American soccer abroad doesn’t really exist. First of all, it’s not called soccer; it’s football, or futbol, or calcio or any number of other terms, but never soccer. Your soccer training experience abroad will be very different than what you get in the states.
Choosing to send your child abroad to train can be one of the most stressful decisions you make. However, if you want authentic European style soccer coaching, you may have to do this. The normal worries of having your child so far from home are only magnified when they are on an entirely different continent.
Following is a list of some of the items you may want to ensure your child has with them. Some of these can be obtained abroad, but it may things easier to have these packed in advance.
American Soccer Abroad – What to take from home
Gum for airplane travel. Chewing it should help prevent their ears from popping.
Chargers for any devices your child is taking with them. This includes phone, computer, and camera. It is useful to also send a power bank, especially for a phone. Most airports have charging stations, but they are not guaranteed to be available. Additionally, the charging ports at your child’s seat may not be working. It’s better to be safe.
Voltage converters Electrical outlets in the United States are very different than those in Europe and the rest of the world. The US tends to use 110/120V. Most of the world depends on 220/240 V. This means, that the European outlets demand more voltage in order to run. Conversely, American devices can “burn out” if you try to use European outlets.
Bank Cards These are a great way to ensure you can get money to your child quickly. Most transactions to and from can be made electronically. This allows you to control how much money is available on the card at any given time. They can be used in foreign countries at the ATM, stores or local bank.
Remember to let your bank know that your child will be traveling in advance of your trip. Otherwise, they may consider the charge to be suspect. The bank may lock your child out of their account. Check with your bank to see if you will be charged a transaction fee for using the card abroad.
A small chain and lock. You can check with the program in advance to see what type of cabinets they have for the students to put their items. It is possible your student will wish to lock their items in a cabinet.
Toiletries & Essentials
Toiletries While they can be purchased abroad, it may be a couple days before your player is able to get to the store. Who wants to go that long without brushing their teeth? Shampoo, deodorant and soap are also useful. Hairbrush, comb, nail clippers, nail file… These items do not take up that much space and are useful to have.
Sanitary napkins or tampons for girls. Pamprin or other medication if needed for cramp relief.
Medical Supplies & Prescriptions
Prescription Medication ANY they may need. If they are asthmatic, see about having them take an extra inhaler. We had our son take a round of antibiotics so he had them with him. Also, make certain that if your child is on a prescription medication that you send his/her physician notes and a script along with him.
You will most likely have send a Doctor’s clearance with your child in order for them to play. Do not try and hide any medication or medical condition that your child may need. Not only are you placing your child in danger if you do this, but you are placing a huge potential liability on the program if you do so as well.
Be aware that some medications, even over the counter, are not available abroad. Pepto Bismol is not available in Spain. On his second trip, we sent him with tablets. We also sent cough and cold medicine, and a small first aid kit. The programs all have medical supplies, but… it made this Mom feel better to know he had his favorite brand of blister bandaids with him.
Other Items that are Useful if You Have Room
Bath towels The bath towels are small. They also may be thinner.
Different bags I would recommend a backpack as well as a drawstring bag or two. These are useful for day trips. I also sent ziplock baggies with my son.
Photos of home – family, pets… This may have been for me as much as him. I wanted him to have a few items from home to help keep them from feeling homesick.
Command Clips for hanging items. He used these to hang some clothing, robe, drawstring bag… Command clips were great. These can hold a few pounds. They peel off easily.
Fanny pack – they’ve actually come back in style and they are a great way for kids to carry some cash, ID and whatever other items they may need.
Check on other “luxury” items that your child enjoys as well. Gatorade is not available in Europe. The European Union has banned brominated vegetable oil. This is an ingredient in Gatorade. They do have alternative hydration drinks available.
Many of the brands of chocolate and other snacks are different. If your child is particularly addicted to something, you may want to send some along with them. We ended up sending 3-4 large containers of Peanut Butter with my son every time he returned to Europe. Most of the European peanut butters he found were organic. The peanut butter was organic and had oil pooling at the top. He also didn’t care for the flavor as much as plain old Jiff.
Chances are that you will forget to pack something. Fortunately, amazon delivers to over fifty European countries. You’ll just need to get on the correct site. Ie: amazon.it for Italy; amazon.es for Spain.
It can be difficult to let go, but remember what a gift you are giving your child. Their language skills will improve tremendously. Immersion is the best way to learn a foreign language. They will gain independence. They will learn so much about the world around them by having had the opportunity to live in another country.
In summary, although the term “American Soccer Abroad” may seem like a misnomer, your child will be gaining invaluable experience. They will most likely make lifelong friendships with the people they meet.