Monday, June 27, 2011

BreAnna Brewster: Oviedo, Spain

My name is BreAnna Brewster and I am a sophomore attending college at the University of Utah. I am working to earn a degree in biomedical engineering. Right now I am experiencing the once in a life time opportunity of studying Spanish in Oviedo, Spain and it has been such a ride. I arrived in Spain with only one semester of Spanish. The first couple of days I understood almost nothing that went on around me. But since then my Spanish has grown in leaps and bounds.
My favorite thing about Spain is the soccer. I have been playing soccer since I was four and while I am not as good as I should be for playing that long I still absolutely love playing the game and so do the people here.  When I think of popular American sports I think baseball, basketball and football and while those are everywhere in the Utah people do not play them in the streets as much as the Spanish play soccer here. My first week in Oviedo I saw people playing soccer everywhere; in the streets, in the plazas, on concrete soccer courts and in the parks. There are even signs here specifically banning soccer from places that it is dangerous to play it.
Naturally I immediately wanted to join in on the fun and so I went and bought myself a cheap ball to play with.  The money I spent on that ball is some of the best money I have spent here in Spain. The first day I went out with it I was immediately invited to play soccer with a group of guys. The day after the same thing happened with a different group and the day after. With a cheap 3.50 euro ball that lasted for one week, I was able to make friends with many of the local soccer players. It has been such a blast to get to know them and play with them.
Every night at 6:30 at the park, next to the University of Oviedo´s language campus, people gather to play and watch soccer games.  The games are often five versus five with goalies and are played on small concrete fields which makes the game play flow more like indoor than outdoor soccer game. Every 10 minutes or two goals the losing team switches out and a new team jumps in. In order to play you must get on a team of five people and get into the rotation. So getting there early and knowing people are imperative.  
What I love about it is that without referees, without having to be there, without paying to play, without the recreation division of the school planning out games, these people get together and have serious games, they actually play soccer.  I also love that people my age (19) or younger all the way up to dads, with families, that get in on the game.  Something that has been interesting to me though is the lack of girls. When I asked my Professor in Oviedo why this was she told me that soccer is still by many in Spain still considered a sport for men.  Once I learned this it has become even more fun to play with all the guys and to show them that girls really can play soccer.
It was such a fun experience to joke around with the other guys and play for a good four hours straight. Many of the people here are way friendly and being the only girl playing has made it easy for the soccer players to remember me.  I love seeing them and saying hi to all guys on the streets where ever I go. One day one when I was walking home from school of the spectators even ran out of her store to ask me if I was playing soccer that night.
Not only do they love playing the game, they love watching it. The biggest teams here in Spain are Barcelona and Madrid. They have a huge rivalry which reminds me of the University of Utah and BYU rivalry except it is throughout an entire country not just two colleges.  Right now Barcelona considers themselves the best soccer team in the world since they just won the European cup against Manchester a couple of weeks ago. The night of the match the game played in almost every bar in Oviedo and people of all ages came together to cheer on their team. To my surprise the people even let off fireworks in the street when Barcelona scored.  My favorite part of the game though was watching this little old man that was at the front of the bar watching the game. He was so into it, he talked to himself and us about the plays jumped at close shots and cheered with the goals. Spain has brought soccer to a whole new level for me. I came to Spain loving soccer and I will leave loving it and the Spanish people even more.
The city of Oviedo
Me in front of the soccer court in Oviedo
Picture of the whole court

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