It hasn’t taken long for former Aberdeen Women defender Millie Urquhart to settle into life in the United States as the Ellon-raised talent reflects on her time at Jacksonville University.
Her football has already seen her travel across south of the US, with away games elsewhere in Florida, as well as in Kentucky, Georgia, South and North Carolina.
Moving to the other side of the world at such a young age was a daunting prospect for Urquhart, but she has embraced life across the Atlantic.
“I have surprisingly really enjoyed it,” she said. “Obviously, you miss your family and friends, but the way of life is just so different here.
“Just getting the experience is important. It is something that if I didn’t take the chance now then it might not have come round again.
“I’ve already met so many people who are friends for life. You can just walk down the hall and your friends are right there. You walk around campus and it is just like a mini-community.
“I love living next to the beach and there is always something to do when you’ve got a day off.
“I always find myself… Even when we’re just driving places and travelling to our games, I’m always the one looking out of the window and taking it all in.”
Missing British chocolate and Lucozade
There are, of course, things Urquhart misses about Scotland, admitting she sought out something in particular as soon as she stepped off the plane when she returned home for the Christmas break.
“I miss the food and the snacks a lot,” she added. “I don’t know how many times I have said to my mum that I just wanted some British chocolate!
“It’s one of the first things I said to her when she picked me up from the airport – I just really wanted a Lucozade and some chocolate.”
Urquhart played most minutes of any outfield player in first term
In her first season with Jacksonville – who are nicknamed the Dolphins – Urquhart has made quite the impression, racking up the most minutes of any outfield player on the roster.
She started 15 out of 18 games, the most of any freshman, and was one of only five players to feature in every division one match – the highest level of college football.
To hit the ground running so quickly was not something Urquhart anticipated, as she explained: “I didn’t really expect to play nearly as much as I did.
“When I went over, I felt like I did pretty well in the first few games – and the coach obviously thought so as well.
“We had a fair few challenges though as a team. We already had two goalkeepers out injured and then another gone, so our centre-back then had to play in goals.
“It meant I got more game-time. But then I felt I kept playing well and I earned the starts.”
SWPL and Aberdeen FC Women experience beneficial Stateside
Urquhart enjoyed a breakthrough season in the SWPL with Aberdeen last term, making 26 appearances – with 25 of those being starts – and scored two goals, both of which came in a match against Dundee United.
The teenager believes playing in the Scottish top-flight exposed her to experiences which have been an advantage while playing in America.
“Playing in the SWPL last season did really help me, because I was playing against and with older and more experienced players,” said Urquhart.
“I was able to learn more about the game and I had to adapt, because I was played in a few different positions.
“No team in the SWPL was the same and had a different style, so playing against that helped me understand the game much better for when I came across.
“I feel like my experience means I have a different outlook on the game and that helps us as a team because we all bring something different with our backgrounds.
“I was one of five or six international players this semester and I think you do notice that we have more of a style of play.
“We want to get the ball down and pass it, so I feel like I brought in some composure and a bit of technical ability.”
Education: Both academic and in football
In America, Urquhart has to balance a busy schedule of studies and football – which she plays six days a week, between training and match days on a Thursday and Saturday.
An exercise science student, Urquhart has been learning in the lecture hall… but also on the pitch.
“I do feel challenged here – and obviously last season, especially against teams like Rangers, Celtic and Glasgow City, there were fast players, but I feel like in America almost every striker I come up against is really fast,” added the defender.
“I have had to be able to adapt to play against players who are just as fast or are faster than me.
“That has helped me because I don’t feel like I rely on my speed as much as I used to.”
Singing One Direction hit for team initiation
Despite her busy academic and sports schedule, Urquhart has found the time to embrace the fun side of student life – like when she was tasked with a karaoke challenge during her team initiation.
“We did this thing called the Dolphin Olympics because our team name is the Dolphins,” explained the former Aberdeen defender.
“We got split into groups and one of the challenges was karaoke, but only the freshmen had to do that. It was the biggest point-gainer in the challenge.
“I ended up singing One Direction, and I really didn’t think that I would be doing that in one of my first weeks there, but it happened!
When asked how her rendition of What Makes You Beautiful went down, Urquhart said: “We won, so I must’ve done OK!”