I am a football fanatic, and, like pretty much the entire world right now, I am obsessed with the Men’s FIFA 2022 World Cup! I’ve been playing soccer (sorry football!) since I was in 2nd grade. Every four years, I have managed to get locked into watching every match and highlights, following all the stages, and creating my own bracket. Recently, in digging through old papers, I found a printout of the World Cup bracket and matches from the 2010 tournament, when I was 8 years old. My dad had printed it out for my sister and I to follow along. In 2014, I spent the summer intently taking notes and creating a huge Powerpoint on all the highlights and strategies of the teams for my middle school Gifted and Talented summer project. In 2018, I remember watching the matches on my high school chromebook (sometimes during class oops!). Every four years, this tournament never ceases to grab my undivided attention.
Now, in 2022, I am in an entirely different country, with an entirely different atmosphere and people to enjoy this sport with. It has been an experience I will never forget! Though Ireland did not qualify for the World Cup this year, the football hype is still ever-present. Especially in meeting many international and study abroad students this semester, the event uniting us all is this sport and competition. This year, for sure, has been a real nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat type journey!
Starting in the second half of November, my entire flat became so engaged in watching all the matches on our kitchen TV. Most of the matches being played around 7pm Ireland time was perfect, as we all ended up in the kitchen for dinner with the game playing in the background. Ninety minutes later, we were still there, enjoying the time together, laughing at the players faking injuries and jumping out of our seats anytime a penalty is awarded too close to a team’s goal. Some of the flatmates did not know much about football and never really watched before. But, by the time they finished this semester, they were practically experts. Living with flatmates from all over the world, we truly connected in following this sport, becoming very close friends. Watching the nerve-wracking quarterfinals and semifinals, it became our flat’s special thing, with my friends putting up with my random football knowledge and obsessions with certain players (Messi 😊). We even went out to watch some of our favorite teams and players in nearby Irish pubs, with the hype environment and international cheer cementing itself into my memory forever.
Looking back through my World Cup memories, this 2022 tournament will definitely be associated with my Study Abroad journey. I think it is a bit symbolic that I am watching the Argentina vs. France final during my flight back to New Jersey, as my study abroad term ends. Of course, I will be keeping in touch all my new international football fans, telling them about this airborne experience!
Now, I am impatiently waiting for next year’s Women’s World Cup! Who knows where I will be then?