Coach like a Girl

So this is the first post I’m writing in 2017, and I’m afraid it’s not motivated by happiness. I am very glad to be done with 2016, and the stress it brought to me and my friends. I am hoping this year starts with a bit more fun, and so far, it’s been pretty good! This last week, though, I was caught off guard.

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my jobs this year is as assistant coach on a young girls hockey team for my old association. I LOVE coaching these girls. I work with two other young women, both of whom played high school and college hockey. Our players are hilarious. They’re all around 10 years old, smart and sassy and starting to love the game like I loved the game. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get them motivated, but myself and my fellow coaches are attempting to get these girls tough, active, and ready for anything. I am a firm believer that these skills, as useful as they are on the ice, make these girls better students, family members, and even productive members of society someday. We need more women in leadership positions, and being told to take the body and get into battles on the ice has a funny way of building confidence in girls. I’m very proud of how far my team has come this year. As they love to hear me say, they’re kicking butt, and I can’t wait to finish this season strong.

That’s not to say coaching isn’t without its difficulties. At such a young age, being appropriate with criticism, balancing feelings, and developing skills is a tightrope walk. With our player’s parents feedback and by asking the players themselves, we’ve navigated that potentially tricky road very well. Thank god for supportive parents, and wonderful players. Any coach would understand what I mean. The time organizing practice, driving to away tournaments, counseling these young girls, and even going to impromptu outdoor ice to surprise them absolutely takes time, but it’s time that I believe is well spent when it is appreciated like it is with our team. I have no problem with investing time into young hockey players to make them have a little fun. It’s fun for me too!

The difficulty of coaching comes when that support and respect is replaced with negativity. This week I remembered firsthand that as women in hockey, and in coaching positions, my coaching staff and I are a minority in the hockey world.

As young hockey teams often do, we shared ice with another team. The team was a young boys team, and had older, male coaches, a couple of whom were likely parents. The first inkling we had that this practice would be different was when my head coach, Sarah, asked the boy’s head coach if he was interested in warming up together. This is normal, and depends on the coach’s preference. The coach didn’t respond with a yes or no, but rather looked over at one of our girl’s dads that often helps us during practices, back to Sarah, and asked “YOU’RE the head coach?” We were later told he was asking people on the ice who we were, and why we were coaching.

Honestly, at this point, I don’t even feel like going into details. There were several exchanges after this introduction that made it clear he believed himself to be a superior coach. Safe to say that there was not a whole lot of respect shown for myself or the other women on our coaching staff. That dad, who I mentioned helps us out? Even he brought it up, and stated it was probably because we were young women. We were left with a half empty puck bag, both nets to put away after practice (their staff all got off the ice and left them for us to deal with) and in my case, a lot of anger.

What makes me angry isn’t the fact that this man couldn’t believe that we were the coaches. To be fair, his question has a bit of merit. There are fewer women in coaching than men, it’s simply a fact. The problem comes when after learning this fact, he didn’t treat us as equals. We are all coaching young hockey players, of the same age and similar skills. (In fact, I believe our girls were stronger on basic skating skills, and played the body well during our final scrimmage.) Why doesn’t that make us equals?

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Our second trophy this season- not too shabby

Our coaching staff has 12 years of Division I and III hockey experience, at least 12 years of experience at the high school level, and we had strong connections to this conference. My head coach and I played with and against each other for over 6 years as kids. In fact, she’s coaching varsity for another team in the conference. I think we have enough experience with the game to get by, and as an added bonus, we can more directly connect with our team because we’re women. As a young girl, I would’ve killed for a coach who could tell me what it was like to play women’s college hockey, or even what to expect at the next level. It is amazing to hear from our team parents that their girls look up to us, and that they come home from practice talking about how they want to be like us someday. It is amazing to be able to say to my team that I was just like them, and they can go further than I ever did if they work at it.

It’s disappointing when other coaches look down on my fellow coaches (and by default, my team) for being women and girls.

I don’t mean to stand on a soapbox, or to make this a bigger deal than it was. Realistically, it was an hour of passive-aggressive disrespect, when the women who played hockey before I did dealt with a lifetime of it. I just hope that it starts to fade away, and the boys club of coaching in hockey disbands. I mean, there are multiple female skating coaches at the NHL level. It’s time! Women can love this sport, they can play this sport, they can coach this sport, and they can find success in this sport. No one needs to win a Stanley Cup to teach 10 year olds how to shoot a puck.

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I hope that the number of female coaches in hockey continues to climb. As a player I had at least one female coach on every coaching staff from high school through college, and I can tell you it meant a lot to have them there. I do NOT want to disparage male coaches and role models. Most of my coaches in hockey were men, and their support got me to where this sport took me. I wouldn’t trade their wealth of information for anything. However, I believe that the tide is changing. There are more opportunities for women and girls to play hockey than ever before. This means that there are more knowledgable alumni at every level, ready to share their love of hockey with the next generation of girls. There will always be a place for male coaches in hockey, but it’s time to make a bigger place for women on the same stage.

Until next time, stay warm, drive safe, and enjoy the little things (like the Wild beating the Blackhawks). Happy 2017!

Snoodles

 

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The Next Adventure

Hello again, everyone.

Remember when I said I’d write the finale post about the end of my time in Europe/my flight home? Yeah… about that…

Well, anyways, I’m back home in Minnesota now. I’ve been home for about 6 months (oopsy). I’m working as a dental assistant in an endodontic office (root canals and apicoectomies all day! whoo!), as a U10 coach, and on the MN Wild ice crew. I have to say I never gave the ice crew gals enough credit- dodging players and refs while getting all the snow off the ice in 90 seconds is no easy feat. I have yet to fall, but I’m sure it’ll happen one of these days. Hopefully no one films it and I don’t make the SportsCenter Not Top Ten, but with my luck, it’ll go viral.

It’s been a weird couple of months, people. Life has piled up, I’ve lost my mind a little bit, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m looking forward to the end of 2016, and the little bit of relief the holidays will bring. I’m especially excited for Johnny to come home for winter break, even if just for a couple days. It will be so nice to have the Snodgrass clan all back together, it’s been too long.

These days, I’m just trying to figure out dental school decisions, Christmas gifts, and wrangling 10 year olds into hockey gear. I’m afraid from the outside my life appears pretty boring, but I promise, it’s an absolute madhouse in here.

I hope your Thanksgiving was amazing, and your upcoming holidays look holly and jolly and white. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a game of pond hockey this christmas!

I’ll write more when I have a bit of my brain back and something more exciting to post! Until then, stay warm everyone.

Snoodles/Snods/Emily/dear god who am I anymore

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Oh yeah I have a blog..

Hello everyone! Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed your time home/away with friends, family, loved ones, expat friends, teammates and dogs (shoutout to Charlie!) A couple weeks ago now ago I was sitting in an apartment in Munich, having just sent Kayla back to the states to watch UConn play in a bowl game and see her fam. Then, I was sitting in an Austrian ski resort, having spent an incredible three days in the alps climbing mountains, curling, and enjoying a real European vacation for the first time. After that I was back in Bolzano, breathing a bit before a final week of travel with a friend from home. Now I’m back in Bolzano attempting to motivate myself to actually do work and get back to “normal.” I’m so sorry, but this might be a long post. A LOT has happened lately (which I seem to constantly say). I also have to mention the fact that the MacDonnell clan was incredibly welcoming in adopting me for the holidays. It’s nice to have friends and families that so encapsulate the Christmas spirit, and I’m so thankful to have had some people to celebrate with 🙂 I received the best stocking ever (with peanut butter!!!) and enough surrogate family love to get me through this holiday away from home. The Macdegrass/Snodonnell Christmas was incredible.

Having said all that, the week before Christmas was probably the best week since I’ve been here in terms of travel and sightseeing. Mac, Kayla and I went on an immersive Italian experience, where we hit Venice, Florence, and Rome in 6 days! My feet were just a little sore, and I regretted my tendency to overpack, but the things we got to see in just 6 days made up for everything. I feel like I’ve finally seen Italy, after living here for close to three months.

