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2011 Off to Exciting Start

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So 2011 has already proven to be an exciting year and its only February.  My life in Sweden has felt like a roller coaster since returning from the states and I imagine it is not going to slow down any time soon.  If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I had to do a mini assessment of my life in Sweden in this blog: Abruptly moving your life to another country can leave you with a lot of uncertainties.  Where to live?  How to access your money?  What about a cell phone?  Transportation?  Simple questions suddenly become much more difficult, particularly when everything is in a different language.  Little bumps in the road – that inevitably WILL happen –become enormous roadblocks when dealing with another culture.  If I have learned nothing else during my time abroad, I have certainly learned how to be more flexible.  S**t happens.  And when it does, being able to ‘go with the flow’, so to speak, will not only keep your stress level down, but will also allow you to come to a solution much more quickly.  There it is; the big ‘ah-ha’ moment I had been waiting for.  It took me a while to get there but maybe my hindsight can help anyone reading this….do people read this?  Anyway…

It turns out my financial situation took a dramatic turn for the worse when I got back from vacation and I was unsure whether or not I would even be able to stay in Sweden for the rest of the season.  I’ll be honest, there were days when I started packing my belongings and came very close to booking a flight back home.  Luckily, however, there are people here that refused to let that happen and pitched in to help me get back on my feet.  Without getting into the details, I am happy to report that I am still here in Sweden and beginning part time work for an international school as a teacher.  Other than all the frustration and time spent being beyond frantic, things couldn’t have worked out better!  So, like I said, being flexible is a MUST!

After the dust settled, I finally got to have some fun in Stockholm and continue my city exploration.  Through afamily friend back in Los Angeles, I met a local Swedish television writer and got to visit the set of a new drama series that will debut in the fall.  It was pretty cool to see the similarities and differences between sets in LA and here in Sweden.  From rehearsals to recording, the entire day was exhilarating and the inviting cast and crew immediately made me feel welcome.  I look forward to going back and seeing the progress made (and hopefully seeing an episode on the air).  To keep the new experiences coming, a teammate and I went exploring through the archipelago, as Stockholm is known as the ‘Venice of the North’.  The sub-zero temperatures limited our exploration but we managed to make it from Vaxholm’s main island to Rindö and Skarpö (you may need Google Maps for this one).  One of my more bizarre Swedish experiences came when we got off the ferry and stumbled upon a sign with a large thumb and some words I didn’t know.  Turns out it’s a place where people can hitch a ride around the island from the cars coming off the boat.  That’s right: legal (encouraged) hitchhiking.  So after an amazing walk in sunshine and light snowfall, we bravely hitched a ride back to the ferry – more like I bravely hitched a ride; my teammate didn’t think twice about getting in a stranger’s car.  But it turns out the man who picked us up was very nice and, in fact, he had already picked someone up who was on her way to the ferry as well.  Shocking that there are still kind people out there, but I will be sure to never try that in New York or Los Angeles.

As if 2011 wasn’t already exciting enough, our team started struggling in the league as of late and personal frustrations amongst teammates were beginning to mount.  It culminated with our coach being released for the remainder of the season, and me with a broken toe – two very unrelated events.  As the toe began to heal, I found myself on the bench during games helping to coach the girls along.  And I must say, as much as I enjoyed coaching and thinking tactics, I am not ready to stop being a player just yet!  I was finally able to get my swollen foot into a skate a few days ago and it felt so nice to be back on the ice with my teammates.  Our management even brought in a new coach for the rest of the season who definitely knows his stuff!  Practices are vibrant and exciting once again and it looks like a whole new team in our old jerseys.  I hope we can continue this newly found energy into the final four games of the season and end on a positive note with our sights set on next season.  And while I don’t know if I will be returning for another season quite yet, I do know for certain that I have learned some valuable life lessons during my time here both on and off the ice.  Life has definitely been crazy and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

– Ashley

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