I received my first yellow card on December 2, 2017. It was a frigid Saturday morning in driving rain. St Antony’s College was playing Mansfield Road FC, Oxford’s best postgraduate football club. After a wind assisted goal kick from our end outstripped their defenders’ heads, I relentlessly charged after the ball in pursuit of my first goal. Their towering six-foot-four goalkeeper, noticing my tenacity and hunger, abandoned his post, took matters into his own hands, and pounced toward me. Before I knew it, I was on the ground; their pink fortress stood firmly on both feet. Hands were thrown in the air. Though I merely touched him, a sanctimonious British official carded me for “recklessly sliding” into the keeper. Although we drew in the end, we left fulfilled, and while I didn’t score, I lived to retell this rites of passage.
My Marshall experience has been challenging and amazing. On one hand, being overseas for the first time and away from both my family and community has been difficult. Growing up playing football in Mexico and Arizona, I’ve found solace in joining St Antony’s football club. My teammates have become a second family. Academically, my courses have been densely theoretical. Although I’m not a huge fan, wrestling with push-pull models and historical-structural frameworks have influenced my thinking about migration and how different countries attempt to control mobility. On the other hand, what I love about Oxford, and St Antony’s College in particular, is the teaching that happens outside the classroom. Represented by more than 80 countries, I truly believe that my college provides a once-in-a-lifetime cultural and intellectual learning environment. I am a more well-rounded individual because of the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had over a pint(s), coffee, or tea.
Despite the weird, and as some would describe prehistoric, traditions that make Oxford “Oxford,” I’ve spilled too much blood to be called an outsider (British sarcasm). In all honesty, there is something about dressing in a subfusc that makes you feel in touch with the past. It makes me think about all the individuals who have worn the same garments and my history as the first person in my family to graduate from college. When I show my family pictures, they often can’t believe I’m required to wear a suit while I sit exams or where I sit to prepare for them. Oxford is home to beautiful libraries, where I spend more time than I’d hope. By making the quiet places home, I’ve discovered that amongst all of the chaos, order can be found.
The absolute best part of my experience has been befriending the locals and getting to know their stories. I’ve met people like Vinny who immigrated from Algeria to learn English and start a business, as well as Claudia, an Albanian woman who moved to the UK to cut hair. Their experiences are what make mine unique and always keep me grounded. I’m excited to stay at Oxford for another year to continue engaging in its day-to-day life. And while I’m not enthusiastic about more theory, I’m thrilled about the memories I’ll continue to make with my football lads.