From Serbia to Mexico

A lot of changes have happened in the past 6 months! It’s been a crazy rollercoaster of traveling, adventures, and of course… fútbol! My season in Serbia ended in early June 2022. We finished 3rd in the Serbian Superliga and made it to the semi-finals of the Serbian Cup. Overall, I had an incredible time in Serbia, but I knew I would not return for another season. I believed I needed to move to a different country with a more competitive league to grow as a player. So I left Serbia, not knowing what country I would play in next, but very confident that something would work out!

Before I returned to the United States, my brother and I decided to meet in Greece for a little vacation. Serbia is so close to Greece and Dan was heading to his study abroad program in Italy, so we could not think of a better meeting place to reunite! Because Dan and I are both broke, we knew we couldn’t afford a real vacation in Greece. So we signed up with this program called WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Farms) that connected us with a family in Kiato, Greece who needed help tending to their farm. Basically, we worked on their property and in return got free accommodations and food during our stay! We worked about 5 hours a day, de-rusting and painting a big fence that gated their property and tending to their garden. The rest of the day we had free to adventure around the beautiful little beach city of Kiato and spend some quality time laying by the sea. We also made a trip to Athens on our last day there and toured the Acropolis and other incredible sites. It was such a fun trip! I highly recommend doing WWOOF if you’re looking for a unique and more personal experience while traveling or want to save some money and don’t mind getting your hands dirty!

After our Greece trip, I returned home to Santa Barbara where I began training and working hard to get recruited to a new team. I was invited to play in a game for a WPSL semi-pro team from Los Angeles called Elite. They were scrimmaging a team called Xolos from Tijuana, Mexico. It turned out that the team from Mexico was looking to recruit center defenders (my position)! So when I confirmed playing in this scrimmage, the Xolos coaches and staff were notified so they could pay close attention to my playing. For some reason, I knew that I would play really well in this scrimmage and that I would end up playing for this team in Mexico. I had offers from other professional teams, but I had a different feeling about this team that I couldn’t explain– even before the scrimmage ever happened.

Turns out my gut instinct was correct! I played well during the scrimmage and impressed the Xolos team enough to offer me a paid contract for a year. So two weeks later in early July, I moved to Tijuana, Mexico where I have been playing since! It was very difficult trying to explain to my family why I was choosing to move to Tijuana, Mexico to play. After all, it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world… but I had to trust my intuition that this was going to be the best decision for my soccer career. And so far it has been! It has been so incredibly fun playing on this team and in the LaLiga MX. The fan base is incredible, the stadiums are insane, and the media coverage is worldwide. I feel like I have finally made it as a professional athlete.

We finished our 2022 season in November, placing 5th in the league (out of 18 teams) and making it to the quarterfinals of playoffs. I had a really great season and played every game in its entirety! I’m bummed we didn’t make it farther in playoffs but I am already looking forward to the 2023 season starting at the beginning of January.

Currently, my team is in pre-season gearing up for our 2023 season. Playing in the Mexican league is quite a whirlwind being year-round, and only having 3 weeks off in between seasons. There’s not much time to rest or switch off, but I’m loving the grind.

I hope to give ya’ll more updates and posts about my experiences in Mexico. I have been really lagging on writing lately and I apologize for that! Thanks for reading my little life update and I’ll be back with more content soon <3.


Serbia Story Time

My time in Serbia came to an end in June, so now I’m left reflecting on my time there and all the incredible memories. I had so many special interactions with the Serbian people that changed my perspective on how to connect with others. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that Serbians are some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met, and I now want to elaborate on that! I experienced so much kindness in Serbia that it has blown my mind. To be living solo in a foreign country, Serbia is definitely one of the best places I could have gone to. There are so many situations where I experienced incredible hospitality and warmth that I, unfortunately, can’t write about them all. So, I’ll just be sharing two stories that have really stuck with me the most!

“Jedan Pivo!” at Bovanska Jezero:

Bovanska Jezero is a lake about 40 minutes away from Nis. I decided to go there alone one day because it was a gorgeous day and I NEEDED some nature and water in my life. I had never been to the lake before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Many of my Serbian friends hadn’t been to that lake before either, so I was really just going for it! I took the bus to the city of Bovan and then easily walked to the lake from there. When I got to the main lakeshore, I was extremely sad to see that there was trash and plastic washed up on the little sandy beach. The main reason why I went to the lake was so I could finally swim in some water, but that water did not look appealing. The rest of the lake was beautiful; however, more difficult to access.

