Posted by: Ashley Smith | May 27, 2009

International Kickball Club

As a returned education-abroad student, I’m constantly reminded of memories from my time overseas, but as time goes by, it seems like these memories are growing fewer and farther between.  Every once in a while, though, as I notice the date on a calendar, I catch myself wondering, “what was I doing this time last year?”  That happened this morning, and as I recalled the date in my mind, I was reminded of one of my favorite memories from Amsterdam: playing kickball.
It may seem strange that a school-yard game would stand out as such a fond memory from months in an incredible city like Amsterdam, but it was just one of those “moments.”  If you’ve ever studied abroad, you’ll probably understand what I mean.  Every once in a while, everything just seems to come together perfectly, and all the little frustrations of navigating a foreign envrionment fade away.  This was one of those days.  It was the end of the semester, and with finals looming and perhaps a bit of nostalgia for home creeping in, a couple of American students and I were looking for a release.   We invited friends– our British, French, and South African hall-mates who were keen to learn about our game.  There must have been about ten of us, a random collection of students drawn from across the world, with seemingly little in common, but bonded together through our months of living in this strange place.   We assembled on the lawn behind our dorm, and the space usually reserved for passionate football games became our own makeshift kickball field. 
The game lasted well into the evening, thanks to the 10 PM sunsets this time of year.  I can’t say that it went all that smoothly; there were the inevitable misunderstandings of rules, and even a few minor injuries.  My team ended up losing thanks to a last-minute scoring streak by our opponents.  Even so, it was one of those moments that seemed worthy of a picture in a study abroad catalogue.  I remember thinking, this is what it’s all about.  Trust me, I had plenty of learning experiences in museums and my host university’s classrooms.  But this afternoon spent sharing a piece of my American childhood with new friends was the kind of cultural exchange that I’ll remember the most. 
Not quite getting it...

Not quite getting it...


Taking over the football field
Taking over the football field
Team USA/England
Team USA/England
1, 2, 3: GAME FACE!
1, 2, 3: GAME FACE!


  1. I remember that day…sort of. I only made it half way through the game before my injuries knocked me out of the running completely, but it was one of the grand days of our time together. I’m glad you’re sharing it with others.

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