As we drove up the winding, snowy hills to our destination, a few things were immediately obvious. 1. We weren’t going shopping in any kind of downtown Helsinki coffee shop infested areas 2. It was borderline creepy how smoothly we were driving on so much snow and 3. Any minute now we would run into a huge candy cane sign that said “North Pole”. But whatever. We didn’t care. We just wanted to get to our beds ASAP. We had left Hjørring at 2pm and arrived to the training center at 2am. Twelve-hour travel days are the best.
The dorm-like sleeping arrangements were better than expected, and once we woke up to (not the sun, because we didn’t see the sun the entire weekend) let’s call them shiny clouds, it was evident that we were at a high quality training facility.
The amount of snow and ice that covered said facility were less desirable as you can imagine.
The joke of the weekend was that we went to Finland for a preseason tournament, instead of oh, I know don’t know, Spain or Turkey, to appreciate Hjørring more.
At one point I said to my coach “Ok ok, I get it, I get it, Hjørring is awesome, we can go home now!”
But nevertheless, we stayed. And we enjoyed it.
We jumped in an ice lake or whatever they call it. It’s a Finnish tradition, right? So, you jump in the water for a second and go in the sauna after. I pictured it going much smoother, but it was more chaos than my life prefers.
I slowly stepped into the water, (which is a feat in itself because I’m terrified of not being able to see what’s beneath me) dunked my head under, shot up out of the water, grabbed my towel and clothes and ran barefoot through the snow to the sauna. All the while screaming “it’s not worth it”.
But it was. I was just having a moment. And being dramatic.
So we did that. We played two games against the No. 1 and 2 teams in Finland, and Finnished the weekend with a win and a loss. (did you catch that brilliance?) As with all preseason matches, we learned things. And talked tactics. And learned things. And talked tactics. And complained about our legs being sore and the such.
But enough about soccer.
We had much more important things going on. Like making a Harlem Shake video… which I believe is roaming the internet like a scared cat that knows there’s a dog close by. It’s like one of those things you probably shouldn’t do because everyone else is doing it but you do it because everyone else is doing it, but after you do it, you’re like why did we do that, but you’re like well let’s just watch it five more times. Yeah, I don’t even know where it is.
We played some team bonding trivia game. And let me tell you, our teammates are so considerate to make the questions in Danish and English so the Americans could participate. There were questions like “What species of monkey is Rafiki from Lion King” and “Which country has one the most men’s World Cups”… I told everyone before we started playing that my team would win, and we did. Some may say that’s cocky, I say I’m just instilling confidence in my team. Bro.
Let’s see here. I’m almost done, don’t worry.
I saw one of my old teammates from AIK (Sweden). She calls me a douchebag every time I see her. We have an ironic friendship. It’s ironic because she’s the douchebag… Yeah I hope you're reading this.
Fast forward to the travel home.
I wrote this sitting in the van on our 5-hour (I wrote year instead of hour at first, because that’s what it felt like I guess) ride back to Hjørring. We stopped to eat at a rest stop off the highway in Denmark. If you think the Jersey Turnpike has slim pickings, you just shouldn’t think that.
We had the choice: McDonalds, Burger King or a place called Sunset Boulevard. Sunset (which is what the locals call it) is a far cry from what you imagine Sunset Boulevard to be like. It’s a combination of Subway, McDonalds and imported shitty French fries. So, Casey (the other American), Nino (a player on trial from Georgia- the country) and I ate at Burger King.
Guess today was our cheat day.
So, that’s all for now. Except the Titanic song just came on the radio. And all I can think about is how I know what that freezing cold water felt like now that I’m an experienced Fin-dipper (I am assuming that’s what they’re called, I don’t have the exact dictionary spelling, sorry).
I’ll write again soon. There are lots of things going on here in Denmark... like the timer on our laundry adding extra time during the cycle and my old housemates (aka my teammates that are under the age of 22) accidentally putting my VISA in the trash mail pile. You know, the usual.