Spain Recap

It’s impossible to try and write 10 months’ worth of crazy adventures and experiences about my time playing in Spain into one post. I would seriously need to write a novel to fit everything in. The beautiful thing about playing abroad is that it is so much more than just playing fútbol. The people you meet, the traveling you do, and the memories you make are just as important in my eyes. So, in this post, I am going to recap my favorite non-fútbol things and memories of my time in Spain that made it so incredible. Vamanos!


Almuñećar is the beautiful little city on the southern coast of Spain that became my second home. I was so content living in this city because it had everything I loved: the sea, mountains, narrow cobblestone streets, and gorgeous views. Right along the beach, you can find a number of great seafood restaurants and bars. And the mountains made for awesome adventures like hiking and seeing incredible sunset views. The heart of the city is very traditional European looking with narrow streets filled with little restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, markets, and shops. Although it was a sleepy little town, Almuñecar is just an hour away from two major cities – Malaga and Granada. This made for perfect day trips to these bigger cities if we wanted a change of scenery and pace.

Day-to-day life in Almunecar was a slice of heaven. A lot of my time outside of fútbol was spent at the beach, going for long walks along the boardwalk, climbing heights to see new sunset spots and views, shopping at the street markets on Friday and Sunday, and going out for dinner and drinks at the beach restaurants and bars. I basically was on a 10-month long vacation living there and I enjoyed every second of it.


Although living on the southern coast of Spain was an actual dream, it was really the team and people that made my experience so incredible. From practice and gym sessions, Spanish class, traveling around Spain together, and all living in the same house, my teammates and I spent every waking and sleeping minute together. Because of this, the connection we all had on and off the field was so strong, and we became a family instantly. These girls (and coaches– shout out Pabs!) all became my lifelong friends and honestly writing about them right now brings a tear to my eye. 

We all came from different backgrounds and countries, (Ireland, Spain, England, USA, Canada, and Guatemala) but what made us all vibe together so well was our desire for a crazy experience and of course our love for fútbol! Let’s just say… we worked hard and played hard. We absolutely made the most of those 10 months. 


What a beautiful, chaotic, incredible shit-show of a living experience. “La Casa Roja” (“The Red House”) is a big red villa in Almunecar, Spain that my 13 teammates and I lived in. Yup, you heard that right! 14 of us lived in there. It’s a 3 story house with 7 rooms (2 girls to each room), a pool, a massive backyard with an outdoor BBQ, 3 huge balconies with views of beautiful Almunecar, and not enough bathrooms. Let’s just say not even 4 bathrooms and 3 showers were sufficient for 14 sweaty athletes with stomach issues. We all had to get very close, very fast lol. 

But besides the bathroom situation and problems with our electricity, water heating, power, and wifi, La Casa Roja was an epic place to live in! After training, most of our days included: tanning and reading by the pool, hanging out and eating meals together on the balcony, watching (or attempting to watch because our wifi never worked) fútbol games and tv shows in the living room, doing yoga and at-home workouts at the backyard patio, and having dance parties in the kitchen. The house was filled with laughter 24/7 and for 14 girls living together, there was really never any drama which honestly seems impossible. 

You also might be thinking: “A house with 14 people… That seems impossible to keep clean!”. And you my friend, are absolutely correct! The house was a complete disaster  24/7 no matter how hard we tried to have it not be. If I had known that 14 of us were going to all be living together, I might have second-guessed my decision because that honestly sounds terrifying. I had already done the college experience living in a wild house with a bunch of roommates. But this was like a college living experience on steroids. 14 girls (ages 18-26) from all over the world who don’t know each other, living together in a foreign country… it could either go really bad or really great. Thankfully, it went really great! La Casa Roja was really the foundation, literally and figuratively, of our team’s Spain experience. It was our home, the setting of many incredible memories, and everyone in it was family.


