After my first couple of months living abroad, and a great start to the season, I was spent. The club was pleased with our performance and since we had a two and a half week window before our next game, we were given that time to get home to our families and friends. The games resumed on December 21, so my return would be before Christmas; however I made the most of my visit and spent quality time with my amazing friends and loving family. I ate at my favorite restaurants, watched cable TV in English and made conversation with just about anybody and everybody I could! Although I've picked up on a few Turkish words I'm certainly not advanced enough to have the luxury of small talk. So, I treasured the meaningless chit chat with strangers about the weather and local sports teams.
I spent half of my trip in Michigan where my family lives and we had an early Christmas celebration. Originally I was disappointed about missing Christmas Day with my family, but they made this day twice as special. I was visited by many cousins, aunts and uncles; almost everyone made it on very short notice. I have an outstanding family that always does what they can to show that I've made them proud and I value that. The other half of my trip was spent in Wisconsin where I attended college. This was also an incredible time. My friends are great and showed me a really good time during my visit. I was drained both physically from basketball and emotionally from being away from so many loved ones. My friends did all the right things to get me back on track.
After the much needed trip back home it was back to work. I was excited to get back to basketball and rejoin my teammates. We were all ecstatic about winning the cup in Japan, but that success is now behind us and we have more competitions and goals set for our club and can't settle on past success. I felt a familiarity when I returned. It no longer felt like I was living in a strange place. I recognized the people the landmarks and my lovely apartment. I was happy to be "home." After a few training sessions with the team we were ready for the first Turkish league game of the year. We started off rather slow, probably a result of being away from each other for that period of time, but then we found our rhythm and cruised to a 72-55 win.
Our next game was on December 28 and this was a rivalry game that the entire team wanted to perform well for. The previous game was a home game so we had our supporters there and played on a familiar court. But, this rivalry match-up was our first away game and the other team's supporters made us aware of that the minute the game started. They chanted, sang, booed. It was awesome. We performed very well and ran away with a 90-72 victory.
We have a game in the Turkish league every weekend until late May/early June, and the Euro league will begin late February/early March. As the season progresses I will keep up the updates. Happy New Year to everyone!