I wasn’t going to let the trash stop me from swimming in the lake, so I decided to walk around the lake to find a clean spot to jump in from. I walked along a dirt road that had houses on the left side, and on the right side, staircases going down to each house’s dock on the lake. I knew my best bet was to get on one of those docks to jump in from, because the rest of the lake’s shore was covered by trees and shrubs, making the water difficult to access. The problem was a lot of these staircases had locked gates, guarding their access to the dock and water. I obviously didn’t want to trespass or get in trouble for doing something dumb like this, but I reallyyyyy needed to find a dock to jump into the water from.

At the end of the dirt road, I saw a concrete staircase going down to its dock that didn’t have a locked gate and was shaded by many trees, making it really private and hidden. The house above had no sign of life or action, so I decided that was the one! I walked down the stairs to a little concrete slab where I immediately dove into the beautiful lake from. It was incredible. I was completely at peace.

After about 20 minutes of hanging out there, I heard footsteps coming down the steps above. I looked up and this man and I locked eyes for about 5 seconds straight. I stopped him dead in his tracks. To break the silence, I proceeded to say, “izvini, ne govorim srbski!” (sorry I don’t speak Serbian) and to the best of my abilities tried to say that I wanted to swim in the water. He laughed, then told me, “nema veza, sedi, sedi” (nevermind, sit sit). He was very confused because why the f** would there be an American girl just chilling on his remote dock, alone? I’d be extremely confused too. But he graciously let me stay on his dock and even asked if I wanted anything to drink.

A little later I decided to leave the dock and walk back to the bus station. While leaving, I said bye and thank you to the man, when I heard yelling from the porch of the house above. An old man was yelling at me “Jedan pivo, jedan pivo” which means one beer, one beer! I turned around and saw this elderly man sitting on a porch from the house above, waving his hands, motioning me to come and sit with him on his porch. I laughed and for a second thought, maybe this is a little dangerous? But then I followed my gut and went to sit with the old man. After being in Serbia for 10 months, I knew this was the way of the friendly Serbians and not just some creepy old guy.

The elderly man was the other man’s father, so he also joined us on the porch. Turns out they got locked out of their house after returning from the store and didn’t have a replacement key, so they were stuck waiting outside with all their groceries while they waited for a replacement key. They offered me drinks, and we sat and talked on the porch for about 20 minutes. They only knew a few words in English, but we somehow managed to have a full conversation about futbol, America, Serbian food, and why they were locked out of their house. It was such a funny experience. They invited me to use their dock and visit them whenever I wanted. I unfortunately never went back because my time in Serbia was limited, but I definitely miss my porch homies!

The Old Lady and Homemade Jam

In February 2022, right after I returned to Serbia, I got into the routine of doing a workout outside my apartment building in the mornings. Often this little old Serbian woman would come up to me during my workouts, trying to tell me something as she walked past my apartment building. Even though it was winter, because I was working out I wasn’t wearing a heavy jacket. So I think she was coming up to tell me to put some clothes on or ask me what the f**k I was doing! Anyway, she didn’t speak a word of English and I could barely understand anything she said. This always led to a pretty funny and slightly uncomfortable encounter. Even though I told her many times, “Ne govorim Srbski” (I don’t speak Serbian), she continued to ask me questions and try to talk to me. I really respected her determination to talk to me and honestly tried my hardest to understand and communicate with her. When I would respond to her saying, “Ne resume, izvini!” (I don’t understand, sorry), she would then yell her questions even louder and use big arm movements/gestures, hoping this would make me understand. To paint you an even better picture, all her teeth were missing except for one front tooth that was barely holding on for dear life. So spit was flying everywhere too while she was yelling her questions at me. Even with all of this going on, I obviously still didn’t understand her questions. Our encounters usually ended with her getting frustrated and both of us walking away laughing. This was our little morning routine 🙂

