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A Wellness Journey That Crosses Country Lines

By: Remi Oswald ‘19, communications

Imagine. You are a college student, completely comfortable and familiar with your surroundings. Then one day, you decide to study abroad in hopes of experiencing something new. You are now having to adapt to a brand-new culture and teaching style in another country. Now add a language barrier.

Do you think you could adequately adapt?

Civil engineering and French study abroad student, JP Javelaud ’19, found his way through the community built around team sports.

Growing up in Reims, located in Northeastern France, Javelaud was no stranger to team sports. After trying his hand at soccer, he found a desire for more of a community feel, “I used to play club soccer, but even though it is a team sport, it felt more individual. Some of my friends played rugby and they asked me to try. I enjoyed it a lot, because it felt like more of a team sport,” said Javelaud.
Falling in love with the sport, he then continued to play while enrolled at the University HEI Lille.

I enjoy how it is a contact sport. It is a stress reliever and makes me feel good.

JP Javelaud ’19

After researching all potential opportunities offered to play rugby at NC State, he discovered the men’s club rugby team. Determined to join the team, he reached out to the coach.

Javelaud was invited to attend a couple of training sessions with the team, where he proved his worth and was recruited to the team.

The men’s club rugby team are no strangers to accepting international students.

Tom Kiernan ‘19, president of the club last semester, believes they are a significant contribution to the overall success of the team.

“The foreign lads who come into the team, whether it be for one semester or four years always have a big influence on and off the field. They bring their own rugby culture and we use that to build and develop our teams playing style. They have brought a lot of set piece tactics and flair over to our team which helped us be as successful as we have been over the last few years,” said Kiernan.

“Our coach, Brian Ketchem, is a key part of this. He puts a lot of effort into making the new guys feel comfortable and confident in their playing ability and that’s when we get the best out of everyone regardless of experience,” said Kiernan.

This past fall the club took home the 2018 Men’s Division II College Championship. International students Tom Kiernan ‘19, Jack Kiernan ‘19, Charlie Harrocks ‘19 Jack McGuinness ‘20, and Lorcan Casey ‘20 were all members of the championship team, ultimately allowing them to represent their respective home countries of Ireland and England.

“It’s been amazing to have had such a successful season, and being welcomed into the team at the start of my year abroad was just the introduction to NC State I needed. Winning the National Championship was more than the icing on the cake,” said Harrocks.  

Much like his teammate Harrocks, JP fell in love with the community and social opportunities the club has brought to his experience at NC State.

“What I like about rugby is the spirit of the team. Everyone is very close friends, so even after training, we stay together and hang out,” said Javelaud.

Javelaud talks about the many opportunities he has had to travel and attend events with the boys he has met through the team. “Playing rugby here has helped me to travel by making these friends,” said Javelaud.

Javelaud reflects on his ability to play rugby in America as one of his fondest study abroad memories, and achievements. He is eternally grateful for the opportunity and will forever treasure the friendships made.

“I would recommend rugby to other people because it can be good to be healthy and fit. In rugby, you have to run a lot, and it is physical through a lot of contact. But also, it can help to meet people and to socialize,” said Javelaud.