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Education Abroad Office

  • Nick Smillie (bottom row, third from right) with teammates in Australia

USC Student’s Teammates Abroad Fly Him Back for Championship Game

Nicholas Smillie, a Senior Environmental Science major and member of the USC Men’s Club Soccer Team, studied abroad on a Global Exchange at the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, Australia during the Spring of 2016 semester. As someone who enjoys playing soccer, Nicholas knew he was interested in joining a “football” team abroad. He sought out a local Men’s league, attended try outs, and made the team. The Dudley-Redhead Football Club soon served as a platform for life-long friendships.

Towards the end of his semester at the University of Newcastle, Nicholas began to realize that he was going to miss the last few games of the season due to his scheduled return to the United States. Disappointed that he was going to miss the remainder of the season, Nicholas returned home in July. Not too long after returning home, his teammates called him over video chat to tell him they had beat their archrival in the semifinals and that they had the idea of flying him back for the Newcastle Permanent Grand Final.  “The next morning, I checked my phone and there was $1,500 raised in a GoFundMe account,” said Smillie. One of his teammates had started a GoFundMe account overnight and in less than 24 hours had raised enough money to fly Nicholas back to Australia. “I was absolutely blown away. At first I didn’t think I would accept the money because I didn’t want to take that much money from my friends. After talking to the boys and my parents, however, I knew that they wouldn’t have started the GoFundMe if they hadn’t wanted me to actually go.”

Nicholas was able to fly back for the championship game in September thanks to his teammates’ fundraising efforts. The game went into overtime and the Dudley-Redhead Football Club won 5-4 in penalty kicks. “Every single player and coach on that team has left an impact on my life that will never go away…I learned that it’s not where you go, it’s who you meet,” said Smillie.

Nicholas now has advice for other USC students considering studying abroad. “Do it. This is one of the only, if not the only, chance that you will ever get in your life to travel internationally as easily as study abroad allows you. It expands your horizons and diversifies your look on life while also teaching lessons that could never be taught in a classroom. Don’t be afraid about the school that you’ll miss or the friends you leave behind, it will all be there when you get back and being away helps you appreciate that even more than you do now.”

For more information about study abroad opportunities, please visit our website or visit the Education Abroad Office in Close-Hipp 453.


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