Chelsea Davis is a former member of the UGA Gymnastics team. She is currently obtaining her masters in strength and conditioning and was able to study abroad during the Summer of 2016.
During my time as a student-athlete I always saw the study abroad tables at the MLC, knew students who went and wanted to go myself, but I immediately counted myself out due to training and classes that had to be crammed in. I was very excited to hear about a first time opportunity for my master’s degree to go to Scotland! Now that I am a fifth year and no longer have the demands of my sport I was able to look at it more seriously. Cost was still a huge issue for me to consider when deciding if I could go, but luckily in talking with Heather Labarbera, Leigh Futch, and Glada Horvat, I was able to work out how much athletics could help me out and how much I would need to pay. Athletics paid for my tuition and room and board through my scholarship, and in addition I was awarded the study abroad stipend, which helped a ton.
I decided I could not pass up this opportunity again and planned my three week study abroad to Scotland. I am a strength and conditioning major and was promised time to work with professional athletes, study at the University of Glasgow, and ride the Harry Potter Jacobite train. I was hooked from the pictures, but it turned out to be so much better and more fulfilling in person!
Our first week was filled with seminars and lectures from professionals in our field who work with professional athletes in Scotland. We heard from a sports psychologist, a strength and conditioning coach, a physical therapist and an exercise physiologist. Hearing how they operate and train athletes over there was an eye opening and amazing experience! It provided a more holistic feel to my masters program and I am so excited to take this knowledge into my last semester at UGA, and further in my professional career.
Additionally, we were able to work with professional soccer players in both the lab and on the field. We visited sports that aren’t seen much in the USA such as field hockey, curling, and track cycling. The vellodrome is so steep! We even got to observe a strength and conditioning session with a paralympian who is days away from going to Rio! It was awesome to think outside the box and work with them to come up with suggestions for her and their other para athletes.
It wasn’t all work though, of course. We were able to fit in so many cultural experiences over our three weeks. Each day, after class or interning, we were able to explore Glasgow on our own. There were restaurants, botanical gardens, parks, and art museums galore and it was never hard to find something to do. Our accommodations were tight, with four girls in a small dorm room, but we formed bonds that will last forever! I was able to get closer with people from my program, as well as make friends with some people from other schools that accompanied us!
Don’t worry, we didn’t leave the rest of Scotland unexplored. The first weekend we took a train ride up to the highlands and Fort William. It is breathtaking scenery that can’t be explained in words, or even the pictures I took. We took a boat to see the wild seals, walked around the quaint mountain town and tried the local fare. The highlight had to be the castle hotel we stayed in that overlooked Loch Lommond (it was a welcomed break from the hostel living situation).
Next, we visited the Stirling Castle, the William Wallace Monument, and the sportscotland institute. I had to watch Braveheart as soon as I got home to fully appreciate what I had seen. We visited Edinburgh as well, and spent a full day as tourists. We visited the Edinburgh castle, saw where the Queen of England calls home in Scotland, and of course shopped. We shopped for cashmere, Scottish teas, and shortbread, and then finished the day with a dinner at Deacon and Brody’s.
I couldn’t possibly list every experience or how fulfilling it was in this blog, but thanks to the Athletic Association I was able to have the experience of a lifetime in Scotland. It was both culturally and professionally beneficial as I enter my last semester at UGA. I will graduate with my masters in December and then hope to enter physical therapy school, then the working world shortly after. The experiences and relationships will stay with me for a lifetime and I am so grateful to the Athletic Association for the amazing experience!