One morning when I was in the middle of my workout, I saw her walk up to me carrying two large bags of groceries. I quickly mentally prepared myself for another failed attempt at communication and tried to remember every Serbian word I had ever learned. When she walked up I proudly say “Ciao, kako ste!?” (Hi, how are you?!), because that’s the only Serbian I had dialed down at that point. She responded by saying she was good and then quickly said something I couldn’t understand. I just smiled and nodded my head like usual, pretending to understand. She then reached into her bag, pulled out a jar, and handed it to me. She said “domaća djam” which means “homemade jam” and then pointed to the market across the street. I understood that she was telling me she just bought the jam from the market across the street. I didn’t know how to communicate back to her, so I just gave her a thumbs up and told her the jam looked really tasty! I then tried to hand back the jar of jam to her but she refused and told me to take it (at least I’m guessing that’s what she said). We went back and forth for a couple seconds of me trying to hand her back the jar and her motioning for me to take it. I finally accepted it and thanked her many times for the gift.

I was so touched by this jar of jam that she gave me. From our previous encounters, I really couldn’t tell if she was annoyed by me and thought I was a dumb foreigner or actually liked me! This was like her way of communicating to me that I was welcome here. And it truly did make me feel more at home.

Skills I’ve Gained From Living Alone

It’s crazy to think about how I was living with 13 other girls in a massive villa in Spain just a year ago, and now I’m living alone in a single bedroom apartment in Serbia. In Spain, it was almost impossible to have time alone (sometimes not even when going to the bathroom haha), and now time alone is a lot of my day! Complete polar opposite experiences. Of course, I see friends throughout the week and have practice every day, so I’m not some hermit without social contact. But living alone was definitely a big adjustment I had to adapt to because I am a very social person.

Living alone was never something I saw myself doing. I always imagined myself continuing to live with teammates, friends, and family. And in the future, when the time is right I imagined moving in with a significant other. Therefore, I never saw living alone in my future, and living alone in a foreign country was COMPLETELY out of question. When I initially came to Serbia, I came with three other Americans and we lived with each other in an apartment. However, Jazz, Kim, and Leslie did not return to Serbia after Christmas break, and I was left to return to Serbia solo. So, I’ve been living on my own in Serbia for the past 5 months. It was never intended for me to be living alone, but it just happened to work itself out that way.

This has been a challenge at times, but also a blessing because there are so many things I have learned about myself during this period. I really do miss having roommates and being surrounded by friends 24/7, but I think it was meant to be that I spent this time alone to discover myself. I don’t see myself living alone again after this chapter in Serbia, but I am grateful for this experience.

I’ll be sharing what living on my own has taught me and how I have grown from this experience. I know living on your own is a big step in adulthood and can be challenging or scary. Hopefully, this will give a better perspective to see the positives of being alone.

