Playing in a new country, for a new team, and in new city each year can be fun and an exciting new adventure, but feeling like you don’t have a place to really call “home” is not. Nothing is worse than “halfway” living in an apartment, suitcases and bags never fully unpacked, because you know your time is going to be up in 6-8 months. On top of that you’re telling yourself “why invest in a rug, a new set of dishes, or this and that if I am just going to have to leave it all behind?” All though this is true and financially is smart, investing in a few things that you may end up leaving behind may do wonders on your mental health and make the hard days seem easier.
We asked a few athletes how they made/make their apartment feel more at home when playing overseas and we collaborated on a few ideas that you can do before coming overseas and a few that you can act upon when arriving to your new home.
Before you go:
1. Print CVS/Walgreen pictures (send them from your computer or phone)
“Nothing is worse than staring at a blank and lifeless cinder-block wall in your room, but no fear, there is a simple solution! Print out photos of family, friends, pets, or your favorite place and put them everywhere. Photos will help remind you of home and keep the things you love visible.”
Decorate your fridge with pictures
American, Kayla, decorated her desk. Look how at home it looks.
Being able to print photos straight from your phone is best part about Walgreens and CVS photo service. Just go to Walgreens.com, make an account, select photos from Facebook, Instagram, phone album, twitter, and send to the nearest Walgreens to you.
2. Print your favorite instgram pictures from prinstagram
We recently did a post [here] about how much we love Printstagram and how easy they make it to print your favorite Instagram pictures. Countless sizes and formats to choose from.
American player, Alix Klineman, decorated her mirror with her Instagram pictures she printed via Prinstagram
3. Picture frames or digital picture frame
Put your favorite pictures in a nice picture frame to keep by your bed.
4. Pillow or pillow case from home
There is no better feeling than being able to lay your head down on a little piece of home and familiarity after a long day off traveling on the road or when you miss home.
Worried about a pillow taking up too much space in your suitcase? Use a large Ziploc zip bag (vacuum-less) to smush it down.
5. Favorite stuffed animal
Few will admit it, but brining their favorite stuffed animal from home makes them happier and their apartment homier.
6. Inspirational quotes to hang
Pre-print some of your favorite quotes to hang by your bed, mirror, and on your fridge. An inspirational/motivational quote/friendly reminder of why your there goes a long way when playing and living overseas.
7. Cute calendar
Start your day with a cuddly puppy or count down to the next time you’ll have a visitor, visit home, or a holiday with a precious kitten.
Think your pets the cutest? Easily design your own calendar at walgreens or CVS with your own pets or family members.
8. Wall decals
Depending on where you are, the winters can get cold and it’s nice being able to take off your cold and wet shoes and slip into some cozy slippers to walk around your apartment in. Fuzzy socks can do the trick too.
10. Decorate the house for holidays
Plan ahead for the holidays. Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines day, New Years Eve, and St. Patricks day. We miss A LOT of holidays when playing overseas and many countries and teammates don’t celebrate like you do.
Bring a little bit of holiday with you. You can even go as far as cooking a Thanksgiving like dinner for your foreign teammates and show them a few American traditions. Or even show them how to carve a pumpkin. Bring some halloween decorations to hang in the window or on the wall. These don’t have to be big and crazy, but a little goes a long way when your celebrating a holiday alone and in a foreign country.
11. Portable alarm clock
Bring it to each country you play in and dress up your bare bedside table. It’s also always nice to have a back up alarm so you’re not late to practice in case the main one fails. Cordless portable alarm clock is the way to go.
12. Your own bedspread
Not all countries do bedding the same way and it sucks to find out the hard way. It’s not always easy to find soft sheets or thick bedding when playing overseas.
Bringing sheets and your own pillow cases can make for a better sleep and can give you the homey feeling you’re really looking for. If you don’t have room for a small comforter then bring a duvet, a sheet that zips around the outside of any basic comforter.
Things to buy when you get there
1. Buying tupperware
Makes storing leftovers convenient.
2. Kitchen towel
Cheep kitchen towels, even though you may never use them, can be a perfect touch of homeyness to an empty kitchen.
4. Rug, lamps, and couch pillows
“A simple area rug not only makes a room feel homier, but it takes the shock out of the cold linoleum tiles on bare feet.”
5. Buy fresh flowers
You don’t have to do it everyday, but every now and then buy yourself and your apartment some fresh flowers.
You’ll be surprised at what a single candle can do to the atmosphere of an apartment. It changes the smell, the mood, and is super relaxing.