On sunday a couple weeks ago, I took a bus to Munich after our game to meet up with Kayla and Mac. I went a little out of my way, as I live closer to Venice, but I wanted to drop some stuff off at their apartment and it’s always nice to travel together! Monday morning, we took a bus to Venice. When we arrived at the bus stop, we could see Venice, but weren’t exactly sure how to get across the water. After asking the bus driver (who didn’t understand English but seemed to gesture to the right, so we went right), a few missed turns, and dealing with the rudest tourist desk lady ever hired, we hopped on a waterbus to San Marco, Venice, where our hotel was. It’s hard to explain how immediately unique Venice was until you hop on a waterbus, passing gondolas parked next to beautiful ornate buildings, and actually see the bridges and canals. You can tell right away that your visions of Venice weren’t far off- it really is the City of Water!

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Canals in Venice- parts of the city were dark even during the day
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Men stood on the bridges asking if you’d like a gondola ride

After getting to San Marco, we attempted to find our hotel room to drop off our things before wandering around the city. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked through a corn maze, but take that experience, add street signs in Italian, canals and bridges, dark, narrow streets, luggage, and people attempting to get you to eat/buy things, and you’ll have a better understanding of Venetian streets. It was a very touristy city, and most storefronts had masks, Merano blown glass, magnets and keychains for sale. Eventually, we wandered through the city for long enough to find the hotel on a side street we had passed three times already. It was a serious relief to put down my overpacked duffel bag, and we quickly went back out into the city to explore.

IMG_4441I have no idea how they got a tree to San Marco, but it was enormous and beautiful

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It gets dark quickly these days- this was probably 7pm, and the sun had set at 4:30ish
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Piazza San Marco- the main city center in Venice
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Saint Mark’s Basilica- under construction as most buildings seem to be 

After wandering for awhile, we stopped at a restaurant that offered a tourist deal of a good meal, dessert, and a free peach bellini as a welcome gift. Most restaurants in the cities we visited had waiters standing outside asking if you’d like to eat, handing you menus, and pressuring you to come inside. It’s definitely different. Venice was gorgeous, and one day was a perfect amount of time to be there. The next day, we woke up to breakfast brought to our room, drank some coffee and ate a quick meal, and hit the road for stop number two- Florence!

Florence was probably the stop I was looking forward to the most. As some of you know, I’m a slight art nerd, and the prospect of seeing Michelangelo’s David in person had me more than a little excited to reach the city. We actually took a train from Venice to Florence, which was the first long-distance journey I’d done via train. The ride went smoothly, and we made it to Florence in the early afternoon. After the trek to the hotel, we got a map of the city from the front desk, asked about the major sightseeing stops and where to find them, and planned our two days. It worked out that we were able to see David the first night, and we left the hotel to venture back into the city. Florence didn’t have the same closed-in atmosphere as Venice, and had wider streets and no canals. The tourist items for sale were also different. While Venice focused on blown glass items and masks, Florence was filled with leather goods for sale. It was interesting to see that even the tourist shops differed in the two cities.

When we reached the museum where David is located, we sort of did a double take. For a building housing one of the most famous statues in the world, the Accademia gallery was far more average looking than we anticipated. We also expected a longer line, but after waiting for about 10 minutes, we were in the building and had purchased tickets. Now, I hope I’m not spoiling anything by writing this, but one of the most incredible things about the David statue is the moment you see it. One second, you’re walking through a room with some paintings on the wall that you don’t recognize (and honestly, aren’t looking at very carefully because DAVID IS HERE SOMEWHERE), and when you turn the corner, you’re met by a long hallway, and through the arch at the end the statue is framed and is just suddenly there. It’s incredible that a marble statue can jump out at you like that. The hall to reach the statue is lined with unfinished works of Michelangelo, and the rough forms of men seem to reach through the marble as if struggling to get out of the stone. Even in their unfinished forms, the humanness of the statues is a little unnerving. You don’t even really see them to begin with, because David just draws you down the hallway. We were lucky to be there during a quieter hour, and there weren’t many people there. A couple of classes of students sat on the floor, being forced to sketch the statue by teachers, and their disinterest was obvious. The statue is on a pedestal, surrounded by a barrier to prevent you from getting too close. There are no benches in front of the statue, probably due to the massive crowds that I’m sure form there during rush hours. The ceiling forms a dome above the statue, and you can completely circle the room to see every angle of the work. I couldn’t believe how large David was. It’s easy to read that the statue is 30 something feet tall, but until you’re standing there attempting to stare without looking too creepy, I don’t think you can fully absorb that fact.

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Unfinished Michelangelo Work

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Unfinished Michelangelo Work

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The Man of the Hour

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The Accademia

There’s not much I can say about the statue that hasn’t already been said, and my pictures are far worse than the ones you can find on google images. Needless to say I crossed off a major bucket list item, and seriously recommend seeing David in person someday. You don’t have to be an art nerd to appreciate that room.

After several attempts to drag ourselves away, we left the museum and went into the city to grab something to eat. We went to a couple bars, and stayed out late. We made it back to the hotel and woke up a little bit later than anticipated the next morning. The next day was filled with more art, more wandering, and me attempting to shake a slight hangover (oops). Another art-nerd moment happened when we went to the Uffizi Gallery, and saw Boticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera (Allegory of Spring). These are some of the most famous artworks ever created. The Uffizi gallery also has works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. It’s a beautiful museum, and I seriously recommend you see it at some point.

Our day in Florence ended at one of the highest points in the city. Our hotel concierge recommended a hilltop to watch the sunset. We were joined by many students who had spent a semester abroad in the city, and the as sun went down many champagne bottles popped and students cheered to a great semester. It was a happy coincidence that we were there, but we got to see a wonderful sunset that made the climb up the hill worth it.

IMG_4560IMG_4564.JPGGoodnight Florence

On Thursday, we took a bus from Florence to Rome in the late morning. I fell asleep on the bus, and woke up to a concerned Italian man in the seat in front of me offering me his jacket as a pillow… I’m pretty sure my contorted neck and loud snores worried him. We arrived safely in Rome, and checked into our hostel. This time, we shared a room for 6, and attempted to claim bunkbeds close to each other. We asked the concierge for a map and some good sightseeing locations. We quickly figured out the metro, and managed to make our way to the Colosseum before sunset. That was another “woah” moment. Stepping out of a modern metro tunnel and looking up to see the colosseum across the street is a definite experience. The mixture of old and new is disconcerting in Rome, especially when you’ve seen pictures of the historic monuments since you were a kid. You never picture them as existing in a busy city, but they’re not exactly isolated places. Unfortunately, the Colosseum wasn’t open, so we took a lap, and promised to make it back in the morning.

We continued walking as the sun set, and passed a large monument we later found out is called the “Alter of the Fatherland.” It was beautifully lit up at night, and guards stood outside on the steps. It was also massive! It’s much more impressive than many American monuments I’ve seen. Italy knows how to honor the fatherland.

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Alter of the Fatherland

After walking around, we made our way to another big stop, the Trevi Fountain. We were extremely lucky with timing on this one, as the fountain just underwent a 2.2 million dollar renovation, including cleaning and new lighting, and reopened in November. After seeing it in person, I can safely say that the fountain looks incredible. We sat by the fountain for a little bit, we each made a couple wishes (making sure to toss the pennies in the right way) and took some pictures, before going to a restaurant nearby for dinner. Once again, dinner didn’t disappoint.

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Post dinner, we decided to wander back to the Trevi fountain. We grabbed some gelato and sat to watch the fountain. About ten minutes later, all of the lights shut off, and the crowd started booing. In another one of our weirdly good luck moments, we had actually come back just in time to see a new light installation. The campaign to get the 2020 Olympics in Rome had created a projection display that played on the Trevi Fountain to promote their work. It was really cool to see firsthand, and Rome officially has my vote for the Olympics, if only so I can go back someday.

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Before

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After

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Lots and LOTS of people

IMG_4641Goodnight Roma!