5 Skills I’ve Learned:

  1. Positive Self Talk: When you spend so much time alone, you become the person you talk to the most. This sounds crazy and a little sad haha, but you basically have to become your own best friend! I had to change the way I was talking to myself because I didn’t realize how negative I was about myself beforehand. Being surrounded by so many roommates, friends, teammates, and family 24/7, I didn’t think about the way I talked to myself because I was so busy talking to the people I was surrounded with. So being alone has forced me to be more positive in my thoughts about myself and life in general. If my thoughts and the way I think about myself are negative, then I would spend most of the day being pretty depressed. I had to become a person I enjoyed being with, otherwise, I would have been miserable.
  2. Self-Reliance: Living and traveling on my own forced me to become fiercely independent. My abilities grew because most challenges or problems that arose, I had to figure out on my own. I’ve learned to trust my intuition more and have gained confidence in my abilities to handle tough situations. You really have to be more careful, cautious, and aware because sometimes there isn’t someone immediately there to help you if a problem arises (For example, missing your bus at midnight in a foreign city and having to wait until 6 am for the next one. Or losing your keys and being locked out of your apartment in the middle of the night…). I’ve had to gain some lessons the hard way but have gotten through them alive and well!
  3. Outgoing-ness: Because I have been fortunate enough to live with my teammates and friends since moving away from my parent’s home, I never had to put myself out there in an effort to make new friends. I’ve always had my best friends living with me. As a result, I have never been forced to be super outgoing. So, living in Serbia has really pushed me outside of my comfort zone because I have had to be the one to initiate hang-outs and plans. I am not super close with my teammates because of the language barrier, so I have made many friends outside of my fútbol circle who speak great English. I became really comfortable having conversations with new people in social environments and being the one to initiate meet-ups. I was very self-conscious at first because I thought that if people weren’t texting me to hang out that meant they didn’t want to see me. I’ve realized this is not true at all and people are just busy or feeling the exact same way about you! This opened my eyes to know there’s no harm in reaching out to others.
  4. Self-Awareness: I have always been a “go with the flow” type of girl and am pretty indecisive when it comes to making decisions. I mainly do what the group wants and am typically content with it! I like to make others happy and that determines my decision-making. But now that I am living alone, I don’t have an immediate group to lean on for decisions. So every decision I make (outside of fútbol) is for myself. This was a challenge because, in the beginning, I really didn’t know what I wanted. I spent a lot of time overthinking about what I should be doing instead of just doing something! Therefore, I’ve had to become very hyperaware of myself and my desires in order to change. I had to look inward and do things that I genuinely wanted to do or would make me happy. I’ve stopped thinking about what I should be doing or what I think other people think I should do. I care less now what others think of me and do what makes me genuinely happy. If I want to go on an adventure, I’m going to do it even if no one else can join me and the people here think I’m crazy for it. If I want to see friends, I will reach out to them even if they didn’t text me first. If I’m feeling tired, I will cancel plans or head home early and not feel guilty for it. Basically, everything I do is for myself now and what I truly want at a specific time. I’ve learned to listen to myself and honor my feelings. I’m still the “go with the flow girl”, but now I know when I want to change direction and standstill.
  5. Breaking and Creating Habits: to elaborate on my previous point on becoming hyperaware, this also helped me to break bad habits and form new and better ones. Being alone a lot of the time could have heightened my bad habits because there is no one here to keep me in check. Luckily, my time alone forced me to internalize and deeply question why I do certain things, which helped me break these habits instead. And on the flip side, this new self-awareness has highlighted who I want to become and where I want to grow which influenced me to create new and better habits. I have a lot of free time here, so I decided I needed to make this free time beneficial. These new habits and routines help fill my day and aim to make me grow. Obviously, I’m not perfect and revert to my old habits at times, but now I’m way more disciplined and can get back on track faster.

I hope this gives a little insight into some of the ways living alone can become a positive experience! Thanks for taking the time to read, everyone! If any of you have lived alone, I’d love to hear what you learned from that experience or some of the challenges you faced. Feel free to comment below or email me. Peace and Love!

How to Start Learning a New Language when Playing Abroad

One of the many challenges (but also beautiful aspects) of playing in a foreign country is learning a different language. Never would I have imagined that I would be learning Serbian in my lifetime, but here I am now with a Serbian vocabulary of about 500 words and slowly starting to piece together small sentences!

As a professional player, learning how to communicate on the field is the first priority and is completely necessary in order to quickly adapt to a new team. If you cannot communicate with your teammates/coaches or understand what they are saying, then your playtime and overall experience are at risk. The first couple of weeks of playing in a new country are very intimidating because you must adapt to a new country, style of play, team culture, and completely different language. You really have to go in with an open mind, willingness to learn, and a positive attitude.

I have been so fortunate that most people in the world speak English, but even with that, it is necessary to learn the basics of the country’s language. Learning at least the basics will help you on and off the field, and make the new country feel more at home. In addition, people really appreciate you trying to speak their countries’ native language. Just trying shows that you care and want to make an effort. People really respect that and in my experience, it has helped me form deeper connections with people even if we cannot fully understand each other.

In Serbia, half my teammates speak English, while the other half do not. Being in this environment has pushed me outside my comfort zone. I’ll be honest, I can barely speak Serbian but I know enough that I am able to communicate on the field, understand the general idea of what my coaches/teammates are saying, and get by while living and traveling in Serbia (like communicating with the taxi drivers, ordering at restaurants, day to day interactions etc…).

So in the post, I will be sharing how I’ve started learning Serbian and the order in which I did so. I’ll also be giving tips and resource tools for what has helped me learn Serbian on and off the field! I hope this helps any athletes who are interested in playing overseas gain a better idea of what is important to learn first and make learning a new language seem a little less intimidating.

Willingness and Wanting to learn: this is the first thing you must have in order to learn a new language. You have to put in the work, a new language is not going to come to you without trying. Not being afraid to make mistakes or sound funny is also key.

Greetings/Basics: Learning how to say: hello, goodbye, how are you?, please, thank you, I don’t speak _(insert language)__, and do you speak English?. These are the most important and most used words/phrases you will use every day, on and off the field. Dialing down how to say these before you leave for your trip is really helpful and easy. These words/phrases just take a quick google search!

