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Shipe Transfers from Sweden to Team in Russia

Picture this. You are stuck in a massive rainstorm in Prague and decide to duck into an alcove to wait out the weather. The alcove quickly fills up with people from all around the world speaking different languages until someone plays Lady GaGa’s "Alejandro" on their cell phone. Suddenly, the entire group is humming the chorus and for one moment we are all united by the same language.

I have lived away from home for 12 years now, four of them spent in Europe, and I am always amazed by how even the most dissimilar cultures can find common ground in music, family photos, and yes, even McDonalds.

Although I decided to transfer from Linkoping, Sweden to Ufa, Russia this season I am still comforted by familiar sights and sounds. My first meeting with my Russian coaches had me singing Bruno Mars in the car on the way to the hotel. As a preverbal dashboard singer, hearing a familiar song in a distant country was an immediate reminder of home. Now nearly a month and a half later I am again reminded of home every night when I see the Big Dipper (Alaska’s State emblem) illuminating the Czech night sky. Although I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to play the game I love in Europe there are definitely days when my thoughts turn to all that I am missing at home: my niece and nephew’s childhoods, long conversations with my Mom, family nights and of course my friends.

Every serious athlete is asked to sacrifice time with their family in the name of their sport and I think most willingly do so. However, as I am sure all would agree, there are those days when the grind of training and living away from our families take their toll. On these days, I find the best remedy to be looking around and finding the familiar in your surroundings. While familiarity will never be a replacement for home, it does go a long way in helping to cure homesickness. In my case, a little Lady Gaga was just the boost I needed that damp night in Prague. I think it might be time to finally download "Alejandro."

Until next time,

O’Hara Shipe


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