Our final day in Italy was a full one. We started the morning by revisiting the Colosseum. From the outside, it’s very impressive, but it’s the inside where you can see just how large the structure is. It was incredible to walk around and imagine the events that would have been held there. It’s pretty cool that human beings invented and built arenas for sports all the way back to the gladiators! After walking through the Colosseum, we crossed the piazza to walk through the Roman Forum. This is a large area of ruins, and it’s open to the public with a ticket to the Colosseum. We took some pictures from a hill over the forum, but didn’t stay too long. We had a lot to accomplish 🙂

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Cheesin
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No Russell Crowe to be found, unfortunatelyIMG_4689
The Roman Forum

The next stop was the Vatican city. If you’re not Catholic, or even particularly religious at all, this place is still a must see simply because so many people in this world ARE. It’s the center of one of the biggest religions in the world, and I would argue it’s worth seeing simply for the history there. Vatican City is actually its own country within Italy, and has strict rules for how to behave and dress. (No problems for us at this time of year, but no inappropriate clothing, shoulders and knees can’t be visible) It’s the smallest recognized independent state in the world. We first visited the Vatican Museum, and then went around the wall to see St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

I was largely unaware that the Vatican has one of the largest, most impressive art collections in the world (which was kind of a “duh” moment for me.. oops). I could have spent hours in the art galleries alone, and seeing the frescos on the walls. The Vatican includes pieces by Salvador Dali, Boticelli, Bernini, Michelangelo, and Raphael in their massive collection, and you could spend days looking at the separate rooms and ceilings alone. We didn’t have that time, so I took in as much as I could while we were there.

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Stairs in the museum- look how artsy I am! 😉
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Various frescos in the Vatican

The “big two” of the Vatican are St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We saw the Chapel first. Back in high school, I was required to read a book titled Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. It described the process of creating the chapel, from selecting Michelangelo to descriptions of the artwork itself and what it represented. As a self-proclaimed “art kid” I was fascinated by the methods and work that the Sistine Chapel required- can you imagine painting an entire ceiling laying on your back?! The real thing lived up to and exceeded every expectation I could have had. I have no pictures from this part of the tour, as they were forbidden. I wasn’t disappointed by that rule, however, because any picture I could take on my iPhone would never do that room justice. I spent my time there with a sore neck, trying to take in the magnitude of that ceiling.

After the Sistine Chapel, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica. This building was designed in part by Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, and is one of the most intricate Renaissance buildings ever built. When we visited, the Holy Door, which is only opened on very special religious occasions such as Jubilee Years, was open. Entering the church through this door has historically represented crossing the threshold into the presence of God, and the forgiveness of the pilgrim’s sins. We entered the Basilica through this door, and were immediately struck by the interior of the church. The ceiling, walls, and floor were decorated with gilded designs, angels, and great statues lined the aisles within the building. The canopy over the alter was designed by Bernini, and is a massive wooden sculpture lying directly beneath a dome lit by windows. To give you a sense of the scale, the letters around the top of the walls are 2 meters high- 6.6 feet – but they look small in all photos. This is a place where the atmosphere sort of speaks for itself. Although it was full of tourists and people who had traveled great distances to see this holy site, it was nearly silent. There was an area where visitors could pray privately, but the majority of the church was open to pictures and exploration. This is also the site of Michelangelo’s Pieta statue. The statue depicts Jesus lying in Mary’s lap following the crucifixion. It is the only artwork that Michelangelo ever signed. It was an incredibly moving site, and well worth visiting.

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A terrible picture of the PietaIMG_4716
Those letters up top are 6 feet tall… this place is enormousIMG_4713Trying to get the full size of St. Peters- vertical panorama doesn’t do it justice

When we left St. Peter’s, the sun was setting. We decided to go to one more historical site, and walked across Rome to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was built in ancient rome, and has stayed very well preserved. Today, 2,000 years after it was built, it still has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. While not as extravagant as St. Peter’s, it is an incredible glimpse into history. The Pantheon was thought to be finished in ~126 A.D. Standing in that dome and realizing how much older that it was than my home country was awe inspiring. It would probably be much more impressive in the daylight, when the light streams through the oculus, but it was something that we wanted to see before we left.

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After our busy day, we wanted to sit down and eat a nice dinner. We chose a restaurant in the piazza near the Pantheon, and sat outside. (Which was incredible itself- December, and eating outside? Yes, please) As we watched the sun go down and ordered our food, entertainers including guitar players and bands, and even an opera singer, performed in the piazza. It was the perfect end to such an amazing week with my best friends. Our dinner was excellent, the site was beautiful, and as we sat there and talked about our week it hit us just how many incredible things we had seen. It was a little humbling to realize that we had only been in one country for that week, and I still felt as though we hadn’t hit everything. I’ve always had “travel” in broad terms on my bucket list, but being here has made me realize that it’s not enough to just put that off as “someday,” and that it’s more of a priority than I had previously thought. “Someday” is too passive, and if I can spend a whole week going to the “big sites” Italy and still feel rushed, I’m going to be dedicating a lot of time going to the places on my list during my life. It’s also made me excited to see more of the world. The travel bug is real people!

We had a crazy early flight from Rome to Munich in the morning, and left the hostel around 5:30am. The flight went smoothly, and we arrived back to Munich on Saturday morning. We somehow dragged our way from the airport, onto the train, back to the city and to Mac and Kayla’s apartment. I laid on the couch for the rest of the day, and seriously considered icing my feet because they were so sore. Over the next couple days, I did some homework, watched a lot of netflix, and recovered from our in-depth Italy tour.

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Mac’s family arrived early in the week, and it was fun to spend time in Munich with them. We toured all of the best spots (Haufbrauhaus for extra large beers 🙂 ) and they were able to take some tours to learn more about the city. On Wednesday that week, Kayla left for Florida to see UConn play in a bowl game (lucky duck, Christmas on the beach) and Mac, her family, and I left for Austria to stay in a ski resort for the holiday. I was very #blessed to be able to spend the holidays with them, and realized it as soon as we took the train into Seefeld. What an amazing town! Surrounded by mountains, it was the sight of some events in the 1964 and 1976 Olympics, and has a great ski culture…. when there’s snow. The owner of the hotel we stayed in expressed his regrets that there was no snow, but we told him we didn’t ski and didn’t mind so much. Each night the hotel served a different 4-5 course meal, and breakfast was available with eggs cooked just how you liked. Needless to say, we were very happy with the food. We stopped the first day to grab a bottle of wine and spent the afternoon on the back balcony of our room, looking out at the mountains near the town. It was a great start to the first few real relaxing vacation days I’ve had since I’ve been in Europe.

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Seefeld

We spent the next few days exploring. One day, we spent the afternoon hiking around the hills and lakes. Another was spent at the Christmas market in town. We spent Christmas Eve listening to a church service in German, and walked out of the church to music in the piazza and the champagne we had bought earlier in the town. Christmas morning, we took the train back into Innsbruck, and went up the Nordkettenbahn. This combination ski lift/train system takes you to the top of the mountains that surround Innsbruck, Austria. At each stage of the trek up, we were amazed at how high up we were. The next step would be even more impressive, until finally we climbed to the very peak of the mountain. At the top there was a large wooden cross, and a site that looked over the valley on one side, and the alps extending to the horizon on the other. It was the perfect way to remind yourself just how beautiful it is out here, how lucky we are to be here, and was the perfect start to Christmas. Christmas dinner was incredible. A full 8 courses full of beautiful dishes that I would never be able to make myself. One course actually included pigeon! I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be requesting again any time soon, but it was very cool to try new things.

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The alps went on forever
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The other side of the mountain- that’s Innsbruck belowIMG_4830Where I was at the moment

After the holidays, and spending several days in the Austrian Alps, it was time for the vacation to end, and we packed up and returned to Munich. I spent a couple more days with Mac and her family, and returned to Bolzano for a week. I did a lot of homework, a lot of laying in bed resting my still-sore feet, and a lot of laundry after two weeks away from home. It was an incredible way to end 2015, and I can’t complain about a single part! I’ll end this post on New Years, which I spent with teammates. We had a group of girls over to our apartment for the night, and we made a big dinner of zucchini soup, veggies, and beef. We popped several champagne bottles, and cabbed into the city to celebrate the end of the year. The piazza near Temple Bar (my true home in Bolzano) held a big party with live music. We had a blast listening to the music, dancing, and counting down to 2016. I wouldn’t have spent it anywhere else!

