This year was my first year going professional with volleyball in France, and besides the obvious things like clothes, my passport, my Pac-Safe travel backpack, and a year’s supply of peanut butter, here are some things I won’t be leaving home without again!
1. A Little Bit of Home
I guess I didn’t realize that Canada was one of the few places in the world the produced maple syrup, and I found myself craving it all the time in France! Some homemade cookies to freeze, canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving, baking powder and brown sugar were also hard to find foods I will be sure to pack along next time I head across the pond.
2. Basic French Grammar Books
I was lucky because this year I was given an online license for the Rosetta Stone TotalE program in French which turned out to be a huge help! I also had picked up some grammar books. I made a point of studying a little French each night and practicing my French with my teammates on road trips. By November, I was able to communicate some of my more basic thoughts with the coffee lady, the baker, my coach, and my teammates. They were small parts of my day but it did make me feel a little more at home.
3. My Dual-Voltage Hair Straightener
Fun fact: Even if you use a 120-240 V USA to European electrical adapter, plugging in your North American hair straightener into an outlet in France will turn it into a pool of hot plastic. Who knew? I have resolved this issue with a new hair straightener with a built-in voltage adapter that works on both continents!
4. Whey Protein
When I’m in Canada, I eat a lot of cottage cheese and yogurt for snacks, but we didn’t have those in Poitiers. Taking whey protein with me took away the stress while I was trying to find some alternative protein sources. It also saved me the stress of trying to find reliable information on reputable protein and supplement companies that batch test for banned substances in their products… in French (this requires considerably more vocabulary that Rosetta Stone gives you). Make sure to bring sealed containers to get you through airport security quickly.
I was to arrive in France just a few days before my first league game, and I knew jetlag would be an issue. I try not to use it too often, but melatonin really helped me overcome the jetlag moving from Canada to France.