After an eventful couple days that involved a missed flight, an extra night in Dublin (which wasn’t all bad because I got to catch up with a former classmate who now works for Google there, as well as meet a whole bunch of people also working for Google-some from Sweden, Norway, France, Spain, etc.), and a flight into a different city, I finally arrived in Toulouse, France where I will be spending the next 10-12 months of my life.
Philippe aka “Seriously Titans” on facebook, has helped to coordinate with several people in his basketball club, St. Oren’s, here in Toulouse to create an opportunity for me to come for a season. Philippe has been very kind, offering to pick me up from the airport, drive me around, provide me with a place to stay for my first two months, and help me adjust to life in France. We first met back in May, when our Titans U-18 girls team was invited to a tournament in Biarritz. Philippe and I began talking about the possibility of me coming to France for a year or two. While many conversations you have with people may be BS, this was very real. It took a lot of patience on both our parts, but finally, here I am.
I will be coaching the U-14 boys team, running a basketball academy for the younger players in the club, assistant coach for Philippe with the club’s women’s team, and I will be playing for the St. Oren’s men’s team. In addition to this I will also be getting a full time job which has yet to be determined. I met the treasurer of the club yesterday, as well as my head coach at our team’s first training. According to the two of them, there are a lot of opportunities for me to work because there are so many people in the club who want to help out. In light of my last post, it definitely is comforting how welcoming everyone is here as I’m the first foreigner they have ever brought into the club. Philippe even joked with me by asking if I would be willing to give up basketball just to work because there were so many opportunities. I looked at him as if he was crazy. On a side note, yesterday when this happened I literally had no idea if he was serious or not. So today I asked him about it to make sure he was joking – of course he was. I’m still adjusting to some cross-cultural humor.
So last night was the first training I had with my team as a player. It was a solid two hour session, but it became clear to me very quickly how imperative it will be for me to learn French. Fortunately a few players on the team speak very good English so they helped me figure out what we had to do during the different drills. It was an intense session and I enjoyed playing with these guys. Hopefully it will be a good season. Either way it will definitely become better/easier the more French I learn.
At the end of training, as all teams do, everybody brought their hands in. I didn’t know what they were going to say. But it went like this….”Un, Deux, Trois, Oren’s!” So I understood the 1, 2, 3. But when everyone shouted Oren’s in their strong French accents, I quickly looked at them and in sheer excitement half exclaimed half asked “AWESOME?!?!” They all started dying laughing and corrected me telling me that it was “Oren’s” not “Awesome.” So things are off to a good start with the team. At least we are all laughing.