I’m back online! The past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind. For the first time in 6 months I found myself too busy to post on my blog. That gives you an idea of how much fun I’m having here in Sverige (Sweden). Aside from completing our 6 qualification games, I’ve been able to travel the country, explore different cities, Jag lär mig lite Svenska (learn a little Swedish) and meet some great people.
During the week you’d often find me cheering at Dragon games (our men’s team and favorite to win the league title) with friends, going for fika (coffee), shopping for Swedish fashion (decorative scarves, tights and leather jackets are key), learning how to drive standard (thanks Madde!), planning days around eating real Swedish pannkakor (pancakes), going out in town on the weekends (beware: in a small town you see everyone at the club…including your coaches!) and volunteering to help a friend coach at her old elementary school (a place where I found my biggest fans who decided I would forever be known as “Breeee cheese”☺). Days are long and busy with great weather for the most part. You can’t complain when you wake up to the sun reflecting off freshly fallen snow – it’s beautiful. The sun is out almost everyday with the temperature rarely dropping below zero.
I didn’t plan on becoming close with anyone during my 4 weeks in Sweden, however, Madde ruined that plan. She’s awesome and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. We’ve really hit it off and have found we have a lot in common – aside from our different taste in men. I’m more into tall, dark and rugged while she prefers the fair haired, soft-featured types (shocking!). Madde, besides being a great friend, has been a personal tour guide and translator. In my previous posts I stated how I felt I could understand Swedish to an extent. My comprehension continues to improve and when teammates talk I often shock them by agreeing or suggesting something. Speaking the language on the other hand is a completely different matter. The pronunciation is difficult and since I can’t roll my r’s I’m pretty much hopeless. That doesn’t stop me from reading the paper out loud and repeating words or phrases Madde tries to teach me. She’s very patient and has helped me master some key phrases like: “Jag pratar inte Svenska” (I don’t speak Swedish), “Jaha!” (Oh, really?), “Helvete” (dammit), “Dra åt helvete” (Go away!), “Håll käften” (shut up) and “ursäkta” (excuse me). It’s kind of scary speaking a language that you aren’t comfortable with.Fortunately my pronunciation hasn’t affected me on the basketball court as I’ve played quite well in all our games. We won our first 4 without a hitch. Winning the 4th game automatically clinched us one of the top spots in qualifications – the Sundsvall Saints will be staying in the top division! I was happy to help the team reach its goal. After our 4th victory, the Swedish Basketball Federation suggested to our owner we wouldn’t have to play the 6th and final game against Eos in Lund - located in the southern most part of the country (about 20 mins from Copenhagen) and about a 13 hour bus ride away. After the game Wednesday, our coach thought our season was likely over and we would be having a team party Saturday night before everyone was to head home on Monday. All of us, including myself had put basketball out of our minds and were now focused on other things, which is exactly when things got crazy.
Friday morning I awoke at 8am to a ringing phone. My coach was in a panic telling me we had to play Saturday and we would be leaving that afternoon so we could play Eos in Lund at 3pm the next afternoon. A 2-day trip was now going to be crammed into one. What made the whole trip stupid is that it didn't mean anything. We had already qualified for the first division and the team we were playing had no way of getting one of the two spots to be in the top division. Basically it was going to be a nonsensical expense for our team. With 2 players out due to season ending injuries and others sick with the flu, we had only 6 players capable of playing and making the trip. I was one of those 6. That evening myself, 5 Swedish girls and our assistant coach jumped on the 6pm train to Stockholm (4 hrs) then in Stockholm caught the night train to Lund (7 hrs) arriving in Lund at 6am the next morning – the day of our 3pm game! I didn't sleep a wink on the train and was not happy with how I felt. I'm not good at sleeping in moving transportation. Tired, dehydrated and with my mind somewhere other than basketball, I knew this was going to be an interesting game…
We ended up losing by 16, which I thought was pretty good considering we didn’t expect to play Saturday, hadn’t practiced since our last game, left on extreme short notice, didn’t sleep through the night and were short on players – most of which weren’t used to playing more than 5 minutes a game. I played well, but after the first half ran out of energy. It was a challenge getting up and down the floor. We got as close as 5 points, but in the end weren’t able to pull out a victory. After the game we took a bus into town and ate dinner. It was a sunny and relatively warm day. Lund is beautiful city with cobblestone streets and unique buildings. If you ever travel to Sweden, this is a must see town. The girls went back to the hotel, but I decided to play tourist and made Madde and Johan be my tour guides as I walked around and took pictures of the cool city sights. The church in the center of town is amazing. It’s huge! It’s hard to describe with words and I feel a photo still doesn’t do it justice. It’s one of those things you need to see with your own eyes. After I had taken a ridiculous number of pictures, it was back to the hotel to get ready for an evening out in Lund.
Two of the girls on my team went to the same high school as 2 of the girls on Eos. They invited us to their apartment where they were having a get together before everyone headed downtown. I was hesitant to go at first – this was the team we had just lost to, but in the end decided to embrace it. The party was actually quite fun with both the men’s and women’s players wanting to socialize and being very complementary of my play. After about an hour the crew headed downtown where we hit up 2 different bars. The second one was really neat. It was located in an old building in the center of town. The music was great and the dance floor packed. Another great evening spent in a city I never knew existed!
Click play to watch the video above!
Running low on sleep, I’m anxious to get home and enjoy my bed. I fly home Tuesday! Hej då! (Bye!)