Bonjour mes amis!
It is my fifth day in Cannes, France, and yes, I have already seen naked people on the beach. No, I was not one of them. Naked people, however, have been one of the last things on my mind as I take on this new place.
My flight from the US went swimmingly. I flew on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and the food was awesome and free (I love food, so that is important). Once we were up in the air, I found an empty row of seats and promptly claimed it as my own. I was able to stretch out and sleep a good amount during the 10 hours. After a brief layover in Amsterdam, I boarded a second plane for a short flight to Nice. I like Nice. Nice is nice.
A secretary for my new volleyball club, RC Cannes, picked me up at the airport. He doesn’t speak a single word of English. I surprised myself, however, by being able to keep up with him fairly well and hold a conversation in French as we drove to Cannes. I studied French throughout my years in high school, so I know it’s somewhere tucked away in the back of my brain, and just needs some prompting. He chatted the whole way, pointing out places and things to do. I understood about half of what he said, and the rest of the time I just nodded and smiled.
Our first stop was at the club offices to sign some papers. All the people there were very friendly and helpful. Actually everyone I have met so far has been friendly and helpful. Either it’s a French thing, or everyone just loves me. Afterwards, I was shown to my own apartment.
My apartment is not quite set up the way I am used to. For example, instead of the toilet being in the bathroom with the shower and sink, it gets its own special room. Also, my kitchen has no oven. In it’s place, under the stove, there is a washing machine for clothing. It is small, simple, and quaint, but it will do great. I also have a balcony, and all I have to do is walk outside and cross a street to be at the beach. The Mediterranean water is very warm, and the weather is awesome. It reminds me of my Santa Barbara home.
The day after I arrived was my first day of training. I was still pretty jet-lagged, but I was eager to get going with my new team. In the morning we had weights, which they call muscu. Later in the afternoon we had practice for about two hours. I really like my coaches and teammates, and they have been incredibly supportive and helpful so far. The head coach, Yan Fang, only speaks French, so some of the girls have to constantly translate what he is saying for me. I am able to understand a good amount of what he says, but still have a ways to go.
I like Yan because he knows the game very well, and his coaching style reminds me of my college coach, John Dunning. He keeps on yelling “poignet!!” to emphasize snapping the wrist when I am hitting, which is also something John would remind me to do. It’s nice to have those little flashbacks to my Stanford days, when everything was rainbows and butterflies.
The whole team isn’t here yet, and we are trying to progress in intensity, so we are starting with mostly defensive drills and light hitting. I love digging, partly because I am defensively deprived as a middle, and partly because it is all about attitude. I did really well in our first practice, digging up all them volleyballs until my face was beet red. Teammates and trainers started looking at me strangely and asking me if I was okay, which I thought was random. Until I finished practice and looked at myself in the mirror.
The rest of the week has gone similarly in terms of weights, practice, defensive drills, and my alarmingly red face. I’ve had some nice meals with teammates, gone into the city to meander about, hung out at the beach, cooked meals in my apartment, and chatted and video called daily with family and friends. Juliann Faucette, another American volleyball player and friend of mine is arriving next week, which I am stoked about. This is my first time living alone, and it’s weird not having someone around to talk to, play games with, drag around on my adventures, and annoy with my endless energy. So Juliann is the lucky winner!