I know I’m very, very behind on all of this. I’m sorry for the long post! I have some more fun stories to tell about the start of 2016, including a visit from my friend Courtney from home, but I don’t think I can type anymore and I’m sure you don’t want to read anymore. The semi-scary thing is that I feel like I’m brushing over details here. It’s hard to put into words some of the things I’ve seen and done in the last month. I hope you can forgive my poor descriptions of some pretty life changing moments. My best solution- come see them for yourselves! I swear you won’t regret it (or if you do, by that time I’ll probably be across the ocean where you can’t get me).

I’m excited to get back to “normal” here for a bit. Hockey starts up again this week, as does homework and school. I can’t wait to get back on the ice with the Eagles. The other American, Chelsea, finally arrived and I can’t wait to meet in person! She helped me a lot when preparing for Italy.

12274240_535564029942114_8140742961941033588_nBack on the ice this week for the second half of the season!

Here’s where I log off, and go to watch my little sister and the U18 women’s national team beat up on Canada. It’s 1:30 am here, so I’m claiming the title of best fan/most supportive big sister ever. Sending all my love, and my hopes for a great 2016 across the ocean. I miss you all, and can’t wait to see you. Ciao everyone!

Snoodles

 

IMG_4888The Christmas I missed- Love from (and for) the Snodgrass Family

 

 

It’s the little things..

IMG_4207I love coffee, and drink far too much of it here.

I know that I recently posted about November, but I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile now. I’ve mentioned it before, but coming to Italy from the Twin Cities was a huge culture shock for me. I went from the Mall of America, 24-hour-stores and dinners on St. Paul rooftops to quiet cafes and a bus line that stops at 8pm..not to mention this is all in another language! I’ve had some big experiences here, and been to many new countries, but it’s the little things that really stand out as being different. I’ve obviously been noticing the differences here, so I thought I would share a few that make me smile every time I pick up on them. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed/experienced/laughed at:

  1. Cars are so small! It makes sense in such a tiny country with small roads, but I swear I’ve only seen 3 pickup trucks in my two months. I have also seen 2 PT Cruisers… they stick out even more here than in the US.
  2. Small also applies to the coffee. I’ve had many coffee dates, but there’s no slow sipping giant starbucks creations here- it’s mostly macchiatos, cappuccinos, or espresso, in teeny-tiny cups. I LOVE Italian coffee, but I get weird looks when I order more than one. So instead I cafe-hop like the crazed caffeine addict I am.
  3. McDonald’s and Burger King are rare in Bolzano. It’s a big deal that there is going to be a second McDonald’s in the area soon… instead of burgers, fast food places consist of pizza places. Also, if you dip french fries in your ice cream you will get the STRANGEST looks.
  4. Speaking of food, I’ve had multiple Italians tease me about “American” food being all burgers and fries. I’ve had trouble explaining that BBQ and burgers are American, but we’re just as likely to get tacos or pasta or thai food or sushi… It’s difficult to describe typical “American” food- try it yourself! I struggle with explaining this still.
  5. Italians have issues with spicy food. They would hate Chipotle, which breaks my heart just a little bit.
  6. My roommate Mia speaks English, but it’s a bit limited. Some of our idioms and common phrases had her giving me a blank stare. I took it upon myself to teach Mia some new stuff.. The first word I taught her was “hooker” (I swear it was an accident- I mentioned the multiple women on street corners on our way to practice one night and the vocab lesson just sort of happened…) and followed that up by teaching her what “going commando” meant. The best part was Mia couldn’t quite get the “oo” sound right in the word hooker, and instead pronounces it with the “oo” sound in “who.” It makes me laugh every time.
  7. Mia taught me how to say “how much for the night” in anticipation of asking one of these nice ladies on a streetcorner to satisfy our curiosity on salary, before we speed off in Mia’s miniscule car. I’m not sure how well this plan will work, but I’m sure it will be hilarious. (I’ve also started naming ladies on streetcorners and giving them backstories. This usually happens when I’m overly tired on the way home from practice. For reference, Treasure is usually by the roundabout, and she hangs out with Cinnamon and Kandi. They’re friends.)
  8. The scene in the movie Eurotrip of the Italian man getting more and more friendly/creepy on the train while saying “mi scusi” has never been funnier than when I watched it with actual Italians.
  9. I try my best to order here in Italian. Sometimes, it works better than others. After one of my stumbling attempts to pay for my cappuccino and water, the cashier (who spoke perfect English) congratulated me on tripping through the words. I get laughed at by waiters a lot here.
  10. I got chastised by an older Irish gentleman at Temple Bar (where I basically live) when he caught me on my phone with my biochemistry book open. It didn’t help my studying habits much because the bartender proceeded to yell “why don’t you keep your nose out of other people’s business, Jeffery!” and the tongue-in-cheek argument in Irish accents that sprung up was much better than reading.
  11. I will never dress as cool as older Italian women do. Biking while smoking should never be something to aspire to, but crap do they look smooth.
  12. Italians think chicken on pizza is the grossest thing they can imagine. On the other hand, I’ve seen tuna and corn on pizza here. My teammates play the trump card of “Italy invented pizza so we know what’s normal” often when I bring this up.
  13. There is no premade salad dressing here. I have a couple teammates who studied in America and they mentioned this too. Oil and vinegar here, no fat-free ranch or Italian dressing to be found.
  14. Italians also classify pasta differently. When I mentioned that I was eating a lot of pasta, and was worried about the carbo-loading I was inadvertently doing, they asked if I had tried other foods…..like lasagna or tortellini. I had to break it to them that in America we still count those as pasta. They laughed and said “yeah I guess so, but it’s different!” I love my teammates.
  15. A lot of these observations are about food. Oops.
  16. Italian university students dress nicer to go to the library than any student athlete I know dresses for a class presentation. Loving the American Slob vibes.
  17. I’ve started singing along to Italian commercials. I have no idea what I’m singing. This could end badly.
  18. I may not hear Adele on the radio, but my team is obsessed with that damn song. You haven’t really experienced “Hello” until it’s sung every time someone enters the locker room, in a thick Italian/German Italian accent. Ridiculous.
  19. I LOVE the Christmas Market. It’s beautiful. There’s lights and a giant tree and stalls with vendors selling everything from slippers to chocolate to specialty ornaments. A couple of the stalls sell Gluewein, which is mulled wine with cinnamon, and other spices, and it’s delicious. It should just always be Christmas time here.
  20. I was looking for cards to make flashcards here, and there’s nothing similar in stores. Italy is really green conscious, and takes recycling very seriously. You also have to bring your own bags to the grocery store, or pay for biodegradable ones, as plastic bags are banned.
  21. The Italian mail system is hilarious. I  recently received a package from home, and put the actual value of the clothes inside on the tax form. I got a call from the mail center saying I should just put 30-40 euros (aka lie), or the taxes would be annoyingly high. Imagine getting that call in the US? Never, pay your overly high taxes, dummy!
  22. Seriously, the food is really good.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope some of these make you laugh a little bit, like they did/do for me! The holidays are coming up, and I will be super busy for the next two weeks. I have some classwork to finish up this week, packages to mail by friday, and games this weekend. After that I’m spending a week with Mac and Kay going on a tour of Italy 🙂 I’ll spend Christmas with Mac’s family (who I can’t wait to see) and then come back to Bolzano for the second half of the season.

I also have more good news to throw in at the end of this blog post! It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, so please keep the good news coming! I’ve received news that some important people from UConn are expecting some new faces (one set of twins on the way!). I’m not sure who’s comfortable/wants me sharing what news, so I’ll keep it vague, but I CANNOT WAIT to get back to Connecticut to say hi and give them the giant hugs that I’m stifling at the moment. It is physically painful not to be home to celebrate with these wonderful people, but I know I have some great husky ambassadors somewhat filling my spot. AH! Babies!!

I most likely won’t write again until after December, and I hope everyone has a happy holiday season! Enjoy your time with loved ones and friends, and know that I miss you all, my dog, and my home(s) very much! Love from Italy!

