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Monday, January 17, 2011

Sports In Translation (4): Advice for Soccer Players Going Abroad

It’s often said that 80% of our worries never come true. Unfortunately, it is easy for your imagination to run wild if you don’t have the exact answers to the questions that many people may ask you about your trip.

• Where will you be staying?
• What will you eat?
• What is the crime rate like there?
• What are you going to do in your spare time?
• Do you know anyone there?

Without a knowledge base, questions like these can have you visualizing a dark room, without running water, food or friends!

Creating a local support network is the foundation for crafting a daily routine that mirrors the best expectations that you want to come true. It is now time to harness the power of your imagination to make this experience, regardless of its length, uniquely your own. With that being said, take the time to ask yourself these basic questions.

• What are some of the things that I like to do in my spare time?
• What are some of the experiences that I would like to have?
• What are some of the foods that I like to eat?

You may find the three questions listed above a little unusual. However, a great way, to aid in your acclimation into a new environment and avoid long periods of feeling homesick, is to sprinkle your new experiences with a big dose of home.

If you take the time to look at my Facebook page, I am extremely open about my hobbies. Shopping for designer bargains, enjoying the beach, playing soccer and generally having a great time are high on my priority list. Therefore, these activities are experiences that I make a point to seek out when I train and play abroad.

After a few weeks of living in Rio, I was informed that a teammate and her husband owned a women’s boutique in Ipanema. It was a like a dream come true! Full of locally designed and produced apparel, I returned home with some absolutely fabulous finds.

While in Bermuda, our host made sure that I partied at all of the best clubs. I love great music, excellent company and lots of dancing. It was yet another activity that I love to do when I am at home, but it was new and exciting to attend parties and clubs in another country.

I provided you with those two examples so you can understand that your adventure can be what you make of it. Your international encounter can include familiar experiences, but within a new environment, they can take on a new perspective and energy that you may not be able to receive while in the United States.

Your fresh environment can provide you with entirely foreign encounters that can add color to your new routine. As you learn about your destination’s culture and from those in your network, you will be able to plan to participate in activities that may be of interest to you.

Regardless of your interests, there are more people just like you ready to take part. Your local contacts, social networking friends and athletic associates are excited and willing to share all of the one-of-a-kind aspects of their culture with you. All you have to is to make your interests known.

Prior to my departure, I make a few restaurant visits. There are just some dishes that I know I will not be able to find when I go abroad. However, there are some surefire ways to make your favorite snacks work double time for you. Upon closer inspection of my luggage bag, you are sure to find some cold candy bars, fruit snacks, trail mix, cereal bars and cracker packs. I get no greater feeling than watching foreign language television and eating a few handfuls of trail mix before bedtime!

The availability and export taxes levied on your favorite snacks are unpredictable. Bringing something as small as your favorite candy bar or non-perishable pack of snack crackers can go a long way in making you feel better during a moment of missing home.

I must confess that the first 14 days of my stay in Rio de Janeiro included a daily trip to the grocery store to purchase an American candy bar and soda. Although I rarely partake in these foods while at home, they seemed to be a welcome sight for sore eyes during my transition. Each time the cashier rang up my purchase, I couldn’t help but think about how much money I could’ve saved if I would’ve packed those candy bars in my bag. Now every time that I travel, I have a few on hand just in case!

Moreover, your snacks can serve as a diplomatic peace offering to your athletic associates and newfound friends. Finding room in your bag to add a few extra dry snacks to present as random gifts will bring smiles, gratitude and new conversation to any environment. It provides the recipient with an opportunity to experience a little taste of your culture.

My peanut butter crackers and fruit snacks are huge conversation pieces. After a long training session in Barranquilla, I passed a few packs to my trainer and the other footvolley players at the session. The unexpected treats helped to keep everyone’s hunger at bay during our long bus ride. Moreover, the “cookies” from America were a topic of conversation for many future training sessions!

Sports In Translation is now available as an electronic download for $3.99 on

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