Futbol: a lot like studying abroad

December 28, 2018
Futbol league in Barcelona Spain

Today’s blog post comes to us from API Alumni and John Jay College graduate Miranda Tharp! She studied abroad with us in Barcelona. Today she’s comparing her study abroad experience… to playing futbol in a city that is KNOWN for its futbol!

API study abroad student Miranda Tharp in Barcelona

“Your heart is racing, adrenaline running through your body, and then your cleat touches the field. There’s a multitude of emotions you are feeling, but the time has come to begin the game.

My cleat touching the Spanish soil led to having the same rush, as I took a header into another country. Before a game, we must prepare and it is the same when you spend time abroad. You have information sessions and start planning for the upcoming experience. But when the game starts and challenges come to the surface, your preparation comes back to you. After the game, you then have more skills to take into the next game and you are a stronger player than before.

Left. Right. Goal.

Futbol league in Barcelona Spain

It was the last game of the league and I had yet to score a goal. My teammate made a stop and we were running down, when I received a pass and made a goal. Just like in this breathless game, I had to be agile and flexible with all the situations that I was apart of during my time in Barcelona.

There are many new aspects about the culture in Spain and going to the different activities that API provided was really helpful. You can score if you’re flexible and you can try something that you have never tried before. Attend the different workshops, join a league, or go on the different excursions. I had to be agile by quickly accepting the amazing aspects of the beautiful culture to continue learning.


The first time I did a header, I thought it actually hurt. Over time, I progressed to where there was no pain. This is also how I felt while staying with a host family. While abroad, I choose to stay with a host family to jump right into the culture. I stayed with a woman in her seventies, but don’t let her age fool you because she was active and warming. At first I was nervous because she only spoke Spanish and at the time I knew only ‘un pocito’ amount of Spanish. It was hard to communicate. But after learning and creating a relationship, I would absolutely stay with another host family. I was able to learn so much about the culture by actually living with a Spaniard.

Study abroad students overlook ocean in Barcelona Spain

Embrace the Fun and Play The Game.

I won two things while I was in Barcelona: my teammates and I won the API ‘futbol’ league and my experience there was another win. Barcelona was incredible and I loved the opportunity to make true friendships. I was able to discover a new city and beautiful culture by doing so many things, like going to Carmel Bunker for the sunset, swimming in the sea, and eating tapas with the locals.

With all this being said, I should tell you that I have never played in a ‘fútbol’ league until going to Barcelona.  The sport is an important part of their culture, which is why I wanted to have the experience of playing in a country where it is so well known.

I’m thankful that the API staff in Barcelona arranged the league for all of us to enjoy.

Even if I did not play, my teammates made great effort to make me feel important to the team and always cheered me on. ‘Fútbol’ is about being agile and flexible in situations, navigating new challenges that come your way, and embracing the fun of the game.



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