Date of Graduation

Fall 12-18-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

George Gmelch


One reason that attracts international student-athletes to American universities could be the interest in earning high quality education with the possibility of playing high performance sports. However, when compared to other international students, differences are seen: Other foreign students who look for a degree in the US desire not only an international education, but also potentially staying in the country. The University of San Francisco, where a cosmopolitan city meets education, fits it best. At USF, 82 countries are represented, reaching a number of 1708 students. Approximately ¼ of the whole student population is international. The ratio with student-athletes is not different, from which 49 of them are foreigners, coming from 20 countries, representing almost a third of the whole athletics department. This study analyzes how sports contribute within their adjustment in comparison with general students, and how sports ease this process, after arriving from their home countries. Aspects such as food, weather, language barriers, campus life and academic challenges have been observed to make that comparison. Also, we will understand if living in San Francisco, a city compromised with diversity and non-discrimination, makes a positive difference within the acclimatization to life abroad. With that said, it will be possible to analyze major advantages of international student-athletes over non-athletes. Being welcomed by the athletic community (teammates, coaches and athletes from other sports) creates a feeling of belonging. This environment, however, has disadvantages. For instance, athletes are isolated from the rest of campus activities, missing a connection between the athletics department and the rest of the school. Because of their busy routines, they have no time to get involved with other activities on campus. For that, at the end of this study it is recommended the creation of an office within the athletics department that would work to include athletes (Americans and foreigners) in other campus activities, such as University Ministry, for example.