Ciao,
Snoodles

Sono Grata

Hello again, friends and family! November has come to an end, and I thought I should update my blog about this crazy month before December (and more craziness) comes along.

The first thing that I have to write is that my grandmother underwent open heart surgery this month- it was planned, and not an emergency procedure, but it’s not exactly the type of news I recommend getting via text when in another country. She toughed it out, and it went well, and she’s recovering now. I’m extremely grateful that her doctors and my mom, aunts and uncles were there to help her and my grandpa deal with the aftermath of such a huge surgery. That was absolutely the first thing I counted my blessings for on non-holiday Thanksgiving random thursday here in Italy.

IMG_4072Thankful for this strong woman 

The month of November started with something rare- a weekend off! I met up with Kayla and Mac again for the weekend. The girls came down to Bolzano on Friday, we dropped off their stuff at my apartment, and we went into the city to walk around and stop at a couple cafes along the way. We had coffees and pizza bread, and eventually ended up at the Temple Bar where we had a beer and caught up. (Side note- the Temple Bar is my new favorite place in Bolzano. The owners are Irish, speak english, and it’s got the greatest pub atmosphere I’ve found yet!)

Eventually, we hopped on a bus, stopped at the  grocery store, and grabbed a pizza at another restaurant before going to the rink to meet up with the rest of the Eagles. We drank a bit, went to a girl named Ele’s apartment where everyone ate pasta and listened to music before heading out to the bar. The night ended relatively early, and we took a cab back to Cardano to sleep at my apartment for the night, and rest up for the bus trip the next day!

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In the morning, we woke up and packed our things for the weekend. We walked around Bolzano a little more and caught a bus in the early afternoon back to Munich. When we got there, it was early evening and we had a quiet night. The next day, we got on a bus for Zurich, Switzerland. We stopped and picked up two more imports, Sarah and Kaitlyn, who play for another team in Germany. Once we arrived in Zurich, we stopped at the Starbucks (!!!) to plan our day while we had wifi.

We wandered around the city, and happened upon a museum that was full of historic cultural artifacts. Honestly, I was glad we were there on a Sunday and shops were mostly closed, because Zurich is pricey! Glad I’m not spending six months there, because my lack of self control would make my bank account suffer. For lunch, we found a random spot that seemed nice enough to eat, and took an elevator to a 4th floor balcony to grab some food. We paid for the food by weight, which was new, and it all seemed to be vegetarian.. after googling the restaurants name, one of the girls found out that we were actually eating in the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world! It was a very random discovery, but the food was good and we laughed pretty hard at our luck.

The highlight of the trip was taking a train to the top of a mountain to get the views of Zurich from above. We got very lucky, and the weather was gorgeous. The mountaintop had restaurants and there were people drinking beers and taking pictures everywhere. It was a very cool experience. After a little more wandering, we said goodbye to the other imports and got on our bus back to Munich. I left the next morning, and arrived in Bolzano on Monday afternoon. It was an awesome way to start my second month here, and gave me a good dose of friends from home to get me through the next few weeks.

IMG_4129Zurich

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I like to call this “Fabulous Jesus,” a stained glass window from the Zurich Cultural Museum

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We had a good weekend 🙂

The other weekends in November were focused on hockey. We played in Salzburg on the 14th, at home the 21st and 22nd against Vienna, and this past weekend, we travelled to Bratislava, Slovakia for a two game series. This month saw the eagles improve to 4-6. One of the biggest wins of the month was a victory in the first game of the Vienna series. I’m not sure about now, but at the time they were the #1 team in the league. My second day in Italy we had lost 9-1 against them, and it was a good feeling to win that game in particular. It was a great moment for the team, and the girls are getting stronger each game. It’s difficult to come from Division I hockey, with certain principles and skills hammered into my brain to realize that Italian hockey doesn’t focus on all the same things. My team is also very young, and are still learning. I’m learning myself, and trying to fit into the systems here, and it’s definitely something I struggled with to start. In addition, the other American (Chelsea Furlani, who recently received her Italian citizenship) should be arriving soon, and as a leader on the team her return will be great for team morale. It’s going to be fun to see where the team goes from here.

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Side Note: Bratislava is not exactly for everybody

On the 15th, I turned 23 years old (gulp). This was one of the tamest birthdays I’ve had in years, and I spent the day watching netflix, and went into the city for a hot chocolate with Bea, a friend from the team in the afternoon. It was a nice way to end the weekend. I loved hearing from friends and family back home, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to facetime with my family.

Unfortunately for me, Thanksgiving doesn’t exist on this side of the ocean, so I had to forgo my favorite holiday this year. While the lack of stuffing and pie might have been a depressing event, the Christmas market in Bolzano opened last Thursday, so I had a couple glasses of gluewein to celebrate instead 🙂 The market is open every day from now until Christmas, and I can imagine taking a few study breaks here and there to buy some gifts for friends and family. I won’t be home this year for Christmas either, which will be my first Christmas without family ever. It’ll be strange, but I’m looking forward to traveling some more with Mac and Kayla, and spending the holidays with Mac and her family.

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IMG_4250Christmas market- opening night!

I never really explained the title for this post, but it’s an Italian phrase that means “I’m grateful.” I actually got it from a friend in CT, who likes to send me updates and keeps me sane. It was from a post by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, which is also one of my favorite film adaptions of a book (yes, it’s corny). She talked about being grateful and seeing the positives in every experience, and not comparing your life with anyone else’s. In this time of instagram filters and 140-character lives, it’s easy to get caught up in how amazing someone else’s life looks. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now, thinking “well you’re in friggin’ Italy, easy for you to say,” and you’d mostly be right. It IS beautiful here, and I’m soaking in as much as I can, but my pictures don’t show reality. I spend many of my days in a university library studying biochemistry, trying to figure out grocery shopping and maybe eat something other than pasta, and going to hockey. It’s far from an Italian dream vacation, but I am so grateful to have this chance. Sometimes/often I get lonely, or miss friends from home, or even start reminiscing about college hockey, which is fine. It doesn’t have to be a positive experience every day for the outcome to be a good one. Some days suck, but the good ones are really, really good. Those are why I’m here, and that’s why I’m grateful. So, that’s my deep, rambly thought of the day.

As another note- I have to mention my brother and sister here for a second. My little sister committed to play Division I Ice Hockey for UConn earlier this month, and made the US U18 team roster again recently. I mentioned most of that in my last post, and I’m still incredibly proud of her. More recently (today) my little brother announced that he’s committed to play Division I Ice Hockey for Colgate. He’s played two years of junior hockey, moving from the NAHL to the USHL, proving himself a leader each place he goes, and never giving up his goal to play #cawlidgehockey. I’m so proud that his hard work has paid off. For such a large pain in the ass, he is actually a pretty great brother, and he completely earned this. Might actually have to cheer for the toothpaste team someday…

IMG_4944Love these guys, and can’t wait ’till we’re all back together 🙂

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now! Same old same old here in Bolzano, really. Please stay safe in the snowy weather back home, and know that although I didn’t have a turkey this Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for each of you. Keep me updated on your own adventures!

Cheers from Italy!
Snoodles

 IMG_4071Coffee break with some eagles (left to right Hannah, Samy, and Bea)

 

 

 

 

So two Americans and a Canadian walk into a German beer hall…

Hello friends and family and people I miss! I know it’s been ages since I posted here.. I apologize for my lack of writing. The funny thing is, I already had this post written, and my sketchy Italian wifi managed to erase it… I pouted and didn’t rewrite it and so I’m finally getting off my butt to do just that! So… hello!

It’s been over a month since my last post (crap), and a lot has happened! When I wrote to you last, I was about a week in, hadn’t done much traveling, and was still totally terrified to talk to anyone other than my teammates. I’m now ~two months in, I’ve seen Mac and Kayla, been to Munich twice, Zurich, Hungary, and Austria a couple times too, and I’m sliiiightly less terrified to talk to waiters/etc. Growth, people!

