April 26, 2011

Au Revoir Switzerland…Hello USA

Me @ Mont Saint Michel w/ Quicksand!
 Tomorrow’s the big day; I’m heading back to the good ol’ US of A!!! Gosh, thinking back to my first blog posts I feel like I’ve gone completely full circle– I’m sad to be leaving where I am, but also looking forward to going where I’m going.

I was fortunate enough to spend my last four days here with my teammates up in Bretagne France, seeing the local sights and celebrating my coach’s 30th birthday. We visited the town of Morlaix, walked along the coast of Finistere, marveled at Mont Saint Michel (which has quicksand around it– SO COOL), and sat on the beaches of Saint Malo. The places we got to see were so beautiful and well, European. I’m really going to miss it here.

At the same time…

Beach @ Saint Malo
While we were walking along the coast of Finistere, one of my teammates asked if we had anything like that in the USA. I couldn’t help but think of a hike I went on a couple of summers ago in Maine, which led out to the ocean. I remember thinking then how beautiful America was, and realized how in a few short days, I’d be heading home. Every time I see a place that’s calm and soothing, like the coast of France for example, I try to take a little piece of that silence, wholeness, and peace of mind with me when I leave. This year Europe has filled me with that kind of peace, and I’m so grateful it has, but now I feel like I’m ready to go home.

That being said…

My favorite part of the trip was really just talking and hanging out with my teammates. I think I learned more French in these past four days than I learned all year. Sure, I had to actively listen to understand what they were talking about (and sometimes I just zoned out and turned off my ‘pay attention’ button), but by the end of the trip I felt like I had successfully communicated with each and every one of them. Saying my goodbyes was really difficult; I feel like my Swiss teammates really embraced me this year. I don’t think I could have handpicked a better group of girls to spend my first year away from home and in a foreign country with.

My Swiss Team <3
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m having really mixed emotions about leaving. Part of me wants to cry, but the other part is so excited because I know that tomorrow I’m going to be home with my friends, family and of course, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

So where does that leave us, my dear blog readers?

I’m going to say goodbye to you too, since I’m heading back into work on Monday and will be back to my American routine. Who knows though, maybe I’ll let you know what’s going on from time to time this summer. Thanks for reading, and until next year, au revoir!

April 18, 2011

Cow Contest

Yesterday a few of my teammates and I went to see a ‘cow contest.’ I was a little worried about what the cow contest would entail (I really didn't want to see the cows hurt each other or fight to the death or anything brutal like that...), but I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw! Basically, the cows are split up into groups based on weight. Then six cows enter ‘the ring’ led by serious-looking farmers. When it’s time to fight, the farmers release the cows. Then the cows kick up some dirt, do a lot of standing around, some run around the ring, some eat the grass, and occasionally two cows engage in a fight. The cows butt heads, lock horns, and push one another until one of the two cows retreat (it’s not unlike a boxing out drill we do in basketball…). Then they leave the ring and the next weight class of cows comes in.

me with my cow =)
There were a couple of things that I saw at the cow contest that I thought were really cool/ just observed. I haven’t bulleted in a while, so I think I’ll take that route today:

-       The cows had painted numbers on them.
-       My teammates and I all found cows with our respective jersey numbers, cheered for ‘our cows,’ and took pictures with them.
-       My cow was a fighter; she literally tried to fight every cow that came near her.
-       My cow made it to the finals!
-       Two cows refused to fight because they were from the same farm. They just stood looking at each other. I think this was my favorite part of the day.
-       Cows smell, poop on themselves, and attract flies.
-       There was a turkey at the cow contest.
-       Turkeys have really ugly heads; they creep me out.
-       Turkeys really do ‘gobble.’
-       Next to the turkey were chickens, rabbits, and donkeys.
-       I got to pet the donkey.
-       Like everywhere in Switzerland, people brought their dogs to the cow contest.
-       One husky took a lot of interest in the chickens. He just sat down by the chicken coop and watched them for half an hour.
-       The type of crowd at a contest is not unlike the crowd I once witnessed at a demolition derby.
-       They served cotton candy, but no popcorn.
-       The bells around the cows' necks were really loud.
-       One of the serious-looking farmers got tripped up by his cow; he fell in the dirt.
-       The cows were very vocal.
-       If I owned a farm, I would put a lot of friendly cows on it.

I think that is all.

Some side notes:
-       I forgot to mention that our season is over.
-       We won our last game!
-       I’m headed to Bretagne, France for a few days at the end of the week.
-       I’m home in nine days for the whole summer!!!

April 12, 2011

Take A Picture...

