from joining the rugby team in Cork, things that go much further than the spread of the pitch.
The first obvious benefit of joining the team is being physically active at another school in a foreign nation. Being a stranger to a school is difficult, and being a part of an athletic organisation is a great way to get oriented with your new surroundings. UCC has three different divisions to match each level of competitiveness:
- The junior 3 division which I was personally a part of and resembled a club rugby team
- Junior 2 division which was the next step of competition above the 3s
- The under 21 division which was the highest level of competition.
Through my time with the junior 3 team I met players from each division. Everyone’s attitude exposed a high level of respect for the game and the players of the sport at each level. More importantly than that, I learned a new game. Rugby in the US is very different to the rugby played in Ireland, and it was interesting to be introduced to a different style of play.
Given that I played for the junior 3 division, the social aspect of the team was largely a part of the experience. All the teammates were very welcoming to anyone joining the team from any background. We had members from Germany, England, France and the United States. Some of which had no prior experience with the game. The Irish players took us in like we had been part of the club for just as long as they had. It was great to have such strong social interactions with a band of gentlemen from another country. I spent countless days and nights training, talking, studying, and partying with many of the guys on the team. My experience in Ireland would certainly have been less gratifying if I hadn’t joined the team.