Futbol Commands: My first week of training I learned the basic commands on the field: left, right, man-on, alone/time, up, and down. These are the words I decided to learn first because as a central defender, I use them the most. However, depending on your position and team, you will have to figure it out for yourself. Phrases and words used on the field are tricky because they are impossible to google beforehand because each country has its own lingo. For example, to tell your teammate there is an opposing player near them, “man-on” is said in the U.S., while in Spain they say “cuidado”, meaning careful, and in Serbia, they say “leda”, which translates to back.

To learn these words, I asked my teammates and coaches to type them into a notes page on my phone. Next to the Serbian word and its English translation, I spelled it the way it sounded to me because the Serbian alphabet and pronunciations are very different than English. Being observant and paying close attention to what your teammates and coaches are saying is super important. Throughout the weeks of playing, I started catching on to more words and phrases my teammates/coaches were saying, so I had my teammates also write those down for me and practiced them.

Alphabet: Learning the alphabet and correctly pronouncing its letters is an important step in learning the language because that allows you to be able to read and sound words out. The Serbian language uses 2 alphabets equally: Cyrillic and Latin. I have figured out the Latin alphabet, but not the Cyrillic. In my own notebook, I made 3 columns and wrote down the Latin alphabet letters in one column, in the next column I wrote how they sounded in English, and in the last column, I wrote a Serbian word that used that letter (and it’s meaning). I looked over this a couple times a week, practicing the sounds aloud until I finally got it down. Once I was able to learn the Latin alphabet, it gave me a great base to learn more and at a faster rate.

Cussing: Curse words are always something that people are excited to teach you lol! I wouldn’t say they are necessary to know, and it wasn’t my plan to learn these first, but it’s part of the experience! One of the first things new Serbian people ask me when I tell them I live here is, “do you know Serbian curse words?”. And they always get a lot of enjoyment out of hearing me saying all the cuss words I’ve learned. So cursing is something I learned very early on and have the pleasure of understanding. Hearing it on the streets and on the field gives me a greater idea of everyone’s true emotions! So, I’m going to end this section by saying… Piška ti materina <3.

Numbers, Colors, Days of the Week: learning these topics is crucial for playing and navigating the world. On the pitch, numbers, colors, and days of the week are used every day to describe practice drills, communicate who’s number you’re marking, give important information for schedules (games/practice times), … the list goes on. Of course, if you do not understand, coaches and teammates will translate for you. But it makes life easier and the practice flow smoother if you do learn these. What helped me learn these was breaking them up in sections by weeks to slowly learn them. So the first week I memorized the numbers, the next week I learned colors, and the following week I learned the days of the week.

Food: Learning the foods in Serbian has been one of my favorite parts of learning the language! Being able to read a menu and know what I’m actually ordering is so empowering. Food is one of my favorite things in the world and a huge part of the Serbian culture, so being able to be a part of a conversation surrounding food has been important to me. I also spend most of my meals with my teammates so asking them what traditional foods we are eating has been a good way for me to connect with my teammates who do not speak English.

Small words and Question starters: And, but, or, good, bad… and Who, What, Where, When, How, Why?: to start piecing together what people are saying or very simply ask a question, these are the necessary basics. It’s super helpful because you can point to something and simply say Šta? (“what” in Serbian) and begin communicating that way.

17 Minute Language: Once I had a base of the language, I decided I needed a little more help in order to continue learning Serbian. The unfortunate thing about the Serbian language is that most of the free apps, like Duolingo, do not have Serbian. So I had to look elsewhere for help. I found an online website called “17 Minute Language” which is essentially like a more advanced Duolingo that has about 100 different languages you can learn from it. You do the course on your own time and schedule and its catch is if you practice just “17 minutes a day” you can become conversationally fluent in your desired language in a few months. It’s not free, but I decided it was worth it to buy the course. I actually bought access to all of the language courses the site offers which gave me access to every language course, from French to Albanian, whenever I want for the next 10 years. I thought it was a good investment because who knows where I’ll be next few years and what language I’ll need to start learning. So the next bullet points are what I have learned through the help of this online platform.

