After my time was up studying abroad in Italy, I reflected on my experience and thought how wonderful it was that I got to live in Europe for several of months. Being able to have a home base in Italy allowed me to really explore the country and become part of the culture, more than I ever would have been able to if I were just visiting for a weeks vacation.
Little did I know then, my luck would soon return, this time getting to explore an entirely different part of Europe – Deutschland.
Chris signed with the Fischtown Pinguins in September 2017. He was late to the party because his team had already got there and started practicing in August, but Chris didn’t know that the DEL was calling his name until later that summer. His team, coaches and GM welcomed him with open arms. Luckily a majority of his teammates are from either the States or Canada so everyone relates to each other while living in this foreign country.
I was new to the whole European hockey thing too. “What in the world is the DEL?” I thought – ironically I said that about every league he’s played in, but nonetheless. Well, come to find out, the Deutsch Eishockey Liga is the premier league of Germany and one of the best leagues in all of Europe.
So, Chris left for Europe within a few days of him signing and me and Shadow stayed behind in Buffalo for a few weeks mostly because of all the paperwork I needed to get done for Shadow to be able to enter the country. Here we were, back to the six hour time difference! Then, the day finally came – October 9, 2017.
I was off to start my new adventure abroad but this time with my boys by my side!
Bremerhaven, Germany – my home for the next two years of my life. At first, I had a hard time adjusting to the changes. I didn’t know a lick of German and I had anxiety about going to the store to get my every day things. Speaking of which, most of the time I couldn’t easily find what I was looking for. It made me homesick for a little while, but once that bug got out of my system, I didn’t want to go home to Buffalo for the summer.
I ended up loving the German lifestyle and understanding that I needed to get all my grocery shopping done on Saturday because stores are closed on Sunday. Something I was annoyed at at first, just became secondhand. I loved the restaurants and trying to interpret the specials menu with Chris at our favorite restaurant Caspar David & Co. I loved going to his hockey games because the atmosphere was electric every night. Yes, I may have had to drink my way through them, but I fit right in with the Germans with a beer in my hand anyway. “Ein bier, bitte!” “Ein rotwein, bitte!” See, I’m a pro now.
Our first season in Germany was a success. We got to have day trips in cities near by. We made our apartment our home, even leaving all my things there for the summer felt so nice! Chris had a great season with Fischtown and I made some incredible girlfriends. I found myself connecting with the team girls on a different level because we all were expats living in the same city, needed to get the same things, going to the same stores and going through the same issues. Being a hockey girlfriend/fiance/wife is truly one of the best things that I get out of the sport. Now I have friends from all over the place – something I never could have said before. Luckily for me, a lot of the same girls will be there this coming season to continue building even stronger friendships.
I’m so excited to see what the future holds for us. Chris and I loved the country so much and plan on coming back as long as we can – or should I say for as long as he can play? We were able to go on European (and Middle Eastern) vacations on his weeks he would have off (thank you Winter Olympics 2018!) which is something we never would have gotten the chance to do together otherwise if he were still playing in the States. I will never understand the way the world works but I’m thankful I’ve been granted so many wishes in my life.
I already can’t wait to go back to Bremerhaven this August and hit up all the northern beaches. Shadow will be ecstatic about it too. I also am excited to have family come and visit us for the Christmas season so I can show them how amazing Germany is at Christmas time!