The thought of moving to a foreign country to play hockey is an opportunity that although may seem frightening, it’s one that cannot be passed up. Back in August when I moved to Austria to be the goaltender for the Salzburg Eagles, there were so many unknowns. I had traveled to Europe before, but I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy living in Europe or get homesick. I wasn’t sure how the level of hockey would compare to college or what my teammates would be like. Now having lived in Austria for almost four months, all the uneasiness and unknowns have disappeared.
The main difference with the European lifestyle is the lack of convenience in goods and services, as well as the work-life balance. Stores are closed on Sundays, food is sold in smaller quantities, and the selection of processed and pre-made foods is very small. Europeans really value work-life balance, so the career driven lifestyle isn’t as prominent as it is in the US. At times the slower pace can be frustrating for someone who is always used to being on the go, but overall I’ve grown to enjoy the slow down in lifestyle.
After four months of being away from home, I still wouldn’t say I’ve gotten homesick. There are moments when I wish I could be at home with my family to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, but it’s hard to be homesick when you’re living in one of the most beautiful cities, surrounded by mountains. The hardest part about being so far from home is not having my parents at my games. Growing up and even in college, my dad made it to every game possible. After a good game or bad game, it was always nice to be able to talk it out with my dad. My parents watch the games online when they are streamed and when they do make it out to my games it makes it that much more special!
The level of play in the Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL) varies from team to team. Games against the competitive teams are a blast, especially because they usually end in OT or a shootout. As a goalie, it’s exciting when you can make a difference in the outcome of the game and there have been a lot of opportunities to do so this season.
My teammates are a huge reason why this experience has been great so far. From the start they were welcoming and made the imports feel at home. A lot of the players have been playing together for up to 10 years. The team has done a great job making the imports feel as though they have been a part of the team for multiple years, which isn’t an easy task. I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to be a part of. Some games we aren’t clicking and others we are, but it is easy to see how much the management, coaches and captains value improving the organization.
We just finished our last game of 2017 so now we have a couple weeks off to travel. My family is coming to Europe this year for Christmas, and we will be traveling to Krakow, Prague and Nuremberg to check out the Christmas markets and do a bit of sightseeing! It will be nice to have a break to travel with the family, and get back at it in the New Year.
Until next time!