  • Verbs: In Serbian, you have to conjugate each verb like in Spanish. So, it takes a while to learn these and get the hang of them. The course started with the most basic verbs of “to be”, “to go”, and “to have”, and how to conjugate them.
  • Small/Filler words: the small words like for, but, with, and, to, from… don’t get a lot of love until you begin learning a new language. Then you realize how important they are in language. Knowing these small words further helps in formulating small sentences.
  • Vocabulary: 17 Minute Languages provides vocabulary on many different topics that is useful in everyday life. The Vocabulary is broken into sections like food, travel, family… so it is easier to learn.

Important Learning Tools and Resources

  1. PEOPLE: learning from teammates, coaches, and friends, has been the most important and informative because they are the best teachers! They have helped me learn the correct fútbol terms, important slang, and food. It’s also a good bonding moment learning from the locals because they love when you show interest and genuinely want you to learn. They also get a good laugh at you incorrectly pronouncing everything.
  2. Notebook: I am someone that has to write things down in order to learn them. There’s no way a teammate could tell me a word or phrase during practice and at the end of practice, I’ll remember it. Some people work that way, but unfortunately, I do not. So everything I learn or hear, I write down in my notebook or notes page on my phone. That way I can always look over it and practice it until I have it down.
  3. Travel Book: Getting a travel book that has the basics of the language is so so useful. This really jump-started my Serbian learning, because the back pages of my Serbian travel book showed me the Serbian alphabet and gave me the most important words/phrases to know. It’s how I learned the colors, numbers, days of the week, foods, greetings, and important phrases. It also gives a lot of other cool travel information on the country!
  4. 17 minute language: The course mainly helps with vocabulary and verbs. It’s essentially like a big flashcard game where they show you pictures or the English words and you have to say the Serbian word. It then gives you tables on how to conjugate certain verbs. I recommend if you want to learn a new language fluently, to take a class with a teacher. 17-minute language is good if you just want to get by or want to keep up with a certain language.
  5. YouTube: watching youtube videos on the Serbian alphabet helped me correctly pronounce and hear the words.
  6. Google Translate: To whoever invented Google Translate… I love you and thank you! I have been able to hang out with my teammates who do not know English with the help of google translate. It’s such a funny experience. We will literally type out paragraphs for what we want to say in google translate and they will try and recite it in English then I will type my answer and try to reply in Serbian. The translations are sometimes funky but it works! I would not be able to have these experiences with my non-English speaking teammates without Google Translate.

Thanks for reading everyone! I hope ya’ll found this useful if you are trying to learn a new language or found it at least a little interesting. Subscribe to my blog for more content and I’ll be posting more soon!

Serbia Update

When I think about my Serbian experience, the first word that pops into my mind is: unexpected. Unexpected in the best way. I have done so many things here that I never would have imagined that I would do. I did not expect to have a bad experience here, but I also did not expect to have as cool of an experience as I’ve had.

When I found out a team from Serbia was interested in me, I didn’t know how to react because I didn’t know a single thing about Serbia! I couldn’t even tell you where its general location is on a map. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. It was such a sudden decision to play here that I didn’t have much time to research Serbia or even have time to process what was happening. Despite my lack of knowledge of Serbia, I was on a plane two weeks later to start my adventure. And holy smokes am I happy I decided to come to Serbia because it has totally surprised me.

Like my experience in Spain, my time in Serbia has been so much more than just playing fútbol. I have created incredible friends, experienced a very different culture and language, and have really built a second life out here.

In this blog post, I will be sharing some of my favorite memories and activities I’ve done in the past 4 months in Serbia! It has been an absolute blast and I can’t wait to share more that comes along the way.


Niš is the city in Serbia that has quickly become my home. It is the third-largest city in Serbia but it is still quite small. This is perfect because everything is walking/bike riding distance away. Even though Niš is a city, there is still a lot of nature in the city and surrounding it. There is a river called the Nišava that runs through the city which is very beautiful to walk by during the summer months. There’s also a ton of trees and big parks that add a pop of green against the tan and brick apartment buildings. On the outskirts of Niš, there are pretty blue mountains that make for a great city background and old villages with lots of farmland and vineyards. Niš has the perfect ratio of city and nature.

My life here is so simple and peaceful. My days include going on long walks and bike rides along the Nišava river and Niš Fortress, meeting up with friends for coffee, writing and reading at different cozy cafes, exploring the outdoor markets to buy fresh produce, doing photoshoots, watching fútbol games on tv, and of course… playing a lot of fútbol!

