Beginning to play a new sport is hard. Learning a foreign language is even harder. Playing a new sport in a foreign language? IMPOSSIBLE. Or so I thought…
On the first week of studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, my roommate came home with a flyer advertising tryouts for the Fútbol Femenino team at our university. Knowing that she was a collegiate club soccer player while I myself hadn’t been on a soccer team since the fifth grade, I was hesitant to go with her. However, due to her prodding and my inner reasoning that at the very least I’d go one day then get cut from the team, I decided to give it a shot. To say I regretted this decision as soon as we walked in the gym is an understatement. Out of the team of approximately twenty girls, only a few fluently spoke English, and the coach gave instructions exclusively in Spanish. It was startling and a bit frightening, however, the hour of continuous confusion, running around, and passing the ball ended up being a surprising thrill.
We returned to the next few practices and went through the same daily routines of listening to our coach’s rapid instructions, trying to interpret what she wanted us to do, being shouted at for being wrong, and then trying again. This process was admittedly taxing at first, but within a couple weeks, the team had adopted us, “los internacionales,” as their own. The coach helped us register and gave us uniforms and we officially became part of the futboleras! Since then, we have had four games and are continuing to become more attuned to the process of it all.
Yes, it is still very difficult to know what is going on at all times and yes there are fleeting moments where I question what I got myself into, but deciding to jump into such a unique, challenging experience has been one of the best decisions I’ve made while abroad. I look forward to our practices and games every week and have already made incredible friendships with the girls on the team. My advice to any study abroad student would be to force yourself to take the plunge and challenge yourself in any way possible. Though it might be uncomfortable at first, you may just end up with a range of new friendships and a wealth of memories that’ll truly last a lifetime.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.