So let’s start where I left off. The week of October 15th, I hopped on a bus to Munich to visit Kayla and Mac for a couple days. For those of you that don’t know, they were my linemates/best friends/roommates/sanity back in college. Now, they’re four hours away from me in Europe so life is pretty good. I managed not to miss my bus (because I was a full 45 minutes early..oops) and made it to Munich without a hitch! My phone stopped working as soon as I crossed the Italian border, which had me in a bit of a panic, but I found Kay and Mac really easily at the bus station, so no need to attempt any German.

After picking me up, we took a quick ride on public transportation to their place, dropped off my stuff, and wandered into Munich! Unlike me, Mac and Kay don’t live in a “suburb,” but rather right in the city! I got there in the early afternoon, and we wandered for a bit, had an AWESOME lunch (probably the best I’d had since in Europe):

IMG_3780Lunch in Munich

and went to a beer hall. I loved seeing the city, and it was nice to grab a beer with friends. I think that’s still my biggest “aw shucks” thing about being out here alone. I wish I had gone on this adventure with a friend from home, but at the same time I’m very proud that I’ve managed to stay sane in Italy on my own.. mixed feelings, and they change depending on the day. But safe to say, I was very happy for a reunion.

ANYWAYS (no more sappy stuff I swear) while we were at the beer hall, we ran into a group of people we had seen around the city earlier that day. To set the scene, imagine walking through an underground train station in Germany, and seeing a group of like 30 guys all wearing Ricky Gervais masks on the back of their heads. It was bizarre, and we laughed, but had to run to catch our train so we didn’t get to ask what on Earth they were doing. Cut to later that day, in the beer hall, and the Ricky Gervais gang wanders in, with more guys, and at a higher level of intoxication than we’d last seen them. They immediately became the loudest group in the place, and stood on tables, chanting, and chugging (strong!) German beer until we had to know what was going on.

I wandered over and asked a soberish looking man in a horrible tie what was happening. He pointed to his friend, a large man who was wearing soccer shorts and a jersey I can only assume were made for a small woman, and a bright red wig. He explained that they were from England, and they were in Munich to celebrate this guy’s stag (bachelor) party. Before we knew it, we were smashed on benches between drunk Englishmen, learning drinking games (if someone slipped a golfball in your stein, you had to finish it!) and getting free beer! It was hilarious to look around and just sort of absorb what was happening, but eventually we had to say goodbye to the group of 45 drunk men and move on.

IMG_3906Prost! to being reunited

After touring Munich for a bit, we went to one of the girls’ teammates apartments for dinner. Homemade pizza is so much better out here.. I seriously recommend it if you get the chance! We drank some more beers, told a couple embarrassing stories about college, and just had a very relaxed night. We went back to the apartment, and hit the hay. The next day, Kayla’s mom arrived for a visit! We were picked up in the am by the owner of Mac and Kayla’s team. We drove to the airport in this giant van (which the team uses to travel) and the speeds and partial deafness of our driver (I believe his name was Klaus? It’s been awhile.. ) made for an interesting wake up call. Ah, the autobahn in the morning! After a semi-emotional reunion with Jackie, we stopped for breakfast. No eggs and bacon here.. Weisswurst and a tall beer at 9:30am made for a strong start to the day.

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BMW!

IMG_3784One of the few pictures I actually took of Munich

We toured Munich and walked to the Olympic park, the BMW buildings, and dinner, and wandered back home for a movie night. The next morning I hopped on a bus back to Bolzano, and while I was sad to go, I was (and am) very grateful for the boost a quick visit with friends gave me.

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After arriving back home in Bolzano, things went back to “normal.” I had hockey practice a few days a week, tried to stay up to date on things like dental school applications, and spent a lot of time walking around the city. While it was great to have so much free time, it got to be dangerous.. BZ is a city based largely on shopping, and I couldn’t afford to have too much free time! I signed up for an online biochemistry course, which I’m now spending a large part of my days on, and it’s given me something to focus on.

At the end of October, the team packed up for a weekend series in Budapest! I was very excited to cross another country off my list. We managed to win the one game in a shootout (which I scored in- finally!) and the second in overtime, earning 4 of 6 points on the weekend. We didn’t get to see a ton of Budapest, but it was very cool to be in yet another country in my first month here!

IMG_3949The rink in Budapest- the spikes on top lit up at night!

I also had a dental school interview at the end of the month. I was very excited, and lucky that the school allowed me to interview via skype. It was a learning experience, and while I’m sure many people can say they’ve interviewed for a position at a school, not all can say they’ve done it from an ice rink in Italy!

IMG_4021Ready to go in my last-minute interview suit

And that was October! I don’t want to make this post ridiculously long, so I’ll write one in the next few days for the start of November. I’m so sorry I’m behind- I’ll try to do better. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes this last weekend! They mean a lot. I’ve gotten better at keeping in touch. I’ve received letters from friends back home (Ohio’s mail system had issues finding Italy but that’s completely unsurprising) which I love. It can get a bit lonely now and then, but don’t worry guys- the local Irish pub serves beer AND they speak English. I’m coping 😉

A couple things to summarize:
-I was SO wrong when I thought bus rides were long in college
-You can be the strongest person in the world, but sometimes we all need a friend.
-Drunk English bachelor parties are awesome/hilarious
-Too many dad jokes about being “Hungary” for a win
-Interviews on skype are best when figure skating practice isn’t playing weird music in the background, and your interviewer asks (incredulously) if you’re listening to music while doing this
-Ohio’s mail system sucks
-I took things like peanut butter for granted
-I really love Bolzano
-But I still miss home

SIDE NOTE: Exciting news people, that I don’t know how many of you have heard/probably know- my little sister Natalie has committed to play hockey at the University of Connecticut! Unfortunately, the number 62 will stay in retirement, but I am so excited to see Snodgrass back on that jersey. I’m so proud of her accomplishments, and she’s the most deserving kid this could happen for. Glad to see that all of her hard work, and my amazing teaching skills, have all paid off. Can’t wait to have more of my records broken.. that’s what little sisters are for, right? #bleedblue

So – signing off from Italy, and hoping that everyone and everything is good back home,
Emily/Snoodles/Snods/anything else you weirdos call me

Ciao!

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Mamma Mia! (AKA Week One in Italy)

Hello again, my friends, family, and random facebook connections. I’m finally in the land of pizza, pasta, and wine and thought I should post an update! Forgive me, this will probably be a long one. In the last week a whole lot has gone on. With limited ability to communicate, this is a great way to let you all know what’s up! (Plus I’m 7 hours ahead of Minnesota so I can’t exactly call anyone in the morning to chat).

I took off last Thursday from Minnesota, had a quick layover in Philly (aka I ran to my next gate), before boarding my 8-hour flight to Munich. My dad pulled off a miracle to get my visa back by messenger before I left, and my mom took me to the airport. I managed to avoid an embarrassing, teary goodbye simply because I was so excited to get on the plane!

IMG_3273Bye Mom </3

My quick flight to Philadelphia went off without a hitch, and I managed to get onto my plane to Munich just fine. Unfortunately for me, one of the first announcements the pilots made was that the A/C on the plane was not working- that meant no cold air until we were above the clouds. While sitting in our seats and sweating, I got to know my neighbors for this overnight flight. I sat in a row of four, second in from the aisle. My neighbors were:

1.   A German teenager who didn’t wear enough deoderant for the A/C not to work.

2.   An American soldier who drank his entire bottle of duty free whiskey, despite multiple warnings from the flight attendant that it was illegal to do so. He offered me a sip plenty of times, but luckily he got tipsy enough to pass out, shortly after telling me he’d like to take me to dinner some time.

3.   And finally, a German-American grandmother who told me I wasn’t drinking my complementary in-flight wine fast enough for her liking. While embarrassing, I also found this hilarious.

Me and the 3 amigos made it safely to Munich, where I made it through customs even though the man who stamped my passport gave me a strange look when I said I was here to play professional hockey. In the airport, I met my team Manager, Manni, and another guy who works for the team named Sandro. We hopped in the car and drove to Bolzano! During the three hour ride I nodded off here and there, but I was glued to the window, staring at the scenery for the whole ride.

