Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

A little bit of Chicago in England

So, since moving over here my life has mainly consisted of teaching English and lacrosse. When I stopped playing after high school in 2006, I never imagined I would return to the sport this way to both play and coach. I’ve enjoyed it immensely; it’s brought me some of my closest friends over here and amazing opportunities to travel and meet people. That being said, I’ve started working with the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF), which does a lot of work with newer, inexperienced teams and helping them get off the ground. Since that’s basically what I’ve been doing since last year, I had the chance to assist at a camp in Mainz in August then coach my own in October in England.

SHS lacrosse 2006 (#13)

I arrived on a Wednesday in London and made my way out to Welwyn where I coached the girls team practice that night. They’re about the same level of experience, if not a little newer, than my girls here so it was great to be on the same level. The girls are all super nice and I stayed with one of them overnight (her dad coaches the boys team and her brother plays on it- quite the lacrosse family) and it’s nice to have a little home-y treatment. Sidenote: Beforehand, all the girls and family knew was that I was a coach coming from Germany. They had no idea if I was German or American or what, so they were a little nervous regarding the potential language/cultural barrier. The big concern was if I’d be okay eating cereal for breakfast and if not, what do Germans eat? (Yes, cereal was great and usually, bread with assorted cheeses, meats, jam, spreads etc)

Then I had Thursday-Saturday free before I had to coach the camp on Sunday. Among the many things I’ve learned in the past year, one of them is how to travel alone. And do it well. I no longer have any fear about traveling by myself or how to occupy my time, so I walked around the city a bit Thursday before making it to my hostel and checking out the area around there. Friday I went into the city again and had the best intentions of trying to get last minute student-rate tickets to go see a play or do something cultural, when I ran into this in Trafalgar Square:

Bear Down

Obviously, being a great Bears fan I knew the game was that weekend and had tried to get tickets beforehand but they were too expensive. So I vow to come back to Trafalgar Square later Friday night where it turns out, they’re hosting fan fest. I hop on a boat and make my way over to Greenwich (pronounced “Gren-itch” for all you non-east coasters) where yes, Greenwich Mean Time comes from and they also have a great market set up with various sellers and an array of international food. (Let’s just say Germany’s food variety is lacking and the Ethiopian food I had for lunch in Greenwich was amazing). I make it back to downtown London in time for fan fest where everyone naturally has to wait in a line to get in and be searched which takes forever. So I strike up conversation with some Bears fans I see (Chicagoans are all so friendly. Don’t believe me? Come visit. Or read the rest of this post). Once I get in, I naturally head over to get a beer (where they’re only serving Bud Light. Ahh.. America’s finest. We wouldn’t want quality European beer or anything).

New friends at the game

Now, I mentioned the fact that I’m more than okay traveling alone because most Americans are downright terrified¬†of it and/or assume something is terribly wrong when they see someone traveling alone. Example: The group of Bears fans I was talking to before I went in see me buying a beer. One approaches me, asks me who I’m there with and is shocked when I answer with “no one.” They politely invite me to hang out with them for a bit, which I politely accept. “A bit” turns into “Friday early evening until Sunday night”. They took me under their wing and we had an amazing weekend from going out Friday night, shopping and pub-hopping on Saturday which brings us to Sunday: camp and game day. The lacrosse camp went well, a smaller turnout than I expected, but the drills I prepared went over well and it ended with an invitation to come back and do another camp sometime.

I made a last-minute decision to make the trip out to Wembley Stadium (where the Bears game was) and try to scalp a ticket (the guys I was hanging out with already had theirs) and if it worked, great, if not, I’d go to a bar nearby and watch the game. I somehow have great luck an manage to score a club-level ticket (face value, 130 pounds) for 70 pounds. The guy who sold me it even walked me to the door and waited for it to be scanned for me to give him the money. Now I was alone in the classy club area, but not for long. The guys in front of me notice my Bears shirt, turn around and ask me where I’m from. Obviously they’re from Chicago as well, we start chatting, they take care of my beers for the rest of the game and I have yet another group of new friends. Needless to say this trip was a huge success overall, and it was amazing to get some quality time with a bunch of Chicagoans- in London. Who woulda thought? It made me really appreciate coming from Chicago/the Midwest and the generosity and friendliness showed from every Bears fan I met.

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December 1, 2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment