For Emma Mitchell, 2013 has been a year of adaptation.
The young defender made the decision to leave her native Scotland when she joined German Frauen-Bundesliga team SGS Essen from Glasgow City in January.
Eleven appearances and six months later, Mitchell was on the move again, joining Arsenal after Shelley Kerr swooped to make the defender her joint-first signing, along with compatriot Caroline Weir, as Ladies boss.
Mitchell was thrown into Women's Super League action, making her debut against Liverpool at the start of August. She is still learning the left-back role she currently occupies, but has started her Arsenal career in an assured manner, producing a series of solid and dependable displays.
Mitchell sat down with Arsenal.com recently to discuss her hectic year, why she decided to join the Club and her first impressions of life at Arsenal Ladies.
Emma, how are you settling in to life at Arsenal?
The girls have been really nice. It feels like I've been here for ages even though I haven't. Everybody seems to be friends and have been really welcoming and nice.
"I didn't feel pressure when I came here. I knew that I was moving to a big club that expects to win every game but my focus was just on playing"
Does that surprise you slightly, with the pressure on the Club to be successful?
Everybody has the hunger to win. That's important to win if you're going to be at the Club. Everybody has the same goals. I didn't feel pressure when I came here. I knew that I was moving to a big club that expects to win every game but my focus was just on playing.
So are you feeling settled now?
Yeah definitely. I think knowing Shelley has helped as well. I knew her before and I know how she works. I know I can always go and speak to her. I felt more comfortable signing because I knew her before. I know Kim too. It helps when there are a few faces around the place that you already know.
You joined the Club at the same time as Caroline Weir. Has that helped you to settle in at all? Are you living together?
Yeah, we've got a flat in London Colney. It's been good joining at the same time as her. We're the two newbies and when you come into a different team, you're going into the unknown so it's easier if you have someone in the same position as you. It's always good to have that comfort blanket.
Not really. Caroline is a couple of years younger than me and we were never involved at under-19 level. It's only been recently when she was involved with the national team that we've met each other. She went to Iceland and Germany with Scotland but I knew her situation about coming to England. I only really met her and got the chance to speak to her at the airport when we were coming here. I've known her for a couple of months, the same amount of time as the rest of the girls.
You've had to move from Scotland to Germany and then to London all in the space of a year. Are you enjoying life here?
London is good. There's always stuff to do. You can always get the tube or whatever train into the centre of town. My family can come down too. That was something I really missed when I was in Germany. It was harder for them to get time off work and come down then whereas now they can drive down or get a train or flight for the weekend and they don't have to miss work. It's a lot easier in terms of seeing there. London is pretty cool. I haven't had much time to see many of the sights but I'm sure there will be more time.
It must have been quite a challenge to live in Germany on your own. How did you find it?
When I left Glasgow City, I needed a new challenge. One of my friends had gone out to Germany and I wanted to give it a go too. One thing I learnt when I was out there was that there is a big gap between the top teams and the mid-table teams that I played for. At Essen, I was the only English-speaking player and the language barrier was massive. There were girls there that spoke good English and were really welcoming and then there were girls that knew no English whatsoever. The first couple of weeks were difficult and it didn't help that I was away with the national team a lot. I went to the United States so I would be away for three or four weeks at a time. I was there for a solid eight or nine weeks when I didn't have international commitments and that's when I started to enjoy it the most. I'm really glad I went and experienced playing and living in Germany.
"I think it's good for me and my development to find a position that I can properly focus on and nail down"
Arsenal Ladies have started the second half of the season really positively. How do you feel you've performed?
Good I think. I've started most of the games and I've felt as though I've been here for longer than I have. Maybe that's because the girls have made me feel comfortable. I don't go out onto the park feeling nervous. I'm quite confident in what I'm going to be doing and I know that if I do my job, the rest can take of itself with the quality players we have in the squad. I think I've been solid but I just have to keep focusing.
You have primarily featured as a left back so far. Do you want to make that position yours?
I've always been a versatile player. I played in central midfield at under-19 level and at full back with the national team. I've been used on the left wing and, when I was in Germany, I played as a striker to run in behind. I think it's good for me and my development to find a position that I can properly focus on and nail down, rather than being alright in a few positions. Because I've never really played left back, it is quite new for me and I know that I'll make mistakes. It's about learning from them though, developing and becoming a better player. I'm quite excited to be playing there. I know the competition is good in this team so I need to keep working hard.
There's plenty of experience in the Arsenal defence. That must help when you are learning a new position.
It definitely helps. They are really experienced players. Emma is really vocal in goal and she helps me positionally. I'm pretty weak because I've never played there so I sometimes don't know if I'm too far in or if I should go out. Emma really helps. Ciara, Yvonne and Gilly - who is really experienced at a young age - help too. Their help on the park makes me feel confident, knowing that they are there to support me.
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