By Carol Stiffler

Lakefield native Nathan Magnusson got on a flight in January of 2022 headed to Spain for a marketing internship with the professional soccer team Villareal CF.

Excited about the opportunity, which dovetails with his career goals, he took no heed of the fact that he doesn’t speak Spanish. It didn’t even occur to him until mid flight, but he didn’t panic. He was focused on getting an early taste of the sort of work he hopes to do for a living.

Magnusson, a 2018 Newberry High School graduate, is a senior at Central Michigan University. He’s been overseas since January and now speaks a serviceable amount of Spanish – enough to get by. He is living in Valencia, Spain, while working in nearby Villarreal, and taking public transportation everywhere he goes.

“It feels like a dream sometimes,” Magnusson said. “Sometimes I have to look around and realize where I am. Walking down the streets, everyone speaking Spanish. Sometimes you forget that you’re here, and you have to stop and look around, and realize where you are.”

Magnusson is earning cultural credits, though not attending class while he’s abroad. He will return home in April, walk with his CMU class in May, then finish up a couple courses over the summer to officially obtain his diploma.

Magnusson, who played football, basketball, and wrestled while at NHS, loves sports. In Spain he got a good look at how soccer-crazed Europe is, and how regional American football really is.

“Over here it’s almost a running joke,” Magnusson said. “When I first got here and the NFL playoffs were going, not many people cared. I thought, ‘Oh man, this doesn’t feel right.’”

He’s knee-deep in the soccer lifestyle these days, and says fans there are even more intense about soccer than Americans are about football.

“It’s hard to put it into words until you get here and see it firsthand,” Magnusson said. “There’s so many elements of the culture that are directly tied into soccer.”

Magnusson is also adjusting to the kind of lifestyle that requires an afternoon siesta – a nap. “Nobody is awake in the morning. Everybody likes to sleep in,” he said. “I started napping a lot more since coming over here. They’re up until 4-5-6 a.m. If I don’t sleep in the middle of the day, I’m never going to make it.”

He’s not planning to keep that lifestyle once he’s back in the states.

He is, though, seeing as much of Europe as he can while he’s there. Magnusson has taken trips to Barcelona and Grenada in Spain, Milan and Lake Como in Italy, London, Portugal, and Ibiza. He admires the architecture, which dates back thousands of years in places.

Magnusson has become a fan of paella, a traditional Spanish dish with rice, tomatoes, and chicken or seafood.

“My favorite one is black rice paella,” he said. “It’s rice, seafood, and it’s covered in squid ink.”

Squid ink is milder than it sounds, he said, though difficult to describe.

His time in Spain is drawing to a close, and Magnusson is looking up marketing opportunities at professional sports teams across the states. He’s not picky – he’d just like to get his foot in the door.

This experience should help him land a sports marketing job somewhere, and Magnusson strongly recommends the study abroad experience to other students.

“I would just tell them it’s worth it,” he said. “As long as you come with an open mind and want to dive deep into it, you’re going to be rewarded for it.”