Hello Friends and Family,
I am writing to you from Dresden, Germany. Once again I packed up two large suitcases with all my necessary items and headed off on a new adventure. No matter how excited I am for a new experience, I am always sad to leave home. Life in Raleigh is pretty great and I miss everyone tremendously when I am away. However, it’s a short time in my life and I plan to soak up everything I can about this new country and culture.
This year on the plane ride over I really lucked out and had a seat with lots and lots of leg room! I say “lucked out”, but as most of my friends can guess, my dad got me the hook-up on that one. It wasn’t like last year where the seat in front of me was broken and it almost took my head off when the girl in front of me reclined. She had a nice flight…I, on the other hand, did not. So it was already a better start this time. I was totally shameless on this flight as I wore my neck pillow and new eye mask (thanks Nathalie and Julia). Sidebar: I have never worn and eye mask before, and let me tell you, those things are amazing. If you don’t have one, get one. I slept the entire flight! Minus some bathroom breaks. Those were funny because I was sitting in the window seat next to an older German couple. When I was ready for my bathroom break they were both sound asleep. I decided it couldn’t wait so I climbed over them. At one point I was completely straddling the husband and I kept thinking ‘Dear God, please don’t let this man wake up to this.’ Thankfully, he remained sleeping. It must have been because I am so stealth.
The two other Americans and I (Gina Mancuso and Whitney Little) arrived in Dresden together. There will be one more American and Canadian on the team, but they are training with their national teams right now. When we arrived there was a reporter with a camera ready to take our picture. This was extremely ideal after a 17 hour travel day. Can anyone say glamour shot? HA Anyways, we received a warm welcome and went to our apartments for our first night.
The next day I received my new car that I will have for the season. Yes, it’s stick shift. It has been an adjustment driving this car. I’m so grateful my dad got me a driving lesson before I left the States. That has made the transition easier. However, this is not to say my driving is perfect. Sometimes I get myself into a pickle trying to maneuver around the city as the traffic patterns are a little different from the states. Also getting the car going can be a bit of a challenge. One time I thought I was in first gear, but I was sorely mistaken. I was in neutral and the car was not going anywhere. This caused me to miss the green light and the lady in the car behind me was a little more than displeased. I could see her waving her arms and shaking her head through my rear view mirror. I felt bad for her, myself, and for the volleyball club as I have their logos all over the car. Not great publicity.
This weekend we had Saturday and Sunday off. It also just so happened to be Dresden’s biggest city festival of the year. So that was a great way to start off our time here. Gina, Whitney, and I went exploring all around the city. It is beautiful with river views and historic buildings. I love adventuring around the cobblestone streets. There is a large mall with lots of shopping, and also TWO Starbucks. I’m not a huge coffee person, but it will be a good taste of home when we get into the seasonal months. Throughout the festival there were several different stages set up. They sometimes had bands playing or people performing. One stage we walked by had performers dancing to a variety of American music, including Thriller! Also, one band was performing the song Wagon Wheel which is a Raleigh, North Carolina classic. They did pretty well, except for they struggled saying Roanoke and Raleigh, but hey, I don’t say anything properly in German. Glass houses.
Later in the evening we found our way to the local hockey team’s arena and caught their game. It was fun to go see their game, and to people watch. The fans are in it! At times they were shirt-less, jumping around, and chanting. Here in Germany when you buy a beer it’s about 5 euros, but if you bring your cup back to the stand, you get 2 euros back. At the end of the hockey game all of the fans starting throwing their empty beer cups onto the ice. Some of the cups hit some coaches and we thought the fans were mad that the team lost, and were throwing their cups in anger. We thought this was so sad. However, as we were feeling bad for the hockey team, one of our German teammates told us that this was actually a really nice thing that the fans were doing. Someone from the team organization would collect the cups off the ice, and then they would get to profit off of the 2 euros received from each cup. So we were happy to hear that the fans were still being supportive and not mean. However, the team did not get my cup. I wanted my two euros back! Maybe next time I’ll be feeling more charitable.
Overall, it was a really fun weekend and a good end to our first week here. It’s funny how far you can come in a week. It has been a tough adjustment at first, but now that I am starting to get into my new routine and have my bearings it is getting easier. It will be fun to see what adventures this season brings!