Indiana University Overseas Study

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Celebrating 21 in a Country That Doesn’t Care About 21

Marie Kalas - Valparaiso

At some point in September, a woman from our program asked if I was going to be at the fútbol [soccer] tournament during some weekend in October. I immediately said “absolutely,” and didn’t realize until I was home the day of 15 hours of fútbol would be on my 21st birthday.

Of course I had my hesitations about waking up at 6:45 AM to drive two hours to a professional-sized cancha [field] to play four games of fútbol and return that night around 8 PM. Adding the fact that a huge carrete [party] would be going on when we got home that we’d have to rush to did not add to the excitement of a day many people countdown to in the US.

However, this may have been one of my favorite birthdays yet.

We arrived to San Felipe, Chile to the house of our coach, Jefe Kelly [Boss Kelly], where her little sister let me hold a baby bunny for half an hour as they surprised me by singing happy birthday with a giant piece of cake. A giant piece of cake while holding a bunny. It was a dream.

dirt soccer field

After arriving at the cancha (that was straight out a movie situated between hills and the Andes mountains next to a herd of cows), we played an exhausting game of fútbol, took a ridiculous amount of pictures, and walked to an asado [barbeque] that was being set up for us. Being surprised with another huge cake and getting my face shoved in it as thirty of my newest Chilean friends sang Feliz Cumpleaños [Happy Birthday], was one of the coolest things of my life.

Marie with cake on her face

As soon as we arrived back to our home, it was a race against the clock to shower, get ready, and walk over to celebrate three birthdays: mine on that day, my friend’s host sister’s the next day, and my friend’s two days later. With my tomato sun-burnt face, we arrived to hugs and kisses from every one of our friends and about 100 new ones I had never met, but who were just as kind as the friends I had known for months. Feliz cumple, Marie! Que linda! [Happy birthday, Marie! How cute!] was what I heard for the first thirty minutes of the party as everyone gave me two hugs and kissed my cheek at least four times. When the clock struck twelve and my birthday ended as Fiorella’s started, and the third cake of the day was brought out.

One might imagine a cake to celebrate three birthday’s might be rather large. This cake was so large that I thought Taylor’s host mom was going to fall over from holding it. Marvelous. We sang once in Spanish, once in English, and then more friends showed up maybe five minutes later. So we did it again. One more blowing out of the candles and two more songs.

host mom bringing out cake

Although I didn’t get the typical “first legal drink” pic, or people buying your drinks at the bars, I got three cakes, four Feliz Cumpleaños songs, two Happy Birthday songs, countless hugs and even more kisses, and I got to spend my birthday with people I didn’t know and people I did.

Since I chose to go abroad in the fall, I’ve been nervous about spending my birthday here because I knew I wouldn’t have any of my family to see or any of my life-long friends to dance with. But instead, I got to make probably 1,000 new friends who were all genuinely thrilled it was my birthday. I love them, and I’m coming back every year to get sun-poisoning from 15 hours of fútbol and three cakes in a day.

soccer team

Marie Kalas - immersing herself in Chilean language and community

Los Toros

Debora Estrada Lobo

The corridas de toros has been cultural tradition in Spain for many ages. Although it was the romans who started this tradition during their Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula, it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that the modern corrida de toros was established. Since then, this tradition has become one of many emblems of Spain and its culture. Although this tradition remains, there currently great debate about its continuity as many Spaniards and animal lovers consider this tradition a cruel abuse towards the toros.

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Last weekend I attended my first corrida de toros with a group of friends. I was personally not very affected by what I saw, as I had a good understanding on what to expect. However, many of my friends were repulsed by the spectacle. I think there are two ways we can think about the tradition. We can see it as a cruel abuse towards the bulls or an art and
cultural tradition.151007d

This current dispute has caught my attention and so I have researched both sides. Yes, there is no doubt that the bulls are being hurt with the final goal of having them killed. Yes, people are watching a spectacle and will most likely watch a bull die at the hands of a torero. The antitaurinos claim the tradition to be destructive, cruel and torturous towards animals. If we were to see the corridas de toros in just this way, everyone would probably be against such a show. However, the people who want the tradition to continue also have good points.

According to my research, toros bravos are some of the only animals that are well treated, and roam freely, throughout their life outside of the arena. Like many other animal meats, the meat of the toros killed at the corridas are also eaten. Not only is the meat used but their skins are also used to produce leather goods. Aside from the goods that may come from the bull, the animal is one of few that can fight for its life and “die with dignity.” With this information we can also see the other side of the dispute.151007b

I personally think that the art that some claim the corridas to have comes from the toreros. On average, toreros start training from a very young age and have to not only be physically and mentally prepared but also have to perform with a certain aesthetic manner and technique. This is what I think make the fight interesting to watch. Throughout the last portion of the fight the matador and the bull are in close proximity of each other; at some points, the matador can even have an arm around the bull as it circles the matador.

