Well, it's been a week or so since I've returned from Europe! The day after I got back, I woke up at about 5 a.m., but I've almost recovered from jet lag at this point. I think. (Which is a good thing with the first day of classes being yesterday!)
During January, our class traveled throughout Europe studying soccer and coaching methods. I still wouldn't consider myself a soccer connoisseur or anything, but I learned so much!
Heading into the trip, I was quite excited! I was also a bit nervous/apprehensive about how the experience would be, though. I had a feeling I'd be one of the few non-sporty people in the class, so I questioned whether the little athletic ability I have would be good enough. I wondered a lot about how the other students would be. Would we get along, or would they stick to hanging out in their own "group" during the course of the trip?
Fast forward to last month! I can honestly say that any nervousness/apprehensions that I had melted away within a few days into the trip.
Everybody was so nice! Most of the other students were on the soccer team, and I didn't even know most of them beforehand. I definitely felt like I was "part of the team" throughout the month, though! That was a great feeling, that I haven't had for awhile...probably since high school marching band.
We actually played soccer twice on the trip, and it was quite enjoyable. And I don't think I made too much of a fool of myself! ;) The first time was at St. George's Park in England, where the British F.A. trains. The second time was later in the trip at the KNVB Campus in the Netherlands, where the Dutch F.A. trains.
The chance to pretend to be a college soccer player for a little bit was a lot of fun, too—haha! ;) It was also awesome to have the opportunity to see everybody "in their element," so to say. A few of them even thought I did well during our training! That was somewhat surprising to hear, but much appreciated. :)
We visited many stadiums, went to many professional soccer matches, and experienced many other amazing sites throughout the month. One of my personal highlights of the trip was getting to see Kensington Palace in London! Brussels was a cool place, also.
I came away with so much more from the class than I could've ever imagined, though. I definitely learned a lot about soccer in general. I definitely got to see and experience many well-known things in the world of European soccer. I definitely stepped outside of my comfort zone! (And it paid off in leaps and bounds!)
That all being said though, I got to know 20 other people (plus Thomas and Russ) so much better. I got to meet many people that I know I would've never come across otherwise. I got to learn about a sport that brings many people in the world—and on the Luther campus, together. I got to see how patient and welcoming people on Luther's soccer teams are, towards someone that has only ever really played golf competitively.
Most importantly, I had FUN. It was so much more fun than I could've ever imagined. I made so many memories with people I would now consider great friends. To everybody that I had the pleasure of traveling with in January, thank you for a fantastic experience. I can't wait to go across the pond again in September, to begin my year in Nottingham.
P.S. If you're interested in soccer at Luther, check out these links for more information!