Name: Maggie Cress
Hometown: Gunnison, CO
Varsity sport(s) participate in: Women’s Cross Country, Indoor/Outdoor Track and Field
Study abroad semester and location: Chiapas, Tlaxcala and Districto Federal, Mexico
What were the three most important things you packed in your suitcase and why?
Fleece jacket, my journal, and sunscreen.
Fleece: Believe it or not, southern Mexico is very cold at night and also gets pretty chilly in the morning. When I was living in Chiapas, I would wear my fleece and a hat around for about half of the day.
Sunscreen: That said, we did a lot of our classes outside and we were living at high elevation so I would be freezing cold and still end up with a sunburn!
Journal: Study abroad flies by so fast that I wanted to soak it all up. Bringing my journal and using it regularly has helped me reflect on what I am learning and hopefully will help me remember things later. Also, in my program I was living with 12 people for six weeks and it was really hard to get alone time. When I was journaling, I felt like I had some personal space even when there were other people in the room.
What did you miss most from home/Beloit and how did you deal with it?
I really missed being with my team when they were at the track and field Midwest Conference Indoor Championships. It was really hard to not be there to support them, but I kept updated via Facebook and I tried to keep in mind that I will be there with them at the next indoor conference meet. What I have been learning here is amazing so knowing that I was missing it for a worth-while reason was comforting.
What was your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?
Study abroad has been an amazing challenge from me so there are a lot of things I am proud of. But a recent moment was last week when I lead a group of my friends to El Museo Nacional de Anthropología last week. Being from a small town, I have almost no experience using subway systems but I got us from one side of the city to the other with no problems, all in Spanish!
How were you able to stay in shape or stay prepared for your sport while you were gone?
I have been running every chance I get but that isn’t always feasible so I jump rope a lot. My favorite thing to do when I can’t go on a run is to jump rope while I watch the Beyonce visual album on my laptop. I can do that for like an hour and a half. It feels like my own dance party!
Has the time you spent abroad changed the way you think about your athletic experience or your sport in general?
Being abroad and taking a break from competing has made me really, really excited to get back to competing in the fall. It also has confirmed for me how much I love running. Sometimes, when I get busy, running during practice can seem like a burden. Because I can’t run every day on my program, when I get to run, it feels like the most amazing treat!
Did being an athlete provide you with any advantages while you were abroad? If yes, what were they?
One of the biggest advantages of being an athlete in my program is knowing how to manage my time. In my program, we have classes but we also have a hundred other meetings and activities. A lot of the people on my program were really stressed by the crazy schedule, but I felt totally on top of it and relaxed.
Some words of advice for other athletes who want to study abroad:
Stay active for your sanity, but also, don’t stress about staying on your workout schedule. Sometimes, depending on your program, the schedule is a little out of your control. Exercising and running in particular is how I stay sane but when I couldn’t get my workouts in, sometimes I got a little crazy worrying about my workout plan. Talking to teammates, I realized that this is perfectly normal, but that the important thing is to be present and take in all I can where I am. I will be in racing shape in time for cross country and am happy that I relaxed so that I can enjoy where I am.