Put Your Best Footie Forward: World Cup is Coming!

Hey Catalyst 18!

Today (Tuesday March 27th) Germany plays Brazil in an international friendly soccer match in preparation for this summer’s World Cup tournament. These are two of the most skilled international soccer teams in the world, and they are both favorites to win the golden trophy in July while competing in the most watched sporting event on the planet. Pubs all around Europe will be showing matches every day and night during the competition, and I can’t recommend it enough to join in on the fun.

Even if you don’t care about soccer at all, even if you’ve never heard of any of the players, the World Cup is a legitimate world event that captivates the vast majority of the planet, and you will be fortunate enough to be in countries that care deeply about its results while it’s happening! Soccer means so much to Europeans, more than any sport does to Americans, and having the opportunity to immerse yourself within their fan culture even for just a fleeting moment is a chance you can’t pass up. You picked the perfect summer to go abroad!

A ton of you have said that one of the reasons you wanted to study abroad in the first place was to “get a global perspective.” But what does that really mean? Is it eating unfamiliar food? Is it looking at foreign art and architecture? Is it meeting local people and struggling through language barriers? Of course it’s those things. But I think that having the chance to share in either the joy or the heartbreak of locals as they watch their national team play their national sport on the world’s biggest stage is a really unique part of it too. The US didn’t qualify for the tournament, so you might as well support the local teams right alongside the people you’ll meet in pubs along the way. The World Cup only comes once every 4 years, so get involved!

Because the more you know players and the overall breakdown of how the World Cup will be unfolding, the more you’ll enjoy the amazing buildup that will be palpable at The Friend at Hand in London, and in every pub and cafe we all meet from that city forward this summer! There’s literally nothing in the whole world like the emotion generated by groups watching these epic matches together. You’re going to want to feel it too this summer, so start now!

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Jade’s Welcome to Catalyst 18

Hey scholars! My name is Jade Christian. I am a Florida native, born and raised in Panama City, FL. In 2014, I moved to Pensacola for my undergrad at the University of West Florida. In December 2017, I graduated from UWF, earning my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Over a year ago I was right where some of you were: in class listening to a bunch of folks talk about the Catalyst and how it’s “an opportunity we can’t miss!” Dr. Mackaman, a man of words let me tell you, had me daydreaming constantly about cobblestone streets, the charming coffee shops of Paris, and passport stamps. Little did I know how quickly my “dreams” would turn into reality.

I busted my ass to gather every penny I could get my hands on to help pay for this trip. And before I knew it, I was flying across the Atlantic Ocean to begin my first ever study abroad adventure. The Catalyst not only took me to the biggest capital cities in the world, but this program takes you to the core of what makes up these cities. From having Sunday Roast at the Tipperary with my WW1 peers to devouring a heaping serving of Goulash in Old City Prague, this program dumps the touristy route and takes these cities from the ground up.

There are many ways in which this program changed me. One worth noting is how confident I was coming into the Catalyst versus the year after. The first day of my acceleration I was traveling to Italy. Outside of Charles de Gaulle Airport, the Metro I was on came to an abrupt stop. Of course then the intercom went off, but it went off in French. Now, a normal American traveler may have freaked out by now but Jade, a Catalyst warrior in-the-making, eyed the crowd and went up to someone and blurted out the best French I knew (I cannot speak French fluently whatsoever, so keep that in mind). Fortunately, the man understood me and let me know which metro to take since ours has just broken down. Whew!

Approaching people has never been a strong suit for me. In fact, I was very introverted before going on this trip. Though I still have those tendencies to shy away from opportunities, I think back on how much I grew on the Catalyst. The Catalyst shoved me out of my comfort box and into a world that isn’t so scary. And that is what I hope I can help with all of you. This trip is going to make you ditch your comfort box at home. Scary, I know. But I promise you, it is all so worth it.

Cheers,

Jade.

Missy’s Advice on Shoes and More: Leave the Converse at Home!

Never underestimate the power of a good walking shoe. My average class day in Europe was 6-8 miles of walking along the Seine River or the cobblestone streets of Prague. Somedays you might even walk a half marathon (see photo). I learned from experience that my flat-bottomed, converse shoes were not the most adequate walking shoes. I had to spend 60 pounds on a pair of shoes in London. 

So be smart when packing and do your feet a favor. Pack a decent pair of shoes that are prepared for many miles of walking. For the shoe fanatics: packing multiple pairs of shoes will take up much of the available space in your bag. Try and limit the number of shoes you are taking to Europe. A pair of good walking shoes and another pair “nice” shoes for group dinners will do the trick.

Other necessities include a rain jacket (it tends to rain in the UK) and sunscreen for the Midwestern folks. The weather will change drastically going from London to ending in Prague. The 2017 Catalyst crew experienced 90 degree days in Paris. Be prepared for all the elements (probably not snow)! There are many tips and videos online for packing efficiency and the necessary items you will need for weeks in Europe. Use small storage bags for your clothing and small items. They act as vacuum seal bags and help maximize the space in your suitcase or backpack. There are also videos on how to roll your clothing. Check out “ranger rolling” t-shirts, it is very helpful and helps you when you need to pack that last extra t-shirt. Lastly, try and pack everything in the smallest bag possible. It is easy gallivanting across Europe with a large backpack or carry-on suitcase. European airlines also have strict standards on how large your bags can be if you choose to fly with them during your acceleration travel week. You will start to struggle when you are trying to walk from the metro to our Paris hostel with a large suitcase. If you have other packing related questions, do not hesitate to ask! Good luck and leave your Converse at home!

Missy T.