Living abroad and not being with family for the holidays can be difficult. It’s sad seeing your family and friends gathering back home and not being able to join them. This was my, and many of my teammate’s first times being away for some of the major holidays. But we did not let this negatively affect our holiday cheer because we went OFF for holidays! We decorated the house, prepared huge feasts, and dressed festively for every occasion. Some of my favorite memories are cooking together in the kitchen while blasting music and dancing as we try and prepare the massive meals after drinking a little too much. Somehow the food always turned out incredible and we managed not to burn the house down. 

Love Island

Our house became obsessed with the British Reality TV show called “Love Island”. If you haven’t heard of the show, basically a group of single guys and girls who don’t know each other, all live in a villa in hopes that they fall in love with someone in there.

Anyway, we would binge-watch love island every night and one day we got inspired and decided to recreate the show amongst ourselves. Since we also lived in a villa, it was the perfect setting for this recreation! So 5 of us put on intense makeup, wore high heels, and put on skimpy outfits to look like the girls on the show. And the other 5 turned themselves into douchey boys by drawing on beards/mustaches and wearing baggy clothes. Rosie (our English teammate) mimicked Caroline Flack who was the host of Love Island and also did the voice-over comments. She nailed the part perfectly because of her accent! And lastly, Olivia was our incredible videographer and producer who also edited the videos to make it into the episode. Every single person in the house had a part or character and committed fully to it.

We spent a whole afternoon/night filming this and ended up making a full 20-minute long episode. It was one of the funniest days ever. We filmed each person doing an introduction of themselves, then the boys and girls meeting for the first time and picking who they wanted to be coupled up with, and of course the inevitable drama that happened throughout the night. It was absolutely hilarious filming this and the amount of dedication to our characters was flawless. We couldn’t stop laughing while filming because it was so spot on to the show and ridiculous. The full episode turned out to be a cinematic masterpiece. I’m convinced that if we sent it to the Love Island producers, they would actually want us all on their show!

Dressing up and creating this episode is a perfect example of all the crazy things we would get into living at La Casa Roja. Every day there was something new and weird that we would come up with. There definitely was never a dull day living with these psychopaths.


We went on some pretty incredible hikes during our time in Spain. The Southern coast of Spain is insanely beautiful so the views and nature we experienced on these hikes were pretty unreal. As an avid hiker back home, it was a blast to be able to explore Spain’s mountains and see what the non-city setting was like. Our coaches were so nice and wanted us to see many different parts of Spain, so we went on a couple hikes as a team for our training for the day. And then on our off days, a few of us would rent a car and drive ourselves to the trailheads. Most, if not all of the trails we went on did not have any signs to ensure we were going the right way or people we could ask for directions. So most of our hikes turned into epic adventures involving climbing up mountains in the wrong direction, getting lost, but always persevering and eventually finding our way. It was always a great time.



We spent a lot of time in Granada. It’s an incredibly beautiful city, rich in history with many sites to see and places to eat. It was an easy day trip by bus or car ride. Unfortunately with COVID, there were many restrictions on travel and experiencing Spain to the fullest. At one point we were not allowed to travel outside our providence of Granada (thankfully we could still go to Granada!). In addition, curfew was placed at 6pm so all bars, restaurants, stores, etc… were closed very early. We all obviously wanted to experience Spain to the max despite these regulations, so we had to get creative with how we spent our off days. One day, my teammates and I decided to rent a van and drive to Granada where we rented an Airbnb for the night. In the daytime, we toured around Granada, and at night we threw a wig party amongst ourselves at our Airbnb. Everyone created a new “identity” based on how they looked and felt in their wig. We spent the night dancing, playing games, and laughing at how funny everyone looked. It was one of my favorite nights.


At the end of our season, most of the team and I went to Barcelona as a last hurrah to end our 10 months in Spain. It was such an epic trip. We stayed in a hostel in the city where we met other cool travelers from around the world. We adventured around Barcelona; going to museums, laying on the beach, seeing sights, shopping, watching fútbol games at cafés, eating lots of food, and partying hard at night. There couldn’t have been a more perfect trip to encapsulate our time together in Spain and say goodbye to one another. 