If there was not the possibility of death to either party, I think anyone could see a certain beauty in the movement of both parties. As this is not the case, the corridas de toros are certainly not for the faint hearted as in the end, either the toro or torero will die.

Debora Estrada Lobo - exploring contemporary Spain

Barca Barca Barca

Katie Bosler

Those who live outside of Spain tend to think the word Barca (pronounced barce-uh) is an abbreviation for the second largest city in Spain, Barcelona. For those of us studying here, it became clear very quickly that Barca was not a nickname for the city, but for its world-class fútbol (European soccer) club, FC Barcelona.

If you ask the fans here, following FC Barcelona is similar to practicing a religion. Locals who do not support them are basically shunned-it’s that serious. These Spaniards eat, sleep, and breathe fútbol. On match day you will find 99,000 rabid fans watching the game live at the incredible Camp Nou stadium. The arena is the largest in Europe. Those unable to secure a ticket view the game at a bar with friends or watching at home glued to the TV with family.

Camp Nou

The biggest fútbol stadium in Europe, Camp Nou

FC Barcelona’s motto is “mes que un club” (more than just a club.) It represents something bigger than athletics – it represents Catalan independence. Barcelona is one of the four coastal regions that make up Catalunya, the Catalan nation that has struggled to find independence from the rest of Spain for years. From the 1920’s under Miguel Primo de Rivera’s rule to the severe fascist ruling of dictator Franco, the Catalan culture and specifically its team, Barca, have been severally oppressed.

After Spain’s switch to democracy, Barca has grown to represent not only Catalan independence, but important life values ​​as well. These five key values include ​​Respect, Effort, Teamwork, Humility, and Ambition. Barca and its fans take pride in the fact that the way they play fútbol is not only inspiring the world in the athletic sense but morally as well.

Barca can credit its amazing history of feats on the field to its long list of world-class players. The current stars are Lionel Messi, Louis Suarez, Neymar Jr. and Gerard Pique, to name a few. Messi, 34, has been charted as the best player in the world for quite some time. To Barca fans, Messi is a god, and he is the key component of the on and off field success of Barca’s current team.

Lionel Messi

Barca’s superstar forward, Lionel Messi

Venturing into Camp Nou for the first time was a life changing experience. I thought I was prepared for the intense atmosphere and the insane fans, but the game and the venue itself had no comparison to American football or basketball on any level. I got to my seat an hour before kickoff, and the cheering and drums heard from all sections of the stadium had already started- they would not stop until the last second ticked off of the scoreboard.

 

Rowdy crowd

The rowdiest cheering section, right behind Barca’s goal

After attending a Barca match, it’s a bit funny to think about how sports fans in the US refer to themselves as dedicated or obsessed. Merely spending a week in Europe would be enough to realize that our fan followings are far too limited to compete with the addiction that fútbol is here. If we want to consider ourselves avid fans, we need to take some advice from the fans of FC Barcelona.

My roommate and I at the game

My roommate, Megan & I at the Barca vs. Levante game

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Real Madrid: An Experience 4 Years in the Making

Carla Sraders

Four years ago, when my sister was studying abroad in Spain, my family flew 4,000 miles across the Atlantic to visit her in Toledo. While I was very excited to see my sister, there were obviously a ton of other things I wanted to see, eat, watch, and experience during my trip. Above the Alcázar, Parc Güell, el Prado, and Sagrada Familia… I wanted to go to a Real Madrid game. Having played soccer almost all of my life, I’ve always enjoyed watching it. So when my dad and I found out there was a Real Madrid home game during our time in Spain, we immediately bought tickets.

After a delayed flight, lost luggage, and a lot of confusion getting to Madrid, we mixed up the days of the game. Sitting in our hotel room on Saturday night, we checked to make sure we were ready for the game we thought kicked off Sunday at 6 pm. Dumbfounded, we realized the game was actually happening at that moment. My dad, little brother, and I ran out of the hotel, on the metro, and onward towards Santiago Bernabéu. Getting into the stadium around the 90th minute, everyone was leaving as we finally arrived. Not only did we lose over 200 euros and the chance to see a game, but Real Madrid had lost the game 1-0 – their first lost at home during 2011.

