Annmarie Goyzueta ('14) is a Business Marketing major at the University of Hartford. This past spring, Annmarie spent a semester abroad studying at the University of Barcelona in Spain. Below, Annmarie reflects on what will forever be her favorite memory of Barcelona: a match between Barca and Real Madrid for the King’s Cup Semi-Final at Camp Nou--Barcelona's famous soccer stadium!
Obviously the most exciting part about being abroad is discovering a new city and culture. What I looked forward to the most about my semester in Barcelona was my chance to fully embrace my love for soccer. I vowed not to return home unless I made it to the holiest of all soccer stadiums, FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou; dramatic, but true. I thought I would just go to a random game, it did not matter who the opponent was as long as I got to see my soccer idols in their element would be enough. However, my real dream was to attend an “El Clasico” match against Barça’s biggest rival Real Madrid, but I knew it would be close to impossible to do so.
For those who do not follow soccer, let me try to explain the importance of this one game. The rivalry between these two teams is like the Celtics/Lakers, Red Sox/Yankees, Bruins/Canadians, and Duke/North Carolina rivalries…combined. When I learned I would be in town for the King’s Cup Semi-Final featuring Barca vs. Real Madrid, I knew it was my destiny to go to that game. I went up and down Las Ramblas, one of Barcelona’s main attractions (a strip of markets, stores, and restaurants right next to Plaza Catalunya) for days going from kiosk to kiosk, store to store, begging to see if anyone could help me obtain my Golden Ticket. Every single time I was hysterically laughed at and told to give up. Completely discouraged, I’d decided perhaps it was not my fate to go to this particular game and would have to pick another one to go to, just when the unthinkable happened.
At a meet and greet to practice Spanish with locals put on by my study abroad program, I was fortunate enough to meet Eduard, a season ticket holder at none other than Camp Nou. When he learned of my love for his team he offered his help to get me tickets to THE game. He made no guarantees or promises, but by simply trying he was able to renew my hope.
On February 26th I, along with over 90,000 fans, got to watch Messi, Puyol, Pique, Villa, Fabregas, Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Valdez, and the rest of the FC Barcelona team live in action at Camp Nou. Despite the devastating 3-1 loss, that night will forever be one of the best nights of my life. Eduard was able to help my friends and I get the most amazing seats just behind the Barca cheering section and the goal post. Our seats were perfect; I could see every angle and everyone. Even without my glasses I was able to clearly see each and every one of the players’ faces. Granted, I could have done without seeing Cristiano Ronaldo’s smirk so vividly after making his penalty shot, but watching Barcelona play in real life is just as Bob Simon from 60 Minutes describes it: “poetry in motion.”
I have never been in an environment that can compare to that one. I had chills just walking into the parking lot seeing the masses of people. It was easy to pick out the Real Madrid fans in the pools of blue and red. I will never forget the moment when the FC Barcelona Anthem came on. As I looked around the stadium I saw thousands of flags waving, welcoming the home team to the field. There are really no other words to describe the dedication of Barca’s fans except for incredibly loyal. Even though they were down by three, when Barcelona scored its only goal of the night the entire stadium came to life and celebrated as if they were up by 10 points. For the full ninety-three minutes, the fan section had a repertoire of songs and cheers that flowed continuously. This will forever be my favorite memory of Barcelona.
Interested in studying abroad? The University of Hartford offers many program options in Spain (and dozens of other countries around the world)! Contact Susan Carey in the Study Abroad Office for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.hartford.edu/studyabroad
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