This post only scratches the surface of all the fun and crazy adventures we had while living in Spain. This experience is something that is indescribable. I wish I could accurately explain my team’s dynamic and just how much fun we had, but I can’t. It’s something that only my teammates and coaches understand because you just had to be there. This was without a doubt the best 10 months of my life. I seriously think about and miss my team and Spain every day. I can’t express how grateful I am to have met so many incredible people and have the greatest 10 month Spain adventure of all time!


How I Started Playing Overseas

So how the heck did I end up playing abroad? Well… this is how it started!

I graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in December 2019 where I played NCAA Division II soccer. I had a really successful last two seasons and was not ready to end my career there. I knew I had not reached my full potential and wanted to continue playing.

I had always dreamed of living in a foreign country. I have many friends who studied abroad in college and many friends from around the world who have come to America to study. Everyone who’s experienced this has told me how incredible it was. Unfortunately, because I was playing college soccer I was never able to do a study abroad program because we trained year-round.

I had traveled to different countries before for vacations and really fell in love with traveling and exploring new places. This was only a taste of what it was like to live in a different country, and I always craved more!

Because of my love for travel and desire to continue my soccer career, my goal was to combine the two and play abroad! The only problem was… I had no idea how.

After my college senior year season ended, I talked to my coach about wanting to play overseas. He helped send out my highlight tape to one or two international teams (I don’t even remember where or who they were), but they didn’t reach back out.

I moved back to my parent’s home in Santa Barbara after I graduated in December 2019, and started working as a caregiver at Valle Verde Retirement Community and as a soccer coach for Santa Barbara Soccer Shots. I was applying to nursing schools and even got accepted into Western University’s Accelerated Masters Program. I also joined a new WPSL (adult women’s league) soccer team that had just started in Santa Barbara called Alta Sol. I was overall really happy, but I was still thinking about playing abroad 24/7.

When COVID-19 hit, the WPSL team had to terminate the season and my main focus was working at the retirement community, trying to keep my clients safe and healthy. Playing soccer was put in the back of my mind at this time.

Until… In May 2020 I got a random direct message on Instagram from the FC Malaga City Instagram page saying they were an international soccer academy in Spain starting a new women’s program and looking for talented players to recruit.

It seemed way too good to be true. This dream opportunity just slid into my DMs! I thought it was a scam. Although I had no real expectations of something coming of this, I decided I had nothing to lose and planned a phone call with the recruiter who contacted me.

He definitely sold me. The pictures he sent of Almuñe´car, Spain (the city I would be living in), the fields and facilities, “La Casa Roja” (the villa I would be living in)… it all looked like something out of a movie. Actual heaven. But of course, there was a catch…

… I had to PAY to play there. I of course was hoping I would be the one GETTING paid. But, because this was an academy team with its focus on exposure and development to get its players recruited to Spanish professional teams, it was not considered a professional team.

The money was a hard pill to swallow, but I decided I would commit to playing for 3-months which was all I could afford. I couldn’t pass by on this opportunity and this was the exact adventure I was looking for.

So on August 17th, 2020 I hopped on a plane to Spain during the heart of COVID, to a brand new team and crazy adventure…

Fast forward to July 2021… I had just gotten home from Spain when I received a text from my old college teammate, Leslie. She recently got in contact with a recruiter to play overseas and was wondering if I wanted to also send him over my highlight tape. I said “of course” but I didn’t think anything would come of it since I have not had the best luck in the past. But within a couple of days of me sending him my highlights, the recruiter found a team in Serbia called ŽFK Mašina´c Trace in the 1st Division SuperLiga that wanted to sign us immediately.

I was torn between going back to Spain and going to Serbia. I absolutely loved Spain and had my mind set on going back. However, this Serbia opportunity offered me monthly payments, food, housing, and plane flight reimbursements. In addition, ŽFK Mašina´c Trace is one of the top teams in Serbia, finishing first or second in their league for many years in a row!