When we arrived in Bolzano, I met my roommates. I’m living with Mia, an Italian girl, and Dalene, the other import, who is from South Africa. Thank god Mia was stuck with us, because she basically fed us and helped us not get run over by a bike for the first few days. I was in such a haze, I basically owe it to her that I didn’t run back to the airport and fly home (though I really, really wanted to at some points)

IMG_3315Home sweet home for the next 6 months

Speaking of which, that’s the one thing they don’t really tell you in all the travel blogs. Sure, it’s beautiful and amazing, and my team is awesome and nice and speak english, but WOW was it hard to move to Italy! Maybe in my excitement I glazed over the fact that I was moving to a country where I wouldn’t speak the language(s) and the culture would be totally different. There were a few times in the first days when I really regretted my decision. I thought about how much easier it would be to be home, and how complicated I had made my life. It was pretty bad, and on top of everything I had no way to talk to anyone back home, and I felt very isolated and lonely. Dalene, while far from home, is at least in the same time zone as her family and friends. I didn’t have quite the same luck. I managed to talk to Kayla and Sarah, my two best friends from UConn, as well as Hawk, my college coach, and they assured me that it was normal to feel like that. Once I got a SIM card for my phone, I was able to talk to my parents and tell them I was okay and safe, and things got much easier. As sad as it is, having a phone made my Italian experience 100% better. So now the tough parts aren’t so bad, and I’m able to enjoy myself while talking to the people I know and love! Plus, the ability to pull up a map if I get lost is very reassuring.

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Dalene and I going on an adventure

I arrived in Bolzano at about 3pm. I was able to take a quick nap before practice at 8pm that night, where my jetlag finally kicked in. We were practicing in an older rink, with no walls, which I’ve never experienced. I’ve also never felt so out of shape or clumsy in my life! Luckily things have gotten much better, but I’m pretty sure the coaches were concerned after that first practice. I didn’t have much time to worry about it, because the next day I was on a bus at 9am to Vienna, Austria, to play in my first professional hockey game! Unfortunately, we lost 9-1, but I wasn’t much help that game and I know my team is looking forward to a rematch later in the season.

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The Snodgrass jersey has yet to arrive…

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were a blur of trying to get my money exchanged, attempting to grocery shop and get other necessities. I went out with a couple girls from the team on Monday, and went to my first Italian party! It was held in a club that looked like it could have been a part of a castle, and the familiar American club songs made me laugh a little bit. It felt like I was out with my UConn teammates again, except for the definite difference in fashion and language at the club.

I’ve learned how to get to the city center from my apartment, which is in a sort of suburb of Bolzano, and wandered around the city. I stopped for gelato…multiple times (they serve it WITH nutella here. I’m so screwed). The University library in Bolzano has free wifi, so I’ve been masquerading as a student in order to get some work done. At the same time as my giant move, I’ve been attempting to complete secondary applications for dental schools, which has been a crazy balancing act. Soon, I’ll start a biochemistry course online, which will help me fill my days up.

IMG_3353Yeah… I can work with this

On Thursday, we had a day off, and my roommates and I spent the morning hiking to a castle. The hike was a bit more difficult and longer than we anticipated, and when we got there we realized we could have gotten there by bus.. needless to say we took wheels back home and took a good long nap when we returned. The next days flew, and the next thing I knew, it was gameday! Saturday we played at home, so no long bus trip (whew!). We played Salzburg, which was especially fun because I know several girls on the team. This game went far better than the last, but I was unable to put the puck in the net. I don’t know how many chances I had, but I was extremely frustrated- we ended up losing 4-2 with an empty net goal at the end of the game to seal the loss. Our coach, while not thrilled, told us that it was a better game and told us what we needed to work on. He told us to look ahead to the next few games, and not focus on the loss. While still not happy, I was eager to do just that, and didn’t focus on the loss for too long.

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Bolzano at night

A few members from the team went out on Saturday night, and we spent some time in the city center and in a couple bars. I love the city, and the nightlife here is awesome! I really wish I could speak Italian, because even ordering a drink is difficult, but the city is so beautiful after awhile I just tell my teammates to order for me while I people watch.

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A drink called a Hugo

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Night on the town

Speaking of beauty/people watching- I have fallen in love with the city of Bolzano. Not only is the city itself magnificent, with beautiful architecture, shops and cafes, but the energy here is awesome. People are constantly window shopping, walking their dogs, or sitting in curbside cafes drinking wine and coffee. I love it, and I’m getting to know my way around which is nice.

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IMG_3390A few views of Bolzano

On the sunday after our second game, Simone (a photographer who works with the team) took a few of us to a ski zone outside of Bolzano. We took the lift to the top, and went hiking through the mountains. We stopped at a few landmarks, including a giant eagle statue and a bar in the hills. As a new member of the Eagles team, I especially loved the statue, and took a ton of photographs while hiking. I apologize for all of my facebook friends, who will likely see a ton of photo dumps in the coming months, but the scenery is just so beautiful I can’t help myself. After the mountains, we stopped at Lake Carezza, which is famous for being the “rainbow lake.” It was a cloudy day, and apparently not a good day to see the lake, but I was amazed by the colors anyways. I hope to see it someday soon in the sunlight and get the full effect.

A few pictures from the trip:
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12122868_10207840503313469_3211836553088348372_nAnd my favorite picture of them all…

The hike was a fantastic way to end the weekend. In the last couple days I’ve been working and looking ahead to my classes and dental school applications. Exciting stuff…. but at least the location is nice!

I’ve learned a lot in the last 8-9 days. It hasn’t all been easy, but I’m getting the hang of it! Everything is a little smaller in Italy (think fridges, showers, and other appliances) but my world has gotten a whole lot bigger at the same time. It’s strange, but I think I’m going to like it here.

Up next on my plate are a quick trip to Munich to see Sarah and Kayla (FINALLY!) and a team trip to Budapest for games. I have a lot to get organized, so forgive me the long posts- I’ll try to update more often so they’re not so obnoxiously long. Sending love, hugs, and kisses from Italy (cheek kisses- don’t get any weird ideas people). Hope all is well stateside, or whatever -side you’re currently on!

Talk to you all soon. Ciao!

IMG_3689Two eagles on a mountain 

…Aaaand now they’re not! (Off to Bolzano!)

Hello again, nonexistant readers! I have some exciting news to share, and I’m sure this time I’ll actually post this site on facebook or something similar so that I don’t miss telling anyone. So maybe not-so-nonexistant readers is more appropriate.

Anyways, I don’t know how many of you read my last post, but if you scroll down I’m sure you’ll find it. I wrote it at a time when I was dealing with my plans for the year falling through, and so it’s slightly depressing and please feel free to ignore it. It’s also irrelevant now.. I’m leaving it up simply to remind myself how sad I was that Italy didn’t always seem like it was going to work out, and that I should be grateful no matter what happens. Needless to say, shit did, in fact, buff out.

Long story short, I got an email last week that the Eagles may have found funding for the imports. Due to the time difference I got it at midnight, and promptly ran around my house celebrating on silent mode because my parents and sister were asleep. I honestly didn’t really sleep that night because I was so excited. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, in an almost freaky way. My mom had given me a “good karma” bracelet that day, because I was so down about my job search and Bolzano falling through. Who knew just how great of karma was headed my way! I had also just gotten a job and was to begin training in a few days, and was able to let them know my plans had changed without causing problems. The craziest thing was that my family had just put in a down payment on a car that afternoon, and were going to finish the purchase the next day. If I had gotten the email even one day later, my family was going to be paying for a car I wouldn’t have used. My mom says that all this the big man upstairs was looking out for me. I’m inclined to agree that the universe/someone/something intervened, because the coincidences are ridiculous.

So, I’m going to Italy! Manfred, the GM for the Eagles, found the funding through tireless work, and I owe everything to his efforts. He found a marketing firm that was willing to help support the team, and the imports got the green light to come to Bolzano on Saturday! I’ve been working since then on getting my visa processed, and I will likely be leaving Thursday. Gotta love that quick turnaround right? I’ll be in Italy for the next 6 months, and between the hockey and travels, I can’t imagine a better way to spend that time.