I’ve recently decided that I should probably start walking around with wallet-sized pictures of myself in sweats to hand out to the random people I see on the street who seem to have serious staring problems. This way they can spend their time looking at the picture and not at me.
I must admit that I am used to a certain number of stares I receive on any given day. I’m really, really tall, so I understand that people want to marvel at my height. I don’t even really blame them, because when I see someone my height or taller I tend to stare too, but mostly because I’m excited to see someone who can empathize with how annoying it is that all the other people stare. So basically, I’m in a catch 22 whenever I see a fellow 6-foot-&-up-er, which is becoming a very prestigious club in case you were unaware!
Anyways, my point is that I’m used to being stared at because I’m tall. However, once I got to Switzerland I realized there were a couple of other habits I have that invite more stares than I’m accustomed to. For example, we have workouts during the middle of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Right after those workouts I have to rush into town to have lunch at my restaurant before they close for the afternoon. Now, I’m what anybody who has ever met me/played basketball with me would call a sweater. Some people are cardigans, but not me; nope, I’m a sweater. You see where I’m going with this? There is absolutely NO WAY I am going to put on jeans and a nice shirt after a mid-day workout just to feel constricted and prolong the amount of time it takes me to stop sweating. The problem? Apparently Switzerland (or possibly all of Europe) has an 11th Commandment I didn’t know about: Thou shall not wear sweats in public. Needless to say, my wearing of sweats allures the stares of what I call the fashionistas, or people who are constantly aware of what they’re wearing and what others are wearing. This about doubles the amount of stares I receive on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Inappropriate Swiss attire - most likely. Otherwise, irrelevant.
That brings us to today…the perfect storm. After a great workout at noon (I’m talking drenched shirt, red face, legs shaking – the whole nine yards), I quickly showered, threw on my sweat pants, and get this – flip-flops. I can't believe I had the audacity to put on flip-flops! I felt like I was at a black-tie event in a bikini. Literally everybody I passed on the street stared at me. Attention overload. I just don’t understand what the big deal is. If it’s okay for your dog to come into the restaurant, why can’t my flip-flopped feetsies? By now all the people who work at the restaurant know my deal, so they expect my sweats and casual attire, but to the other patrons, according to their stares, I’m pretty much Satan.
I know I’m venting, and I don’t mean to complain, but the wearing of sweats just isn’t going to change after those mid-day workouts, and as the weather gets nicer, my feet want to be free, so that’s not changing either. If I’ve gotten used to grandmas on razor scooters, I think everyone else can get used to an athlete in sweats and flip-flops. Don’t you?

April 5, 2011

Holy Crap I'm 24...

Walking back to my apartment today after doing my favorite thing in the world (a track workout (sense my sarcasm)), I started thinking about birthday wishes. Last year when I blew out my candles, I remember I didn’t even make a wish. The lack of wish-making wasn’t premeditated (okay, so I’ve been watching a lot of The Good Wife), but when the time came to extinguish the flames, I couldn't think of anything feasible to wish for. Sad I know, but don't worry; my wish-thinking led to happier thoughts.
I thought about what my birthday wishes used to be like, and how many of them actually did come true. I don’t remember all of them, but I’m sure some of them were as simple as wishing for the Malibu Barbie I’d asked for, or as ridiculous as wishing that I would never have to go to school again. There was one specific wish I do remember making though, and it was somewhere around my thirteenth birthday, when I’d just really started playing basketball. I wished that I would become a professional basketball player.
Teammates & Boys After Their Win!
Okay, so it’s not the WNBA, but my thirteenth birthday wish still came true! And you know what I did on my 24th birthday? I went to the Nyon club’s 12-year-old boys championship cup game (which they won), and then went to a water park. Yup, at 24 years old, I still had a kiddie birthday party with my teammates. Three of us squeezed into floats and went down the water slides. We floated in the lazy river and jumped over the waves in the wave pool. I guess because I am 24, I noticed things at the water park that I wouldn’t have when I was younger, like how nobody wore shoes, kids were definitely peeing in the lazy river, and that the kid’s arm (that had an obvious open wound on it) in front of me had touched my float. We ended the day in the “16 years +” spa area (thank goodness), where I enjoyed the Jacuzzi and talked with my coach and teammate about how much faster I’ve become this year (a compliment I’ll never get tired of hearing).
My teammates and coach gave me a Swiss water bottle and a signed basketball for a present (so cute). The women’s basketballs in Europe say “G6” on them, which my teammates added a “Like a…” to (yes, I was feelin’ so fly…). They all signed the ball with their names and numbers, except for my coach, who simply wrote, “Julie #Coach.” They sang their French Happy Birthday song to me, and even got me a free dessert from Mickey D’s. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty American birthday celebration. Only one traditional thing was missing: the blowing out of the candles. I’m saving that for when I go home, and I’m already thinking up wishes.