Well well well another month in the books! Volleyball has been trucking along, and we just ended Round 3 of games this season, and we are sitting at a solid 2nd place in the league! I hope we continue to go up the second half of the season and get those wins we are working our butts off in practice for. You can check out a lot of summaries, highlights, and interviews on youtube thanks to spotv, and my facebook page here!
The volleyball here is very different from what I’m used to playing college in the Big Ten, and it has been a huge adjustment. The hitters are all crafty and there are many veterans in the league, so their technique has been perfected with so many years in this kind of training. Rather than having to play physically so high above the net like I’m used to, I have had to adjust to lower attacks for blocking and the crafty shots rather than power in the back court. Having being newly exposed to the world of playing behind the 3m line, I’m soaking up a lot of things in the world of defense and am slowly getting to the point where I occasionally dig some balls. My team also have different line-ups for every team, meaning I can play left or right side on any day, which has been a new challenge but a fun one! By far the biggest challenge has been the environment in the gym at practice and the communication barriers. The environment is very serious and tense and the attention to detail is incredibly precise..every time I touch the ball here, I get feedback from several coaches, trainers, veterans, or really anyone who is watching and sees something less than perfection. It is great to have so many people invested in making you better, but still this is a huge change from the environment I’m used to, where you are trusted to know your responsibilities and execute them on your own, or just simply go ball out and score points and there will be no further discussion. Everyone is just trying to help, but at times it is certainly overwhelming to constantly stopping after a mistake and having someone call over my translator and have her tell me what’s up. Must. Stay. Patient. And I remind myself that I have come too far to step back into safety, if I’m gonna be here 8 months, I better be making as many gains as I can.
Oh and we are now ending practice with headstands and/or handstands. Not sure if it was my facial reaction when we were asked or my ever obvious lack of body control that lets me sit out of the those, but prayers up the day never comes when my participation is required.
Now the fun part, my momma came and stayed with me for 2 full weeks! She got to see 3 wins the first week and we got some down time the 2nd week to get into the Holiday spirit. The team and company were gracious hosts and I’m lucky my mom put up with the 12 hour flight across the globe.
PSA: I’m 5-0 with a visitor in the stands, so I think that is a sign I need some more, if anyone has time to kill, hit me up for a visit!!
We had a couple off days where I got to show mother around Seoul, which was a blast going to my favorite spots with her, despite the chilly weather and hectic crowds. Warm dumplings, cat cafes, and lots of shopping were all included in the festivities 🙂
For those wondering, Korea does celebrate Christmas, however it is celebrated much differently than expected. The glitz and glamor of the holiday was there all November and December long with lights and decorations and even the Korean Christmas music, but I found that the feeling of tradition was not the same. It is a holiday that has only recently become more popular thanks to pop culture here, and sadly for me it is a holiday spent more with your lover than your family of loved ones, similar to a Valentine’s Day, and it was odd to see it was one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I must say Christmas at home is unbeatable with the family traditions and spirit that lights up the day, but part of the difference here has to do with the majority of people being atheist, a sliver of population buddhist, and the other sliver leaving Christians. I began listening to Christmas music in November, and have to admit I was getting a little sick of it, partially because I refused to listen to any song along the lines of “I’ll be home for Christmas” to avoid ultimate homesickness, which right there is a huge chunk of songs I had to avoid. But with my mom visiting I got another suitcase of treats from home including homemade christmas cookies from sister and aunt chris and gram’s perfected danish pastries that gave me the all too familiar holiday food coma.
I was incredibly thankful that my mom gave up Christmas back home to spend time with me, because without her there would have been zero feeling of the holiday. I was lucky enough to have all of Christmas day off, and me, mom and my best girl frand Taylor met up at an American owned restaurant for a buffet of holiday classics and ended the night with a trip to Costco.
It certainly was the first year I didn’t wake up with the warm fuzzy feeling on Christmas Day ready to wake the rest of the family up and get started with the celebrations, but it was a day filled with comfort nonetheless. And that is more than I could ask for in a place so far outside my comfort zone.
I could go on a tangent about the similarities of life across the world and how love is a universal language and all those beautiful themes, but I’ll save that for another time. What I will say is that being on the opposite side of the world is uncomfortable, there are ways of thinking that are opposite and it has been truly eye opening for me. I’ll give you a fun scenario for you all to picture… today I got my first ever massage and had a tiny Korean woman walk up and down my back and bend my limbs every which way while my too long of legs hung off the massage table. You do you, South Korea.
I’ll end with my realization that it’s so important to know when to put your head down and keep grinding forward but also recognize when it’s time to lift your head up, look back, and appreciate just how far you’ve come.
Cheers to the start of a fabulous 2016 and 2nd half of season!