I should start by admitting I’m writing this article while watching the movie “Taken”. If you are playing abroad, you’ve seen this movie. This cinematic experience is near and dear to my heart because I remember the distinct sinking feeling when I first signed my contract to go play overseas – big Bill was not Liam Neilson and he definitely did not have those types of skills.
Did I mention I had signed to go play in SWITZERLAND? Yup, cue eye roll (Don’t worry, I’m now over that irrational fear)
You can’t help but feel blind leaving home for a new abode across the Atlantic. I feel like that’s a natural step in the process. However, I believe that also led me into a more sensitive type of mindset… which now leads me into my most embarrassing story of my (Switzerland) life.
I’m not sure what all of your showering policies were in college, but in my program, we went to practice and went home to shower. Played a game, went home to shower. Lifted weights, maybe went to shower, but probably went to class depending on fall or spring sessions. Boy, were me and the other American – Brooke Delano – in for a rude awakening.
Being the first two always ready ahead of time, our German coach had occasionally dropped light-hearted comments about us not showering. Conversations we maybe didn’t 100% understand, but nevertheless ended up in smiles and laughter (ergo, light-hearted). Imagine our surprise when after one particular practice, our coach made us ride with him to the restaurant… and started yelling. German yelling. About showering. And fines. And basic hygiene. And fines. And to tell him “this isn’t the American way, surely not, I will forever change my mindset about American culture”. And more fines.
I was so livid about the whole ordeal, I was ready to throw in my (non-used) towel. Any one of you who know Brookie D are welcome to ask her about how ridiculously and obnoxiously upset I was. For a good couple of weeks. Now, in my defense, it came to be known that everyone in the locker room felt free to discuss this issue in front of us… only it was in German. Also, I was skeptical of his lack of fondness for me due to an (incredibly funny) “back to back world war champs” comment early on in the season. Regardless, I’m human, and consequently also a girl, so I’m pretty sure that at least SOME of you can relate that this would be hurtful. At least the thought of that makes me feel better about my overreaction.
From the stories that I’ve heard, we all run into these situations overseas that we can choose to either laugh off and chalk it up to culture differences, or get upset and obsess about the next flight home. Even veterans who have made a career traveling overseas, it’s a choice to make every time you face a challenge. I considered writing the “5 things I’ve learned from playing abroad”, but this is the only real theme that made my experience so much… Better? Smoother? Easier? To just accept when something different or uncomfortable is expected of you, and not fight it so hard.
Or to shower after every team meeting, just to be safe.