Now, 4 years later, I’m studying abroad in a city less than 3 hours away from Madrid via AVE train. I knew I’d have to return to Santiago Bernabéu before I came back to the United States. I was finally going to see a Real Madrid game.

outside Santiago Bernabéu

Outside of Santiago Bernabéu on Valentine’s Day, 2015.

While I’ve been fortunate enough to attend NBA, MLB, and NFL games in my life, I’ve never had an experience quite like the game in Madrid. The entire 81,000 person stadium was electric. While my friends and I sat in the nosebleeds at the very top of the stadium, there wasn’t a single person around us that wasn’t completely invested in the game. Every free kick from Ronaldo, breakaway from Gareth Bale, and miraculous save from Casillias left the entire stadium breathless.

In Madrid for three days I was able to go back and see the museums, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and many other touristy things, but I don’t think many other experiences abroad will compare to the Real Madrid game. You’re not only sight-seeing or looking at the culture from afar, you’re actually part of it.

Here’s a video of my time spent in Madrid. (Pretty happy to say I caught Isco’s goal on camera!)

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Hala Madrid

KellyK

As my time in Spain comes to an end I find myself thinking about the things I love about this country more and more each day. One of the things that I have grown to love especially about Spain is its passion for soccer, or fútbol. Soccer is not an extremely popular sport in the United States, however it is the most popular sport in the rest of the world. When I first came to Spain four years I ago I fell in love with the sport as I watched the Spanish national team win the World Cup for the first time in history. This summer, Spain will be competing for the World Cup again. Although I came to Spain excited to see the national team play in another World Cup, I knew very little about the club teams that exist in cities such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. I of course knew of the famous players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, however did not understand just how important and influential these teams are in Spanish culture.

Real Madrid Celebration

The celebration in Madrid after Real Madrid’s 10th Champion’s League title

Having grown up in the Chicago area I know plenty about sport rivalries. I was born and raised a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan, therefore instinctively dislike the White Sox and Green Bay Packers. However, after having lived in Spain for the past ten months I have learned that these famous rivalries cannot even compare to the rivalry that exists between Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. The argument of which of the two largest Spanish cities is better is never-ending and the rivalry that exists between the two cities’ soccer clubs makes matters even worse. Unlike a normal sports rivalry the animosity between these two cities goes much deeper than just the soccer field. Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous state of Cataluña in Spain. Cataluña prides itself on its distinct culture and language that are different than that of Spain although it is part of the country. Strangely enough, over half of the population of Cataluña wishes to separate from Spain entirely and become their own independent country. In addition, during the Spanish Civil War Madrid and Barcelona represented the two different sides of the war. During the Spanish Civil War, which took place from 1936 to 1939, Madrid represented the Nationalists led by Spain’s dictator General Francisco Franco while Barcelona represented the Republicans or opposition. During the war Franco made the language spoken in Cataluña illegal, took away the area’s autonomous rights and bombed the city of Barcelona. To this day the soccer clubs of Barcelona and Madrid remember what happened during the time of the Civil War and both clubs still represent different political views.

However, the animosity that exists between Madrid and Barcelona is not the only great sports rivalry I have learned about this year. Madrid itself has two large soccer clubs, the infamous Real Madrid and the lesser known Atlético de Madrid. While Real Madrid is considered by many as the greatest soccer club in the world Atlético de Madrid, or Atlético, has long been regarded as worst of the two soccer clubs. However, this year Atlético made it all the way to the la Liga Championship, beating FC Barcelona in the final game to win the championship. But, Atlético’s successful season did not end there. Atlético made it to the final of the Champion’s League to play none other than Real Madrid in the championship game. This was the first time in history two teams from the same country had played against each other in the Champion’s League final, and they also just so happened to be two teams from the same city. Madrid went crazy when it found out that its two soccer clubs would go head to head for the most important championship in Europe. Real Madrid, went to the final game having already won the Champion’s League nine times, while Atlético hoped to win for the first time. The game represented more than just a cross-town rivalry. Real Madrid is often considered the “rich man’s” team that is still to this day associated with the Franco regime in Spain and has some of the best players in all of soccer. On the other hand Atlético represents the normal people of Madrid, or the “people’s team.” When all was said and done Real Madrid took the title with the score of four to one and won the Champion’s League for the 10th time in history. Even though Atlético did not win a new standard was set and Atlético put themselves on the map as one of the best soccer clubs in Europe. Despite the rivalry the entire city celebrated Real Madrid’s win and more importantly, Madrid’s win as a city.