After a couple of days of thinking I decided I had nothing to lose by going to Serbia! It would be a crazy new adventure, I would definitely improve my level of play, and I would be doing it with my 3 old college teammates! And if worse came to worse, I could always rejoin my team in Spain.

So, two weeks later I reunited with my old college teammates, Leslie, Kim, and Jazz in the LAX airport and we started our Serbian adventure!

My Personal Story as an Athlete with Eating Disorders

As an athlete, everyone looks up to you thinking you have phenomenal health. People think you must have an incredible diet and exude an overall healthy lifestyle in order to perform at a high level. This unfortunately is so far from the truth, especially for female athletes. According to, about 45% of female athletes struggle with an eating disorder! It’s tough to admit but I am definitely a part of that statistic. It may not seem like it because of the way my body looks, and the seemingly healthy diet I have, but I have been struggling with eating disorders and body dysmorphia for years. I have only just started to understand my problem with this which is why I am opening up about it. I want to share my story to bring awareness to the misconception that just because an athlete looks a certain way or performs at a high level, does not mean they are healthy.

My story has many different layers to it so I’ll try my best to organize this in a way that makes sense. Here it goes…

My story

I have struggled and still am struggling with eating disorders. My problems trace back to when I was growing up but became most noticeable my freshman year of college and on.

I love food. I always have. It’s something that I can always remember that has brought me so much joy and excitement. I always looked forward to mealtime and fantasize about what I am going to eat next. Unfortunately, this extreme love for food has turned into a really unhealthy relationship. When I was younger, (elementary school until senior year of high school) I was able to stay skinny while eating an incredible amount of food. I used to pride myself and see it as a game about how much I could eat. People would comment on my large portions and ability to still stay lean. I took this as a great compliment and it fueled me to eat even more! I never worried about gaining weight because my metabolism was so fast and I stayed active. So even when I was so full I would push through and eat more. I basically ate to the point of extreme un-comfortability every day. Back then I did not realize I had a problem because I remained thin and I stayed extremely active being a 3 sport athlete. However, now I understand this was the start of my binge eating disorder.

My extreme eating eventually caught up to me. My freshman year of college I got my body fat tested as a requirement for being a student-athlete and my results came back saying I was obese… 32% body fat. When I heard that I was obese I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that I could be a college soccer player, working out 3 hours a day, eating relatively healthy, but be obese! I tried to laugh it off, but this really broke me inside because being skinny was something I always prided myself on being. I was recommended to go to a nutritionist but I took this as an offense because I genuinely ate healthy foods (I just ate a LOT of it). I never went to the nutritionist and looking back I really wish I did.

In high school, I would sometimes throw up after meals because I would eat so much food in one sitting. I never forced it, it just happened because I was so full. “I’m so full I can throw up right now” was a joke but it actually happened. Unfortunately, after the body fat test, I started purposefully making myself throw up. I did not know how to control my eating and so when I would over-eat or feel really full, I would throw it up.

It was a very confusing time because I did not know how to properly fuel my body. Back then I had a weird fear of being hungry. So, instead of listening to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness, I just aired on the side of “caution” and would over-eat so I wouldn’t get hungry later. Even though the food I was eating was healthy, I was over-eating constantly.

Thankfully, my bulimia did not escalate and I stopped forcing myself to throw up during my sophomore year of college. During the end of my sophomore year and beginning of junior year, a flip switched and I stopped eating like every meal was my last. I started listening to my body and ended up losing a lot of weight, in a healthy way! I was not even trying to do this, it just happened. And I didn’t even notice I was losing weight until people started commenting on how I looked.

I have always been told I have a nice body, but especially after losing that weight, I was praised for it. This then turned into my obsession with staying skinny and fit which has persisted until today. I became afraid of becoming “obese” again and judged my worth based on how my body looked.

So, unfortunately, my eating disorders and body dysmorphia continued.

Another factor that has caused my unhealthy food habits is my struggles with acne, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and hair loss (I’ll talk more in-depth about these in later posts). I have struggled with acne and irritable bowel syndrome since I was in elementary school, basically as long as I can remember. Over the years I have gone to doctors/dermatologists countless times to help cure these problems but nothing helped. This has led me to obsessively searching the internet to find solutions.

