(Soccer) Boots of Spanish Leather

Diego Rollan Joins the Junior Class from Gijon, Spain


Many of us, having attended Albuquerque Academy for several years, have adopted the Academy routine as if it were second nature. However, for Diego Rollán, the Spanish exchange student, our way of life could not be more different. After an interview with Diego (in which the phrase, “Well… it’s different,” was used more than ten times), it became obvious just how different the cities of Albuquerque and Gijon, Diego’s hometown in Spain, really are. 

In Spain, Rollán gets to school at 8:00, he has three classes until 11:00, and then a half-hour break. Afterward, he has three more classes and then goes home to eat lunch at 2:30. At Academy, on day 3, everyone with D1 classes complains when lunch begins at 12:43. Diego is taking five classes which means, on an average day, he has about four hours of actual class time out of the seven and a half hour day. In Spain, he is in class for six out of the six and a half hour day. Describing Academy life, Diego says, “I wake up at 6:40, I have breakfast, I come here, then soccer practice ends at 6, I come home, I have a shower, I have dinner, and then I do homework until I go to sleep.” He doesn’t mind it, however. “I’m not saying I don’t like it, but it’s completely different. We don’t usually have to work that much in Spain.” 

We spend a lot of time at school not actually in class, but in Spain, Diego tells me, “There’s no community at school. We just go there, study, and come back home.” As much as we hate to admit it, a large part of our life revolves around school. Soccer, being a large part of Diego’s life, naturally came up often during the interview. “In Spain, Soccer is a religion. Everybody likes soccer, plays soccer, supports a team… [but] there’s no way you can play soccer for your school,” he explains. Although the skill levels are more or less the same, the school soccer team, compared to his in Spain, is very different. Here we play a lot fewer games than Diego’s team in Spain, where they play 38 matches every season. 

Diego also plays the bagpipes in a pipe band, something typical to his city in Spain. He says his pipe band had to perform 30 to 40 times in the summer and travel to other countries, making it hard to hang out with friends over the summer.  

The first couple of days here at Academy were difficult, he says. “I was a bit discouraged because I didn’t know what people would think of me… The first day they were all looking at me and it was kind of stressful. But well, now I’m good and I’m getting used to the classes and the work.” In addition to the stress of a new school, he has to deal with homesickness and the language barrier, but as he said, he is getting used to things.