This is my first time living in a place that does not have an ocean or sea near. I was worried I was going to be depressed living here because I love the beach so much. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself when I had free time if I couldn’t go to the beach. Thankfully this has not been the case! I have started appreciating different things, finding new hobbies, and learning that I can make my own happiness wherever I go. I don’t need specific settings or activities to ensure my well-being. Although I do miss the ocean, I can absolutely say that I am very content living in Niš.

The People

Serbians are the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met. They are full of life and passionate. They love to sing, dance, talk, and celebrate any and every occasion. They love to share their culture and traditions with people who are not from their country. They are also impeccable hosts and know how to make visitors feel taken care of.

One of the unexpected things to happen was making so many friends outside of my fútbol team. Typically when you are on a team, especially when you’re so far away from home, your teammates are your only friends. This definitely has not been the case in Serbia. I am so grateful that I have a good relationship with my teammates, but have also branched out and made so many friendships outside of my team.

I can’t even trace back to exactly how I have met all these people whom I have become close with. But typically this is how it works: I meet someone for the first time–> very soon after I am getting coffee with them–> the friendship blossoms–> I’m introduced to their friends–> then the same cycle continues!

I have always been good at getting along with everyone, but I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who is extremely outgoing or extroverted to be able to make new friends immediately. However, making friends in Serbia has been so easy because the people here are so damn nice. Being in Serbia and meeting all these new people has really changed my mindset and has made me become more outgoing and comfortable engaging with new people.

Forming these friendships has been so important to me since Leslie, Kim, and Jazz (the other Americans on the team) did not return to Serbia after Christmas break. I am now the only American and live alone which has made this experience so much different. I miss having them here, but my Serbian friends have kept me from being homesick and lonely. I have had such a fun time with my new friends going out for coffee, drinks, and dancing at our favorite club called “Feedback”. It’s really been them that have made this experience so incredible.

My birthday

I’m the type of person that doesn’t care too much about their birthday. I never plan anything big for myself and don’t particularly like being the center of attention. I just like to hang around good company and eat delicious food.

Despite my lackluster enthusiasm for birthdays, my birthdays spent abroad have been absolutely over the top. I had an epic birthday in Spain and I thought nothing could ever come close to that. However, my Serbian birthday definitely reached the Spain level of awesomeness.

My birthday festivities started after we got home from practice on a Wednesday night. Leslie, Kim, Anja, and Jazz took me out to eat at this amazing restaurant called Cafe Bravado. We ate so much food and drank good wine. I was perfectly content with ending my birthday celebrations there, but they had way more in store for me. After the restaurant, we walked back to our apartment and I opened the door to a massive surprise party. My teammates, non-fútbol friends, and a group of friends that I had only met briefly the weekend before all surprised me (about 25 people!). Some of the people who I had only met the weekend before, I couldn’t even remember their names, and yet they were there at my birthday party (now they are some of my closest friends here)! I was so freaking surprised. We played music, danced, drank, and sang the rest of the night. It was a night I will not forget; I felt so incredibly loved. It was definitely an unexpectedly-amazing memory in Serbia.


Next up on the list of unexpected things: Jazz, Kim, Leslie, and I became cat moms for about 2 months! This little journey began one day when I was rushing out of the house because our ride for practice was outside when I almost stepped on this tiny gray creature. I screamed because I thought it was a rat, but with a closer look, I realized that it was a baby stray kitten. Because Leslie and I were already late, we quickly decided to leave an old shoebox with a pair of gross shorts in it outside our apartment for the kitten to shelter in. We felt bad for the poor thing since it was freezing cold outside! 4 hours later when we returned after training, the kitten was in our makeshift box. After about an hour of back and forth thinking, we decided to keep the kitten because we just didn’t have the heart to leave it in the cold to die. We knew we were leaving for the U.S. in 2 months but decided we would cross that bridge when we got there. So we gave it a bath, named it Benji, watched a couple youtube videos on how the hell to take care of a kitten, bought it food and a kitty litter, and took it to the vet the next day.

We loved having Benji as a kitten. He was such a love bug and the perfect companion to snuggle with while watching tv. As Benji grew a little older, he started becoming a little problem with a mind of his own. There was no training him, he ran the house. So we decided that because we were leaving for the U.S. and our lack of ability to discipline him, it was best if we gave him up for adoption. We found a couple through Instagram that wanted him and so we said our last goodbyes to him right before we left for the holidays. It was a fun run with him but I don’t think I’ll be a kitten mom anytime soon.