Restricting my diet to being Gluten Free, Keto, sugar-free, and Low FODMAPS are just some of the things the internet has told me will help my conditions. I attempted these diets and unfortunately, none of them helped my symptoms. Instead, caused unhealthy eating habits like restrictive and binge eating and a negative relationship with food. Because I love all food so much, it was so hard to stop myself from eating the “forbidden foods”. So when I would eat these foods, I would binge them and then feel extremely guilty for it.

Dealing with these health problems and my obsession with staying fit became a perfectly disastrous combination, leading to extreme eating habits that I thought at the time were healthy.

This is something that I recently struggled with while living in Spain and Serbia. Most recently, during the first part of my season in Serbia, I had the worst acne of my life. I was convinced that the food I was eating was causing my symptoms. The internet said that becoming Keto (low carb and sugar) would reduce my insulin spikes and therefore help my acne. I was desperate so I tried this and for the most part, I did not eat bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and corn, avoided certain fruits, and tried to not eat sugar. I basically just ate protein and vegetables. And if I did eat carbs or sweets, I would spiral out of control and binge eat these, then feel disgusted with myself. It was so difficult because bread, potatoes, and rice are a huge part of the cuisine in Serbia (and Europe in general). Therefore, completely avoiding these foods was almost impossible. I also love these foods, so I really did not want to stop eating them! As a result, when I did end up eating these “forbidden” foods, I would lose it and decide to have a full-on cheat day, binging as many sweets and carbs as I could. All because I had a piece of bread or some potatoes…

During this time all I thought about was my acne, hair loss, food, and my body. I became even more obsessed with working out. My thinking was that my body had to look its’ best because my face did not. To make things worse, my soccer playing really declined during this period. I had no confidence on the field and had the worst season of my life. It was really embarrassing, honestly. I could not connect a pass for my life and second-guessed every move I made on the field. It made me question if I was even a good player anymore.

I really think my diet and mindset played a huge part in this. I was so worried about what I looked like that I was willing to do whatever it took to fix that problem instead of focusing on what was going to make me a better player. I over-worked myself off the field, under-ate, and had no confidence at all.

I decided that I was sick of feeling this way so I decided to get professional health with a holistic doctor. Thankfully she has helped. The first thing I did when I went back to the United States for Christmas break was get a food allergy test and blood pannel done. Turns out, I have NO allergies to foods. I have slight intolerances, but nothing to the point where I must cut a certain food out of my life. My years of insisting that gluten and carbs were the culprits causing my problems, was proved untrue in about a day. I felt so happy but also extremely confused. What could be causing my problems then?

Due to a couple other factors (I’ll get into them in a future blog post), I believe the WAY I was eating food was a main contributer to my problems. Binging a ton of sugar and snacks when I got my hands on them, or overeating at restaurants/cheat meals because I thought “this is my one time to do it”, definitely caused stomach problems and breakouts consistently.

THANKFULLY after getting my food allergy tests back, now I allow myself to eat all foods in moderation. I know that specific foods aren’t the sole reason for my problems. This new mindset has really helped limit my binge eating and created a healthier relationship with food. Because I genuinely love the taste of healthy foods, I’m starting to trust and listen to what my body is craving. If I’m craving toast with peanut butter, then I’m going to eat it and not feel guilty for it! It’s been so freeing not placing these restrictions on myself anymore and honestly my stomach problems and acne have gotten so much better! What a concept huh?

I’m also starting to play like myself again. I have a lot more confidence on the ball and don’t feel like a lost puppy dog running around the field. Thank god.

I absolutely still struggle with binge eating and body dysmorphia but I can genuinely say that I am so much better. I feel like I finally have control and am aware of my triggers.

