February 4th, 2013 | Uncategorized
I thoroughly enjoy setting aside time each week to reflect on this year’s adventures. It makes me feel as though I’m sucking up any last bit of experience I failed to taste, or fully appreciate at the time. Yet, the frequency of weekly blog posts has unavoidably, caught up with me: for the first (and hopefully final) time this year, I don’t think I have anything new to write about.
I struggle with those words…because I am in Europe – the world’s treasure chest of cultural diversity, breathtaking scenery, and for an American, perpetual novelty. I arrived here with the assumption that Europe was some approximation of paradise, where stress and monotony were subbed out of the game for adventure and daily stimulation. In countless ways, this has held true. What an incredible year it has been. But, the other truth is that Europe has quickly become home, though a temporary one. And “home”, whether we want to admit it or not, carries some baggage: routines, grocery trips, schedules, stress, expectations, responsibilities, deadlines … the real stuff.
Nevertheless, something worth posting had to have happened to me over the last 7 days…something new, something fresh, something wonderful…right? With careful consideration, there were a few “highlights”.
Despite the frustrations of torn shoulder ligaments, and an increasingly saturated academic schedule, there are a few hours each week when I get to completely forget about any of my own trivial problems and focus on other people…younger people. While trying to avoid sounding cheesy, this has generally proven to be quite wonderful. Someone recently pointed out that your own worries become instantly microscopic when you focus on the welfare of others. Spending a Saturday morning drenched in rare Irish sunshine, helping munchkins enjoy the game that has opened up doors for me throughout my life is truly a gift.
That being said, Saturday’s session with the 6-year olds was a rough one. It was one of those days to which any coach or teacher can probably relate. Nothing I did worked to stop the downward spiral toward anarchy. Nevertheless, I left the field with a smile. At the very least, I hopefully drained them of energy for the rest of the day. You’re welcome parents.
I’m also proud to say that I exercised a bit of creativity this week, rather than relying on the classic soccer drills for 6-year olds. I came up with a game I have now trademarked: “Capture the Pizza”. The rules were simple: The whole group of players had to attempt to steal one pizza (ball) at a time from the storehouse (a box of cones I guarded). After stealing a “pizza ball”, they attempted to dribble it into the “oven” – another box across the field. However, as the “pizza police” guarding the storehouse, whenever I tagged a player who had possession of the ball after it was stolen, the pizza was returned. This encouraged the players to pass amongst themselves, to avoid being the player in possession of the ball when I was near them. Despite a day of very short attention spans, there were glimpses of Barcelona-like brilliance.
Last week, I shamelessly mooched a few car rides off my classmates (thanks to Richard, Emma, and Chris) to the hospital and grocery store. If I ever have the opportunity to pay back international students in the States, for the kindness and generosity that friends here have shown me, I intend to do so. Living in a foreign country without a car is difficult, and seeking international medical care is intimidating. Toss in torn shoulder ligaments, and suddenly struggling to pull on a t-shirt in the morning is the least of my worries. It’s funny though. Pathetic, but funny.
The other day, I walked into our kitchen and found our Spanish roommate sitting around the dinner table with three of her classmates. They were, in no particular order, from Japan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. How many other life experiences will place me in a random dining room, on a random Tuesday night, with five different countries enjoying Spanish meatballs?
All my love to those back home…