Becoming a “Model”

Probably the most unexpected thing to happen while being in Serbia is becoming a stock model for Getty Images. It started because my friend Dek who is a stock model invited me to do a shoot with him. I was so thrown off by this offer because I am someone who has never loved being in front of the camera. I take selfies as a joke and have always made fun of the “influencer” type. So this was totally out of my comfort zone. However, I decided to take him up on his offer because f**k it why not?! I am so happy I did because now I am doing shoots at least twice a week which has been a great source of extra side cash and has actually been really fun. Each shoot is a different theme but they all encompass “a day in the life”. When Leslie was here, we had so much fun modeling with each other. We did a shoot where we pretended to be a couple moving into a home together and another where we made and ate blueberry pancakes. I have also become friends with the photographers Stefan and Slava, so most of the shoots also involve us joking around and them laughing at me as they try to talk to me in Serbian. Let me tell ya, this is the most fun and easiest side hustle I’ve ever had.

Jazz festival

Every year in August, Niš hosts a festival in the Niš Fortress called the Jazz Festival. The festival is three days long and is relatively big. People come from all over come to see Jazz musicians and musicians of different backgrounds perform. Leslie, Kim, Jazz, and I went to the festival with our Serbian friends Anja, Kika, and Irene. It was one of my favorite memories ever. We saw Goran Bregović perform and it was incredible. We danced crazily the entire night, jumping up on our seats and screaming the lyrics to his famous song “Bella Ciao”. The energy there was contagious and the vibe around the whole city is something different during the Jazz Festival. Everyone who lives in Niš says this is their favorite time of the year. Going to the Jazz festival was the perfect start to my Serbian adventure and something I won’t forget.



One weekend Leslie, Jazz, Kim, and I took the bus to Belgrade where we stayed at the 360 Hostel, located in the heart of the city. Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia where you’re engulfed in the big European city feel. We had so much fun there, visiting the Belgrade fortress and Kalemegdan park, tanning at the Ada Caganlija river island, shopping around Skadarska street, eating incredible food, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, and riding bikes along the Sava riverfront. Leslie and I also made friends with other travelers living in the hostel, so we went to a party with them on Saturday night. It was such a fun weekend exploring and meeting new people. It definitely made me crave adventure and the desire to explore Serbia more.

Novi Sad

I went on my first solo trip to Novi Sad which is the second-largest city. Novi Sad is incredibly beautiful with pastel buildings, tall point churches, monuments, and impressive graffiti wall drawings. I toured the Petrovaradin fortress and had lunch there with a breathtaking view of the river and city; visited a tapestry museum called Atelje 61 where women hand make these amazing tapestries by hand; walked to all the monuments, churches, and monasteries; and spent some quality time with myself lol. It was such a different experience traveling alone. I definitely wish someone was there with me, but I am happy I went anyway. It was a great learning experience and I know how to better prepare for future solo trips.

Kapoanik Mountain

After I returned from the United States, I went snowboarding at Kapoanik mountain in Serbia. It’s the biggest ski resort in Serbia (about 2 hours away from Niš) and the mountain was huge! I went with my coach, her friend, and her niece. I have become good friends with my coach’s niece, Anja, and she has been incredible with introducing me to new people and taking me to do fun activities. We stayed 2 nights in an apartment right on the mountain and snowboarded/skied one day. It was a blast and I’m so happy I was able to check out the Serbian slopes!

Strumica, Macedonia

My team traveled to Strumica, Macedonia to play in a friendly game against a team called Tiverija. Strumica is a pretty city with wide streets and lush green mountains hugging the city background. It was a short trip as we spent 1 night and a day and a half there. Before our game, we were able to walk around the city, see the monuments in the city square, and take pictures. Although Strumica was very similar to Serbia, it was still nice to check out the new city and stretch our legs. Overall it was a really good trip and we ended up tying Tiverija 1 to 1.

The first half of my Serbian adventure has been so much fun. I hope the next 5 months bring more unexpected surprises, new experiences, traveling, and personal growth. Can’t wait to update y’all about my future endeavors. Until next time… Ciao!

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!