So I blinked and 2 months have gone by since leaving the homeland. And although now I feel like I don’t need this blog as an outlet for me, I know a few of you have been wondering what I’m up to.  So here are some words and lots of pictures to try and capture the whirlwind of laughs and silly struggles that keep me going between preseason training sessions. 

As a team we are days from our season opener match and have slowly been adding of members to our team, from once 6 girls to (as of Monday), our full 12 girl roster. I was a little skeptic about arriving here a full 10 weeks before start of season at first, but with such a long preseason it has given me the opportunity to slowly adapt to life and volley here in Dresden, Germany, & Europe.

The perks of being here early gave us a more flexible schedule, with the weekends bringing us the rare and beautiful gift of off days, where we have no doubt made the most of them. Free weekends have included 2 trips to Berlin, more exploring of Dresden, team photo shoots, Oktoberfest in Munich and a trip to Poland for a friendly tournament.

illini

Berlin is a close (and cheap) 2.5 hour bus ride from where I live which is pretty special because of it’s really a rad city.  Being in East Germany, I was so curious to see how life was impacted by what really is such recent history, with the wall only coming down in 1989.  For what used to be a hub for controversy and tension, it has really flourished into a city of art, expression and acceptance.  It almost seemed to be on the opposite of the spectrum of it’s history, where you couldn’t turn and not see graffiti/street art, or just people with blue hair walking barefoot.  Seriously, think hipster everything, then multiply it by 10.  The abundant green spaces and parks also added more to the relaxed and open vibe of the city.  And with eclectic cities come diversity in the food too, helllllo bomb burritos and burgers!

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I’ve heard in general biking is much more popular in Europe, but my god the amount of bikes here in Germany. From the moment I got here I noticed it’s a norm in transportation. People bike to work, people bike with their groceries hanging on, people over the age of 80 race past you on bikes, I’ve even seen people biking while pulling their child’s carriage behind while walking their dog AND with their groceries.  Impressive really.  I swear I’ve even seen toddlers riding around on 2 wheelers like it was the norm.

It didn’t take too long to learn the coorelation between the Radler drink I’ve had at home is named after the German word for bicycle is radler. Because it is a mix of beer and limonade like a shandy, it is a refreshing drink for cyclists to have after their long rides.  Whatever the origin and intention, I’m just stoked they are so popular. Also had a ‘diesel’ which was a beer mixed with cola and despite how terrible it sounds, I loved it.

Anywho, our first trip to Berlin we opted for an all day bike tour of the city, partially being convinced by the fact that there was a stop at a biergarten for lunch, and definitlly convinced by the exceptionally handsome and tall tour guide that lurred us in… But nonetheless, very informative and very fun..

 

The rest of our tour group may gave gotten quite a few laughs out of our mission to take beers on the road while biking, simply because the idea of open container everywhere is such an opportunity too good to ignore. But they also got their laughs in when it came time for quizzing on the geography of Europe and Germany….I mean give us a break, Germany is 2nd in the most bordering countries to Russia…so it gets complicated.

Once I got a grip of things, I sought out a day trip to a National Park near by the border of Germany and the Czech Republic called Saxon-Switzerland (nowhere near Switzerland though, see..complicated). The park showcases the Sandstone mountains along the Elbe river, and with a quick train ride and a quick hike I got to wander around sunrise before the heat and before the crowds (prime selfie-alone time).  It was pretty damn spectacular.

I will say that Germany and the cities included here are much more green than I thought, and being here so early in the year gave me a dose of warm summer weather to enjoy the tiergartens, and Dresden is a city with the largest green scape along a river, they did a fabulous job reserving all of the riverfront for grassy areas, bike paths, etc. with a balance of keeping the castles and biergarten restaruants tucked up in the hills over looking the river and cityscape πŸ™‚

 

Every year the DSC players go all out for a glamorous photoshoot, where each player’s picture is then featured on a month in a calendar.  This year’s theme was along the lines of “floating” and we were all draped in 10 meters of chiffon fabric and taken to a construction yard where  us girls were tip toeing on ladders, hanging from harnesses and jumping on trampolines πŸ™‚ We had a lovely staff that made us feel like we were models despite the ever obvious lack of knowing what to do.  I had the color yellow, and makes me think I’ll be a summer month but we will have to wait till the calendars come out for purchase!

 

Although Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival has always been on my to-do list, I have never found the timing to be able to attend, so when we found out that the event also hosted international versions in other cities,  we dressed like festival hippies and made our way to Treptower Park venue in Berlin where the weather was gorgeous and the people were happy.  Some of the headliners included Kings of Leon, G-eazy, Chainsmokers, Major Lazer, Matoma, Jess Glynne and more, to avoid complete exhaustion and madness we made our way to see Chainsmokers and Kings of Leon for a few hours, and all 4 of us North Americans can agree, it was the best few hours of our lives.  Seriously, I think every 5 minutes one of us yelled “I’m so happy” “this is awesome!” or “omg he’s so hot” What can I say, Chainsmokers, you have 4 new fan girls. Thx for the mems.

So many stories we can look back and laugh on, from trying to negotiate with a transit officer to shed mercy on the fact that we accidently bought a children’s subway ticket instead of adult (um 60euro fine, note to self: i’m a dumb american card really doesn’t work) and doing the YMCA with thousands of our new closest friends, to snacking on carrots and mushrooms between sets. So fun. 

 

I can’t say that I ever made an official bucket list for my life, but if I were to have made one some time ago, I think the first thing that would come to mind is to attend Oktoberfest in Munich. Oktoberfest. Like the. Real thing. The OG. The opening day of the biggest festival in the world.  The one that Justin Bieber was at THE SAME DAY AS US. Although it was nasty cold and rained on the opening parade, it didn’t rain on ours.  We arrived early and found a table in one of the 14 tents where we chowed on traditional Bavarian food and sipped our beers, only served by the liter, while we enjoyed the live music and crowds that only got happier and happier as the day went on.  I wish someone could have captured the way we lit up when the band played the first english song, “we are the champions” and erupted in song and dance.  Buying and wearing the traditional dirndls were a must, and it was a day for the books.

 

The perk of it being summer still and the abundance of warm weather knowing falls always seem to get shorter and winter will us like a brick has allowed for exploring more easily. There is such a lifestyle where eating outdoors at restaurants or cafes and the many markets add for such a relaxed and appreciative vibe. Downside to warm weather? No a/c and having to have windows open, by the way Germany doe not have window screens, and well these flies here are fearless. 

Driving manual has gone much smoother, but still certainly not smooth.as has filling up my tank, after my first incident of  Waving a 20 around and pointing to my pump got me nowhere but a cranky cashier yelling German and me storming out, because you have to fill the tank up before you go in to pay. Oh. how trusting 

I’ve gotten to see that Dresden has a lot to offer, other than being the place where coffee filters and toothpaste was invented πŸ˜‰ (still have to check out the huge hygiene museum here).  And sometimes I get so excited thinking about the upcoming Christmas markets I can’t sit still 😍 

 

So far it has been 2 months of training with blood, sweat, and smiles while preparing for the next. Big. Season. (ok maybe there were tears once, but only because push-ups and I realllllly don’t get along k? k.)

I’m really enjoying the Europe life thus far, do I want to bang my head against the steering wheel when I occasionally stall my manual? Sure.
Do I crave ice in my drinks and dream of public toilets free of charge? Of course.
Do I miss my moms hugs and my dads jokes? Not even a question.
But at the end of the day I can feel that I’m satisfied, I’m happy but I’m still striving for the strides I want to make. 
And that’s all pretty neat πŸ™‚

P.S. Go Illini, as always

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