Soccer in Barcelona, Spain

Guest Post By: Maya Flynn, a Senior studying Business Administration. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through ALBA Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, during Autumn Quarter 2023.

A week prior to my departure for Barcelona, Spain – the city that would become my home for the next three months during my UW study abroad program – my phone buzzed with an exciting message. During my pre-travel research, I had stumbled upon a soccer club located just a 5-minute walk from my apartment. Feeling adventurous, I reached out to the team, never expecting the warm welcome I received. They promptly shared their practice schedule and invited me to join them on the very day of my arrival.

A week later, I touched down in Barcelona, dropped my bags at my apartment, grabbed my cleats, and made my way to the field. Walking towards the field, it hit me for the first time – the nerves of entering a session with people I didn’t know, conversing in a language foreign to me. However, I didn’t have time to dwell on these thoughts as I entered the park and scanned for the team. The moment I introduced myself, I was embraced by the girls, excited to welcome a new player. They eagerly inquired about my travels and plans for Barcelona, instantly making me feel part of their circle.

I was lucky enough to spend my quarter abroad playing with the team, and I forged deep connections with my Catalan teammates. Having local friends provided me with a unique lens through which to explore and understand the culture. I discovered countless niche cultural nuances that I would have otherwise overlooked. The girls not only welcomed me but also went out of their way to include me, translating conversations and explaining unfamiliar customs. Despite cultural disparities and occasional language barriers, my friendships in Barcelona were vibrant and offered new dimensions that I couldn’t have experienced with fellow Americans from my university.

As I reflect on my study abroad journey, I am filled with gratitude for the enriching experiences and friendships that unfolded on that soccer field in Barcelona. These connections have added depth and warmth to my time in this unfamiliar place, making it a chapter of my life that I will always hold close to my heart.