3743270048_31097ab1f1Bolzano is up north, near the Austrian border

Aside from excitement, I’ve been feeling stressed trying to get this visa paperwork moving. Unfortunately the closest Italian Consulate is in Chicago, and as I have no car at the moment the 14 hour round trip drive isn’t exactly going to work out. I have a meeting scheduled with the Minnesota office tomorrow, when my paperwork will be sent to Chicago, and then sent back for my flight. Lot’s of fingers crossed and flight arrangements have been necessary, and again, Manfred and my coach have been nothing but helpful.

bolzano-italy-1Movie set, or actual city?

With my quick departure, I’m sure there are people that I won’t get to say goodbye to. I will miss my family and friends, but I am excited to finally join Mac and Kayla and all the other American imports I know in Europe. It’s nice knowing people playing in so many places in Europe. It makes for a great excuse to visit all of the cities they’re playing in, and a better adventure with friends. Plus, seeing a friendly face on the opponent’s bench is always fun!

I’ve got a couple days of intense packing ahead of me, and some stress will be involved with that. Trying to fit everything I need in a few bags will be a challenge- I’m a notorious overpacker- but I’ll make it work somehow (baggage fees aren’t THAT bad, right?) I might even try to find some red hockey gear, which will be strange as every single one of my teams in the past has been some shade of blue. “First red-themed team” pales in comparison to “first European team,” but hey, it’s an excuse to buy hockey gear so I’ll take it.

I just have to thank the Eagles organization for working so hard to get the imports overseas. Having a team fight for me before I even get to in the country shows what a great experience I’m in for. I can’t wait to get to Bolzano and lace up the skates. The season will start October 3rd, which will likely be the day after I arrive in Italy. Luckily I’ve been skating a bit with MAP, and working as an instructor there has had me in skates at least a couple times a week. I’m excited to get back into the swing of actual hockey, and practicing with a team again. Obviously hockey was the major reason I pursued this opportunity, and Europe just happens to be the most amazing setting possible.

In fact, there are a lot of people I have to thank for helping me get to this point. My coaches at UConn, especially Hawk, who didn’t laugh at me when I said I wasn’t ready to hang up the skates. She worked her ass off to find three of her own players spots, and we all owe a ton to her. (Her website, womenshockeylife.com is an amazing resource and I highly recommend checking it out.) My parents, who had very different opinions about my year abroad, for pushing me to get on the plane and go. My dad was very excited and helped me with a lot of the logistics, and my mom, who wanted me to be home but made a very thorough packing list regardless, telling me that I need to take this opportunity because it will never come again. My coaching and management staff in Bolzano, who as I said worked so hard to get the imports to Italy… the list goes on and on. I’ll stop, because this is the part of the speech when the music starts and the teary actress is shoved off the stage, but know that I am appreciative of everyone in my life for making this such an awesome experience.

17italy-articleLargeGET ME ON THE PLANE

I doubt I’ll have a chance in the coming days to write another post, but I’ll do my best to update this when I’m in Europe! I’m sure you’re all thankful you don’t have to read another rambling post by me anyways, so enjoy your reprieve! I plan on updating as much as possible simply to keep my own memories jotted down 🙂

Here’s to six months of hockey, travel, friends, adventure, and great food!
( Eat, Pray, Love on skates? )


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So…. things are a little messed up

Hello, people who I’m probably not going to end up sharing this with. It’s currently 10:20pm on a Wednesday, which just makes this whole thing a little more sad than I realized at first.

Honestly, I started writing this because I’m sick of having to explain to people the status of my life right now. Which is no status. Like, literally, nothing is happening. Which is difficult to explain without wanting to crawl in a hole, so instead, I’ll write it down once and the next time someone asks I’ll just give them the link to this. Totally less awkward, right? Right.

So.. let’s get into the fun stuff, shall we? I was supposed to be in Italy this year. Actually, I was supposed to fly out yesterday. I was going to be playing professional hockey, in a city that looks like a movie set, and traveling around Europe with friends and teammates. Instead, I’m currently sitting at my parents’ kitchen counter blogging. As you can imagine, this is a slight disappointment. Unfortunately, the Bolzano Eagles lost some significant sponsors, and the team’s budget was sliced in half. While they might get the funding through other avenues, the season is currently on hold for the international imports.

This is difficult for me for several reasons, most of them selfish. I wasn’t ready to be done with hockey. That sounds so sad, and I can’t tell you how much I wish I could let it go (as my mom keeps insisting) but I simply can’t. I have this weird tendency to give situations and events more weight than they probably deserve. I’ve always thought of it as being nostalgic, even as the thing I’m nostalgic about is actually happening. So when my season ended this year, I was immediately and pretty permanently broken-hearted. It was okay when I had teammates and friends around, because I could still hang on to a part of that time in my life, but now, it’s mostly gone. I work at a hockey training camp, which gets me in skates, but I miss the competition and hockey world. That was the big reason number one I was so excited to get to Italy- to get that feeling back, even if just for one more year.

I was also excited because this was my “second chance” at a professional career. I had committed to a team earlier in the spring, and they decided the last minute to go with another player. I was pretty blindsided by the news, and had turned down other offers in order to commit to this team. When Italy came calling, it seemed like the stars had aligned! I studied all summer, took the DAT (dental school test) and was finally ready to turn my attention to packing for my trip. The next morning, I woke up to an Italian article with the headline “The Eagles May Disappear.” I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to translate an article from Italian to english, but it is not a perfect process. I learned that the team had lost most of its funding, and through communication with the GM learned that a lot of the year was up in the air. I’m actually still trying to figure out exactly will be happening with the team. Not knowing, and being in this perpetual pause is starting to take a toll. It’s no ones fault, which almost makes it worse. There’s no one to appeal to, no one to blame or ask for help from. It’s just a waiting game, and I don’t know how long I can wait.

I have friends in Europe right now, playing for teams all across the continent. My two best friends are on the same team in Munich, which leads to the third reason I was so excited for Italy. The ability to live for 8-9 months, three hours from your best friends, in the alps, in Italy, with great wine, playing hockey, is something that doesn’t just come around every day. I’m devastated that I might not get to do that. I’m trying hard not to be envious that they’re there, and plan on visiting at the very least, but that’s not easy. I hope that their time in Germany is incredible, but at the same time wish that I could be having my own experience. I’m struggling with that feeling.

Finally, I have an issue with failing. And I feel like a failure. When friends and family found out what I had planned for this year, they were supportive and excited. I had Facebook messages and posts and texts telling me congratulations and wishing me luck. I was reminded constantly what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this was. My own mother begrudgingly told me she thought I had to do this, even though she was so excited to have me home for a year.

And then it fell apart.

And realistically I know I didn’t fail, and it’s stupid of me to phrase it that way. I know I’m not the only one affected by this, and people have far more invested in this team than I do. But I don’t know the last time I had something this big fall through. I have been so blessed to attend the college of my dreams, and even though hockey didn’t always go the way I wanted it to (we like to pretend freshman and sophomore year never happened), I could be assured that I left all I had on the ice. Now, I can’t do anything more. It’s not in my hands- I can’t work harder to make this happen, I can’t lift more weight or skate faster. I can’t study more or read more about it.

People keep asking me when I leave, and I try to leave it as ambiguous as possible. When people hear I might not go at all, they tell me they’re happy I’ll be around. That sucks. It all just rings of pity, and false happiness, and failure.

So now, I try to figure out what I’m going to do. I have faith I’ll figure it out. Honestly, I think I’m avoiding learning if I’ll get to Italy this year because I don’t want to hear the bad news. I’ll find out sooner or later, and hopefully it will be good news. If not, I’ll just have to make my own good news. I’ll find a job to keep me sane, and interview for dental schools, and get my life back on track. It’ll be fine and fun and I’m sure I will love being home and near my friends. I’ll get the chance to see my brother and sister play hockey in person for the first time in years. I can visit UConn, and Boston, and bum around in general. Italy would be amazing, and I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out, but I’ll be alright no matter what.

So people, that’s my status. It’s not really a status, but just a giant pause button on my life. In the next two months I could be anywhere from Bolzano, Italy, to working as a waitress in Eagan. Who knows. Regardless of the outcome, as my brother likes to remind me, “Shit’ll buff out.”
-Joe Dirt

Featured imageBecause this man screams good life advice