I consider myself so lucky to have lived in what many consider to be the greatest soccer country in the entire world. This year I have learned that soccer is not just a sport in Spain. Soccer represents politics views, identity and above all national pride. Although strong rivalries exist between Spain’s greatest soccer clubs the best Spanish players from each team will play together this summer on one team in Brazil for the World Cup. While in the past the animosity that exists between these clubs divided the people of Spain the national teams’ success in the last World Cup united the county for what many consider to be the first time since the Civil War. Soccer is not just a sport in Spain, it is a national pride that has had the power to make a heavily diverse and divided country come together as one. Now, I can only hope that I can see this country that I love so much win the World Cup again this summer.

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Triumphs and Tribulations

KellyK

Studying abroad, just as anything in life, comes with its ups and downs. Having lived in Spain for seven months I consider myself lucky to have run into such few conflicts or difficulties. At the beginning of every study abroad experience students are briefed on all the possible setbacks that could happen while living in a different country. However, no matter how many times we are told to watch out for pickpockets or told what to do in case of an emergency it is hard to believe that anything bad can or will happen to you while abroad.

soccer match

Friendly soccer match between Spain and Italy

One of the greatest fears of anyone traveling to Europe are the ever so infamous pickpockets. I cannot count the times I have been warned to watch my pockets while on the metro, never carry anything valuable into touristy areas or never take my eyes off my purse. While I definitely take precaution with my personal items while traveling I have never had an issue before and never believed that I would be pickpocketed. However, just a few weeks ago while taking a jam-packed metro to watch the Spanish national soccer team play Italy in a friendly match that is just what happened. The thought of possible pickpockets at such a crowded event definitely crossed my mind, however when my iPhone was taken right from my pocket I was in complete shock. To make matters worse I was then left with no way to take photographs of my favorite Spanish soccer stars during the game. While losing your phone has to be one of the greatest fears of any college-aged student, I can now say, after having gone a few weeks without a phone, that it is not nearly as bad as it seems. Sure, I am using a wind-up alarm clock from the 80s and communicating with friends and family via email, but I can honestly say that not having a phone has helped me not to waste my time abroad on Facebook or snapchat.

Las Fallas

One of many public sculptures created by local artists in celebration of Las Fallas.

Nearly a week after the mild crisis of losing my phone my friends and I went on a trip to Valencia Spain for a local festival called Las Fallas. Las Fallas is a festival unique to the city of Valencia that celebrates the beginning of spring, however it can best be described as a weeklong, nonstop, out of control party. Due to the popularity of Las Fallas many travel companies in Madrid offer low-priced bus rides to Valencia for the festival. However, these cheap rides come at a price. Buses left Madrid for Valencia at nine in the morning and did not return to Madrid until six a.m. In other words, I chose to go on a trip that entailed exploring a new city for nearly 21 hours straight with no sleep, all for the low price of twenty euros. The trip went well up until about 2 a.m. when pure exhaustion and confusion started to kick in. After losing our group my friend Clayton and I wandered the city in search of a place to wait and stay out of the cold until our bus’ departure at 6 a.m. Thinking we had plenty of time we started to look for a taxi around 5 a.m. to take us back to the meeting point. However, we soon came to realize that catching a taxi in Valencia is no small feat. Due to the lack of taxis in Valencia and innumerable amount of people in the city that night we soon realized that we would have to find an alternative route to the bus. At this point, pure panic started to set in. Now, nearly 5:50 in the morning with ten minutes to go before the bus left my friend called my nearly non-functioning Spanish cell phone to tell me that the bus would not be waiting on anyone and that I could try finding another bus the next day. With just ten euro in my pocket I then realized that I would be stranded in a foreign city with absolutely no way home. However, just at that moment, my friend was able to catch us a cab. I had never ran so fast in my life, but finally, exhausted, delirious and in tears I reached the bus that would take me home to Madrid.

The setbacks that present themselves while abroad, though tough and sometimes annoying, are a true test to the flexibility and ability to overcome difficulty that students who chose to study abroad possess. No one ever told us that studying abroad would be easy, and if they did I would not have been driven to do so. Studying abroad has taught me a number of things, and not just foreign language skills. The personal growth that I have experienced during my time in Spain is something that I believe to be unique to a study abroad experience. I am now fully confident that I can take on anything, anywhere.

View all posts by Kelly

History In the Making

AndrewG

The recent royal birth of Prince William and Kate’s first child has London buzzing. You could really feel the excitement surrounding the birth and pageantry that the royals are famous for providing. There is also a sense of relief now that the waiting is over. The news stations and media outlets surrounded St. Mary’s hospital for days providing unending coverage on the Duchess of Cambridge’s status. Tradition is everywhere when the royal family is involved, and history will not soon forget this birth.

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