My name is Kaitlyn and I just finished playing for the ECDC Memmingen Indians in Memmingen, Germany. I am originally from Toronto, Ontario and attended Brown University prior to playing overseas. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been asked the same questions many times. When I meet someone new I love playing 20 Questions. I thought I would share some answers to the 20 most frequently asked questions I’ve received since returning home!
1. Where were you playing?
I was playing in Memmingen, Bavaria. It is located west of Munich, south east of Stuttgart and north east of Zurich.
2. What were your first impressions of Memmingen?
After growing up in Toronto and attending school in Providence (two relatively larger cities), I was definitely a little surprised at how small Memmingen was at first. I can remember walking around the first day thinking “this is new”.
3. What was your favourite part about playing in Germany?
It is hard to pick my favourite part to be honest. I would say my most memorable moment was playing in our final league game against Hanover in Memmingen. The game itself was not very exciting, but I think the game represents a great achievement after all of our time and effort training in Memmingen. In order to win the league, we had to win our last two games. Our last game was on a Sunday afternoon and we had over 500 fans. From the moment I moved to Memmingen, I had felt nothing but love and appreciation. I became part of a small hockey community, but more importantly, a hockey family. I had the chance to be a part of something greater than myself. I had the opportunity to help a group of girls and staff that had been working so hard for so many years. Winning was just the cherry on top!
4. Do you feel like you enjoyed it more being with your best friend?
One of my other favourite parts about playing overseas was getting to do it with Sarah. Sarah and I had played together for the Etobicoke Dolphins and then went on to play together at Brown. We both decided that our hockey careers deserved a better finale than what we had experienced our senior year at Brown. After understanding the process of playing overseas a little more in depth now, we are extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to do it together.
5. What was your least favourite part about playing in Germany?
In terms of my overall experience, there is nothing specific that I would change. My least favourite part about playing in Germany was how far away it was. Well duh is probably what you are thinking. Until being away away, I had never realized how important my family was when it came to hockey. When I played at Brown, my parents attended a lot of my games, and if they could not make the trip, they were watching at home. Hockey wasn’t the same without them, but they still followed as closely as they could!
6. What was your team like?
Our team was awesome! One of our first nights we met most of the girls at the bowling alley. Not really knowing what to expect, we were (obviously looking back at it now because they are the best) warmly greeted with German, some English and a lot of girls afraid to speak English. Whether we could communicate with the girls right away or not, they went out of their way to make the transition super easy and help us out however they could throughout the year. Whether it was ordering something on a menu, questions about traveling, or ordering books on Amazon, they were always willing to lend a helping hand.
7. How was the level of play?
The level of play was competitive. Some games were definitely quicker and more competitive than others. Coming from a losing program, it was nice to be back in a winning environment where hockey was the priority. We went back and forth with our rivals Planegg all season. It was nice to wake up excited on game days for a change.
8. What was it like not being able to speak German?
At first, it was quite intimidating. I am horrible at learning languages but by the end of season we could understand some conversations. The girls did a great job translating the majority of the time. If I were to do it again, I would do a little more Rosetta Stone before heading over. Taking German classes would have also been helpful, but we were not sure how much spare time we would have because learning a new language is demanding.
9. What was your favourite meal in Germany?
Well, I think my favourite meal was definitely Kasespatzle. It is very similar to one of my favorite meals at home but 10x better! I also fell in love with Nutella. I think Nutella and bretzels are definitely my favorite snack of all time.
10. What was it like driving on the auto-bahn?
After driving on the auto-bahn, the 401 is a nightmare. I would love to drive a really nice car on it one day.
11. Did you get a chance to meet any of the imports from the other teams?
Yes! We actually had some of the same weekends off and had the opportunity to travel with them. We either had mutual friends or played against each other prior to playing in Germany.
12. What was it like living in Germany compared to Canada or the US?
There were a lot of little things that were definitely different. Businesses closed at 20:00 every night and nothing was open on Sundays in our town. We got used to it but it was definitely different! Water is not free. That sounds silly, but a bottle of water at dinner is about the same price as a beer. And the beer, amazing!
13. What was it like to win a German Championship?
Well, we definitely didn’t make it easy on ourselves. We had some ups and downs throughout the season but in the end I do believe that we were the best team. Our last weekend was at home so we had the chance to celebrate directly afterward and it was a lot of fun. I think our game ended around 14:00 and I did not leave the rink until the middle of the night.
14. How many opportunities did you have to travel?
Every month we had a weekend off because the national team practiced. Sometimes we stayed in Germany and went to a soccer game, or decided to find a cheap RyanAir flight out of Memmingen. Either way, we had a lot of opportunities to explore.
15. What was your primary way of traveling? Planes, trains, buses?
There was a RyanAir airport in Memmingen so that made it easy to get around. We also spent a lot of time on trains and buses. There are a lot of options!
16. What was your favorite city you visited?
London was my favorite city. Italy was my favourite country. Lake Bled (Bled, Slovenia) was the most beautiful thing I saw.
17. What do you miss most about being in Germany?
I miss the people. Like I said earlier, I felt loved from the moment I landed in Germany. Peter, our team manager, quickly became our German dad. Sarah and I couldn’t believe how amazing Peter, his wife Monika, and their two daughters Anna and Julia were to us. Our team and coaching staff became more than our friends, they became our family. I can’t wait to go see them again, and I hope some of them have the opportunity to travel to this side of the Atlantic!
18. What was the most unexpected lesson you learned from playing overseas?
Perspective. Anyone who has travelled will talk about perspective. I really thought the “fun” part of my life was over after university. At Brown, we were taught and encouraged to think about things from a variety of different perspectives. The time I spent in Europe allowed me to be apart of a different culture and gain an entirely different perspective on life. It is safe to say being in Germany taught me that “fun” doesn’t end after university.
19. Would you recommend playing overseas?
Yes. Yes. Yes. The real world will always be there. Do it now while you can!
20. Any advice for women interested in playing overseas?
My main piece of advice would be to do your research. If you know anyone who has played overseas, that’s a great start. It can be difficult to find email addresses and understand foreign websites. If you do your research and are proactive, I am sure you will be able to find a good fit.
– Kaitlyn Keon