My first week in Switzerland…
Wow, what an exciting week I’ve had with my time in Switzerland! The sights here are beautiful, the people are genuine, and the travel is amazing. I wake up in the mornings and still can’t believe I’m living in Europe!! I have so much to tell you over my first week here, I thought it would be easiest to take you through it day by day.
Starting with Tuesday, August 24th into Wednesday, August 25th, this was my travel day. My first flight left Buffalo at 11:20am and arrived in Philadelphia at 12:30pm. It was very short in duration and everything went smoothly. Unfortunately, my layover in Philadelphia was long, so I had to entertain myself for 5 hours before my flight to Zurich at 6:10pm. For those of you who know me, this wasn’t very hard! I went to a restaurant and ate lunch, watched a few episodes of lost, and also started reading “Breaking Dawn,” the last book of the Twilight series. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the plane that was going to bring me to my next journey, Zurich, Switzerland. This flight was 8 hours long, so I arrived in Zurich at 8:25am (due to the 6 hour time change), I slept for some of it, but for the most part I was in conversation with the young girl beside me. She was around my age, going abroad to study in Geneva, Switzerland. She had been to Europe many times so anything she could tell me was very useful information! I arrived at the airport where Andy, a co-manager of the team, was there to pick me up. Right away I noticed differences in the cars, roads, gas stations, etc…but I was excited to take on a new way of living. We arrived in Regensdorf, Switzerland where Andy and his family reside. Later that night, I had dinner with Andy and Angie’s (managers) family – it was my first home-cooked European meal. Also that night, I went and skated with 5 of my new teammates. As you can guess, I was exhausted from the travel however being introduced to my new teammates was very exciting as they were very nice and extremely helpful with translations! The skate went well and I was already beginning to feel more comfortable in my new country of living!
On to Thursday, August 26th. Angie and I had a busy day planned getting the essentials of my contract completed. Regensdorf is 15 minutes outside of Zurich, so Angie and I drove to Zurich to complete our errands. First, we went to the Swiss Ice Hockey Office, where I met a lot of important people involved with the development of Swiss women’s ice hockey. After this, I checked out the hockey rink to which the Lions play the majority of their games. It was a little different from what I was used to at New Hampshire, however it was an Olympic sized sheet of ice which I love! Following this, we went to one of the largest malls in Switzerland. It was very fashionable and had a lot of formal restaurants. At the mall, I was able to get the things I needed, (don’t laugh when you read this), a hair dryer, body wash, bobby pins, pretty much women’s cosmetics! I also got my train pass which is cool because I can travel anywhere in the Zurich region for free! As well, my pay-as-you-go cell phone was purchased that day; don’t hesitate to call if you want to talk! Again, I had dinner with Angie’s family; we had Swiss pork and sausage with fruit, potatoes, and salad – very delicious! Also today, I attempted to learn a few words from the Swiss-German language but I discovered it isn’t the easiest language to learn!
On Friday August 27th, I traveled to Zurich with Andy and Tehri (a finish national team player). We toured around Zurich by foot. It was a beautiful day and the city was very busy! The sights and buildings are gorgeous (I posted some pictures onfacebook). One neat building we saw was the International Ice Hockey Federation office. I found that Zurich has a lot of expensive food and clothing shops. Everyone wears fashionable outfits and speaks in Swiss-German however the majority of people in the Zurich area speak fluent English as well. After Zurich, we left to go to a practice weekend with the team until Sunday, August 29th. This took place in Huttwil, Switzerland and Langenthal and Planegg (German League) were the other two teams participating in this weekend. Huttwil is considered countryside. We stayed in dorm-like rooms that were a five-minute walk from the hockey rink. We practiced four times and had one game in our time there. The goal of the weekend was to get to know your teammates better and start to form an understanding and chemistry with the players on the ice. We did well, as we were successful in winning our game. The uniforms are filled with sponsors, which is also different from what I’m used to! I discovered that European hockey requires a lot of finesse and skating, which are two aspects to hockey that I enjoy! We finished the weekend with a fun practice, having red vs. white mini games. This was a lot of fun because everyone was relaxed, smiling, and enjoying the company of their teammates. Later Sunday night, I visited Bulach – the place in which I will be living at the start of next week. It is a small but very cute town that has everything I need to survive. I will be living in a one bedroom flat in the same building as one of my teammates.
On Monday, August 30th, I helped volunteer for a fund raising tent for the Lions organization. There was a great atmosphere there and I had the chance to meet a lot of the girls off the ‘B’ team. On Saturday, I will be helping with the ‘B’ team and playing in their game with them. I helped serve drinks, wings, and potato wedges. Finally onto Tuesday, August 31st which was also my dad’s birthday (happy birthday dad!). I traveled to Stuttgart, Germany to obtain my working visa. My train left at 7am and my return train was at 6pm. I had the whole day to explore and see the sights while I waited for my Visa to be processed. This was my first out-of-Switzerland experience and I must say it was a good one. Stuttgart is one of the largest cities in Germany and is about a 3-hour train ride from Zurich. Luckily for me, the embassy was located on a huge shopping strip. In the morning, it was almost like a market, where venders had fresh fruit and vegetables and flowers for sale. Also on this same street (which cars are not allowed) were hundreds of shops ranging from expensive lines such as Prada, Diesel, Gucci to less expensive ones such as Claire’s. I made my first purchase and bought myself a Fossil watch! Overall the train was very easy and a convenient way to travel around Europe. I had an amazing first week and can’t wait to tell you more as my journey continues!!