Unhealthy Signs that made me realize I Have a problem

Poor Eating Habits:

  • I’ll stand in the kitchen for long periods of time snacking on foods from the cabinets and fridge, instead of putting them on a plate and sitting down to eat them. My thought process is that “I just want a few chips”, but then I end up eating half the bag and didn’t even enjoy it because I was thinking about how I needed to stop the entire time.
  • I eat when I’m bored, anxious, or trying to avoid doing something.
  • When there are sweets in the house, I eat all of them because I want to get rid of them, so I don’t eat them later. Therefore, instead of having 2 cookies, I’ll binge eat 10 because I just want them out of the house so I can start eating “healthy” again.
  • I feel bad leaving food behind, so I always eat everything that’s on my plate (and other people’s plates too!) even when I’m full.

“Checking myself out” in the mirror constantly: The first thing I do in the morning is go to the bathroom, lift my shirt up, and examine my stomach in the mirror. The first thing I do to start off my day is see how skinny I am. If I’m a little bloated or not looking the way I think I should, it immediately leads to a negative day where I am worried about the foods I eat because I think I am getting fat. I did not realize I do this until recently. But this is something I do and have been doing for years. I now have taken note that I actually go to the mirror and look at my stomach multiple times a day. I’ve found that I plan my meals based on how my stomach looks instead of the hunger I am feeling.

Thinking about food 24/7: When I am eating breakfast, I am thinking about what I’ll eat for lunch. When I’m eating lunch, I am thinking about dinner. And during dinner, I am thinking about the food I will eat the next day. At all times of the day, I am planning my food and if I eat something outside of my plan I feel guilty for it and spiral out of control.

Over-exercising: While living in Spain and Serbia, I got into the bad habit of going to the gym even when my body was tired and sore in addition to our soccer practices. I did this because I felt I needed to do two workouts a day in order to stay super fit, not gain weight, and earn the food I ate. However, I realized the gym workouts weren’t aimed to improve my game, but instead make my body look a certain way. As a result, my body became tired, not stronger, and my playing level dropped.

I also would go on really long walks to burn more calories and to get myself out of the house so I wouldn’t eat. If I was at home for long periods of time, I would consistently eat because I was bored. I really enjoy walking, but after two practices, walking 4 miles is not healthy. In addition, my lack of ability to control my eating at home was not healthy.

Stealing other people’s foods: I have always been very good at not buying junk food when I go to the grocery store. I have self-control in that way. However, when there is junk food in my house, I have absolutely no self-control, even when it was not mine. Living with a bunch of roommates in college and in Spain was torture sometimes because the house was always stocked with something sweet. Because I would try to restrict myself from eating sweets, I couldn’t control myself if I did get my hands on something sugary.

I would also like to take the time to apologize to all my roommates I’ve stolen from! I’M SORRY AND LOVE YA’LL!

Comparing myself to all my teammates: In my experience, being an athlete causes a lot more unhealthy habits than one may realize. For example, because you are surrounded by so many badass women, comparing yourself to your teammates is inevitable. Even if you don’t realize it, it subconsciously happens. For me, not only am I comparing my playing to my teammates, but also my body and what I eat. Wishing my legs were as toned or my arms were more muscular as some players’; every day is a constant comparison and the desire for my body to look differently. In addition, living and eating many meals with teammates has created the unhealthy habit of me constantly comparing my food portion sizes and what I eat to theirs. I notice the smaller portion size of my 5’3 teammate and get mad at myself for eating more than her when I am significantly taller than her and obviously need to eat more calories. Instead of listening to my own body (which is completely different than all my teammates!), I subconsciously mimic their food choices and feel embarrassed if I eat more food. Ridiculous right?

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading this lengthy and personal post lol! My goal of this isn’t to give any advice, but rather to share my story to bring awareness. Eating disorders among athletes are something that is unfortunately rarely talked about even though it is incredibly relevant in this population. Like myself, many people don’t realize that their eating and working out habits are actually disordered and therefore, decreasing their athletic performance. I hope that if anyone reading this is also struggling with something similar that this gives them the courage to get professional help! Peace and love to everyone. Thanks for following and supporting me along my journey 💜