Ranch reflection – Softball in Italy the trip of a lifetime

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Ranch Reflections are articles written by students who want to share their experiences, thoughts, and concerns. This is a great opportunity for students to branch out beyond traditional news stories.  This edition features junior Rachel Monroe’s softball trip to Italy.

Rachel Monroe – Mustangs Ahead

Reflections icon (2)(LAKEWOOD RANCH FL.) – In the fall of 2018, I got a call from a company named “America’s Team” inviting me to play softball in Italy. They informed me that their company partners with American Council for International Studies (ACIS) to send the best athletes to foreign countries for a weeklong trip while providing educational tours and sports games.

At first, I was astonished that I was given such an opportunity. It seemed unreal. After a lot of fundraising, the cost came down enough price that I was able to commit to the trip of a lifetime.

Leading up to the trip there was a lot to think about, including change of currency, a different time zone, traveling overseas with a team of athletes I’ve never met, etc.

rachel monroe in italy 2019
The author ready to take a swing in Italy.

On the day of the trip I woke up excited and nervous for the long day of traveling ahead of me.  At the airport, I anxiously awaited my two-hour flight to Newark followed by a nine-hour flight to Rome.

Once we arrived in Rome, the biggest adjustment for me was the change of currency. In Italy, there is no tax on products.

Since the team traveled to popular tourist cities, workers at restaurants and shops often spoke basic English, at least enough to get you to buy something.

Typically, Italians eat a light pastry with a coffee for breakfast. For lunch they enjoy a sandwich from a local “farmers market” with fruit. Typical dinner is a three-course meal consisting of first course pasta, second course meat and vegetable, followed by a classic dessert. It took a few days to adjust to this eating schedule as it is a lot different for Americans.

The further North in Italy we went, the better our opponents got. We went to three cities including Rome, Montecatini, and Milan. In each city, we played double headers against their local club team. After each doubleheader, we got the opportunity to eat with the team we just played and get to know them better.

A game I will never forget from the trip was pitching to the reigning European champions and winning by a score of 10-1. I was so proud of the team, especially being that we had never played together or even met each other before the trip.

This experience was life changing. To experience a totally different culture while playing the sport I love was a dream come true.

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