By: Janelle Commerford
While studying abroad in Rome I have observed that there are three things that all Italians are extremely passionate about: food, family, and soccer. Like the Italians, I am passionate about family, even more passionate about food, but not so keen on the latter. So when soccer sign ups were announced, I gave it as much thought as I do to getting gelato on the way home. Of course, I'm getting gelato on the way home. And, no, I'm not joining the soccer team.
I hadn't played soccer since third grade nor have I played any contact sport at all throughout high school or in college. My athletic abilities consist of cheerleading and dance. It wasn't until I was having an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink) in a café and an AS Roma match was on the TV that I realized what an extremely soccer passionate city Rome is. The Romans were yelling and clapping and cheering louder than Americans at a Buffalo Wild Wings for the Super Bowl. So, I thought to myself, "Do as the Romans do" and "When in Rome…"
Then I also considered all the pizza, pasta, and gelato I eat and how fun joining the soccer team could potentially be. I was easily convinced by the team captain who assured me that the “warm up” was only two laps around the field. (Whew!)
Joining the soccer team has been a blast. In addition to being a fun way to work off that ‘mere” bit of pasta I consume, being on the team has provided countless laughs, new friends, and a unique and extremely different experience. I haven’t played soccer in over 10 years and my coach doesn’t speak any English, so I have also been improving my Italian.
Being part of the soccer team also totally pushed me out of my comfort zone, and being out of my comfort zone is where I find myself more and more during my time here. I have been finding that my leaving my comfort zone coincides with making the most of my time abroad. Doing new things, making new friends, continuously keeping an open mind, and saying "yes" has made all the difference during my study abroad experience.
Playing soccer for the past three months has been a life changing experience. Although we pretty much lost almost all of the games we've played, the incredible friends and experiences that I have gained far outweighs our team record.