I’ve been in Ordu, Turkey a month now. The transition has become easier every year, especially since I’ve been coming back to the same country. However, there’s a transition to be made. I’ve identified a few stages I go through when I come overseas. Of course, I can only speak for myself, although I’m sure other professional players playing overseas experience a similar process.
Stage One: Philosophical Reflection
When I touch down and am escorted through the doors of the plane into a different country on the other side of the world, this is when my journey truly starts. Up until that point, it’s as if I still have one foot firmly planted in North America and the other one hesitantly stepping out over the Atlantic Ocean to find its footing in Europe/the Middle East. Now, as I see all these foreign faces milling about, I’m faced with the reality of being nowhere near home. I find this always places me in a reflective mood. I think about why I’m here and all that I’ve left at home. I think about why I choose to do this every year and how my life is about to change.
Stage Two: Nervous Excitement
I don’t know about everyone else, but whenever I start a new chapter in my life, I’m momentarily dazzled by the seemingly limitless potential. Sometimes when I think about that potential, I’m overwhelmed by what’s expected of me, both by myself and by others. So, there’s a mixture of anticipation for everything the year can bring, as well as a fear that it will not go as planned.
Stage Three: Boredom
After the surge of excitement of being in a new place, exploring the city, meeting new people, I’m hit with a low when I realize I’ll be here for another 8 months. Eight months of days that consist of practice, eating, and sleep. That’s when I realize I have none of my normal comforts from home to get me through those next months, which leads me to the next stage…
Stage Four: Homesickness
The perfect example of this took place this past weekend: Canadian Thanksgiving. I was over here craving turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. But most of all, I was missing my family. The older I get and the less I’m home, the more I realize how much time with them is important to me. My mom (Momsy), my dad (Paj, short for padre), and my brother, Kyler (Keylago…don’t ask) are the most important people in the world to me. And I’m fairly convinced I have one of the greatest extended families in the world. My cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are so supportive and loving. It’s not surprising I sometimes wonder why I’m over here, when they’re all over there.
Stage Five: Coping and Thriving
Finally, after missing home and thinking about the people there, I’m brought back to the present. Because if you’re not living in the present, you’re not really living, are you? And really, I’m unbelievably blessed! I’d be remiss to spend all my time thinking about what I have at home, when I have the privilege to travel around the world, experience different cultures, see history first hand, and make a career out of something I enjoy doing. So, I turn my eyes to the task at hand (balling out!) and look for ways to enjoy my time in this beautiful, charming, foreign country.