Hello. I am postponing Arrival: Part 2 for the time being because something cool happened today and writing about my arrival as it was happening meant many details and a long, boring post. So, instead I shall share the story of this evening when I joined a Danish basketball club.
I think the reason my hosts and I were matched is because we all enjoy basketball. Helle, my host mother, is a great player and has been in the game since she was 6 years old. Like, hello, I don’t even think I could walk well enough when I was 6. She has traveled to the US to play and I think was on one of the best club teams in the country. My host sisters (who I have not yet introduced you to–coming in Part 2) Amalie, 18, and Julie, 20, also play.
Every Wednesday, the family goes to the local club to get together with friends to run drills and scrimmage. In Denmark, schools are very different. They are strictly geared towards academics–that means no sports teams, no school mascots, nothing. But, people are still very active and want to be well rounded, so they coordinate teams at local facilities. My host family plays for an hour once a week and invited me to come with them. I like basketball and want to be involved, so of course I joined them.
Upon arrival, I met some other women that we would play with. 3 women–2 Danish. 1 Spanish, and one of Julie’s friends were getting ready to hop on the court. The women varied in ages, but probably ranged from 30-40s. Okay, I thought, I can probably keep up. I really hadn’t played since high school, aside from a few pick-ups and shoot arounds at school. And I was very wrong, I got schooled.
It really wasn’t that bad, I held my own. I was a little nervous about being too aggressive on defense and not doing well on offense. I was certainly rusty but slowly got back into the swing of things and even learned a bit of Danish from listening to chatter. We started out with easy lay-ups, right and left. This then progressed to reverse lay-ups, floaters, and around the back. I mean… We did not practice around the back in America. So it was rough. But, Helle and Amalie helped me through it and I eventually started to get into the swing of things.
Later, we ran drills. My least favorite was a 3-man weave that turned into 2-on-1 because I could NEVER figure out if I was on offense or defense (shout out to Amalie for being a real one and whispering where I should be when we were on the court together). I did love a shooting drill we did that resembled around-the-world because I got to slow down and focus on my form.
The last thing we did was 4-on-4. I had a good time here and got a bit competitive. I think I overdid my defense a bit and definitely took a long time to figure out what I was supposed to be doing on offense. I took a few shots that were a little over-spontaneous and missed some good assists. But in my defense, the Danes can PLAY. I wasn’t sure what to expect because basketball is such an American game. I honestly thought I would have just a little bit of an advantage, but no. They were quick, communicated well, and worked hard. Watching them, it was easy to tell they had played together for some time. I felt welcomed into the community and it was be on a team again.
Even though I wasn’t great, they were kind, supportive, and encouraging. I hope to keep playing with them so that I can improve my basketball skills, Danish, and relationships in the future. Coming home, I felt a sense of ease and familiarity with the post-practice exhaustion that was also very comforting. Also, the diversity of the group made me proud of how I had pushed my boundaries and found a new experience. I think that’s why I’m really here and that’s what studying abroad should be about.
With full transparency, I’ve been having a really difficult time adjusting. It’s so hard not to compare living in a homestay on the outskirts of the city to living in a quaint apartment with other students downtown with excitement and nightlife and easy access to all of Copenhagen. My classes are also a lot more rigorous than I thought they would be. I have been having high highs and low lows in processing my experience so far and know it will be different, but playing basketball definitely bumped up my spirits and made me feel connected to my family and community… even if I did get schooled.