First hockey season overseas!

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

We have officially made it to France and started to live life like the French, or to the best of our abilities anyways. Justin got here about a month before I did, which was nice (for me) because he had everything situated by the time I arrived. The day Justin got to France he met his coach and his GM, the first thing the GM said to the coach after he met Justin, “Holy, Justin is HUGE, I don’t know if he will fit in the bed” (I am saying that with my best French accent, just picture it okay). I can confirm, European beds are small and Justin is not.

The day I got to France I arrived at an airport that is about an hour from Angers in a city called Nantes. Justin wanted to do the nice thing and come and pick me up from the airport. In Europe, majority of the vehicles are all standard transmission. Justin has driven standard probably once in his life (at least to my recollection). He couldn’t find a car to borrow that was automatic so he just decided he would take the standard transmission vehicle. He was confident about being able to make it from Angers to Nantes. Not to mention the fact that he needed to follow a GPS and street signs that were in a different language. Long story short, I land in Nantes and text Justin to see if he was already at the airport and he said, “Be there soon, I had to call Brennan to drive. I couldn’t get out of the parking lot.” Brennan is Justin’s coach, he had to swallow his pride that day as the three of us (and all my bags) huddled into a small European style car as Brennan drove us home. I don’t think Justin will ever live that one down.

We have learned that unlike North America, there is limited availability as to when amenities are open. We are so used to 24/7 gyms, some restaurants and convenience stores that this has taken some time to adjust to. We cannot always go grab what we need or get done what we had hoped because of the hours of different establishments. For example, Justin and I wanted to go rent a bike to get around the city, we go to the store to get it and just our luck only open twice a week. There is a very small number of places open on Sunday’s so we always make sure we are prepared on Saturday. You all know it would be a tragedy if we didn’t have enough food in the house for this hungry guy come Sunday.

We are trying to learn the European way of grocery shopping, buying a few items for that day and then going back to the grocery store the following day. I have determined that, that just is not something we can get used to (especially with Justin’s large appetite). Every time we go to the grocery store we shop like we would at home, but everyone looks at us as if we are hosting a dinner party for 50 people because they are in line with their two or three items behind us. I just tell Justin that the walk from the grocery store back home with all our groceries will just be one more workout for the day as we are so used to just loading the groceries into the car back home.

We have become accustom to the European way of life when it comes to baguettes, wine and cheese though. If you know Justin, when we are at home he doesn’t like bread or cheese. Crazy, right? But the day I arrived we sit down with our charcuterie board and this guy can’t stop munching on the bread and cheese, you could say it’s good, really good! Justin can’t get enough. We go hiking and Justin brings his baguette for a snack to munch on along the way. You could say he’s a new man! We have also been drinking quite a bit of wine, but it is just too unbelievable not to. Also, the fact that you can drink while on the train, walking around, quite frankly anywhere just makes it extremely convenient to have a beverage in hand whenever you desire.

In France, when you meet someone instead of shaking hands you give a kiss on each cheek. Before Justin left, I was telling him some of the things I remembered from my family travels to Europe and I forgot to tell him that in Europe that is quite common for an introduction. Well one day he meets someone and she goes in for the French introduction and Justin certainly thought he was getting picked up for a second. We are still getting used to it and they just laugh at us if we forget and stick our hand out for the handshake.

We got me a gym membership at the gym that the team has the guys go to. It works out well because then Justin and I can go together as well. Let’s just say learning all the machines in French may not be as easy as I thought. I have been there a couple times with Google Translate on my phone trying to make sure I understand all the functions. There is also no air conditioning in the gym nor is there any fans on the machines so I sweat like nobody’s business in that place. But it makes me feel like I’m working REALLY HARD, so that’s good, right? I did a workout class with one of the girls this week and obviously, that’s in French too, I basically only got the hang of counting the reps but the rest of the explanations went right over my head. But the music is all in English so my tone-deaf self could sing along just fine!

It appears getting appointments for installations take quite a while because Justin got here at the beginning of August and it was not until mid-September that we could get an appointment for our Wi-Fi installation. Justin had a golf tournament on this specific day so I was home for the installers to come. When they got here, the two guys were speaking to me in French and I was having a hard time putting it all together, eventually I decided to get Google Translate out on my phone and get them to speak into it. I thought they needed help with the installation but no, that was not the case at all. They were asking me if I was single and if I was free for dinner this week. I told them no, I was not single and eventually they found Justin’s shoes in the apartment. They just kept saying, “WOW, ÉNORME” and trying to convey to me how big Justin’s feet are and all I could think to say back was “Oui, oui énorme”.

We have met some great people thus far. Justin’s team is made up of mostly French and Canadian players. Everyone has been extremely welcoming to us and helping us with any questions we have along the way. We have our first break coming up soon, we are currently planning a trip to Portugal and you can be sure I will be posting about our travel adventures then.