Now that I've been in Yaroslavl (Yaro) for 4 days and change, I thought it'd be a good idea to give an update on what has been happening so far. Here we go...
|Ron Hein and I share the same color office building|
Upon arriving in Yaro, I was delivered to my current residence of Hotel Sport which is about 5 minutes walking distance from our sport hall. The next morning I was able to see the place where I'd be "working" for the next 8 weeks or so. But before I could get inside I had to contend with the -5 degree temps outside. Thank goodness it isn't a Chicago -5 with winds of 30 mph because I'd really be in trouble. Although I didn't have a true practice with the team until Friday, I got a good idea of how things worked around the building, where the weight room was, and which locker was mine in the locker room. I have to say that compared to anything I've seen in Greece, Romania and Puerto Rico, these facilities were top tier.
Now that I was somewhat acquainted with the facilities I'd be working in, I was happy to start my first day of practice and to meet the team on Friday. After about 2 hours of morning practice I'd learned a couple of things about myself and the team. 1) I was a little rusty after taking some time between playing in Greece and playing in Russia. 2) Not a lot of Russians speak English. 3) Russians are like Americans because if the person they're talking to doesn't speak their language, they'll either get mad at them or speak super slow even though neither of those solutions help the foreigner. We had another practice that evening and I was hoping for a better showing. As of right now I'm still not at 100% playing ability, but I should get there during this week. Luckily during my time off Kate made me workout twice a day and do yoga with her...so at least I'm in good general shape and flexible.
Yesterday was my first match as a member of Yaroslavich Volleyball Club. We were playing against a team called Ural UFA. They were in the bottom 4 of the league and fighting for one of the last couple of playoff spots (the top 8 of 12 make the playoffs). This team also had another American on it, Clay Stanley, reigning MVP of the Olympics. For me it was nice to see a familiar face in an already very foreign country. The atmosphere of the match was pretty great though. Our arena isn't very large and 1,500 people is enough to max it out. Since it was a standing room only crowd, I'd say there were definitely a little more than that cheering us on. Also, UFA brought there own cheering section complete with green shirts, drums, and pieces of wood they'd attach to their hands to make clapping louder. Although we had the home court advantage it wasn't enough and our team lost 3-0. Definitely a tough first match for me, but we have two weeks until our next match to work on things.
Now since we have this break between matches our coach decided to give us Sunday and Monday morning off and that gave me some time to go exploring. Today, with Kate's urging, I decided to venture into the cold weather and walk around the city to see what I could find. I wasn't given a car by the team so I was hoping that there would be things to see and do nearby. Alas, I was sorely mistaken. I did get to enjoy the nice sunny day, although it was about 10-15 degrees outside. Thank you Ugg boots for keeping my feet warm! What I ended up deciding to do was walk down the main street that was near my hotel and see if I could find anything. I had asked the concierge at the hotel if they knew where I could go, but they didn't speak English. After about 45 minutes of walking I saw a familiar sign in the sky: McDonald's!
|I could taste the freedom|
After I enjoyed a Big Mac and coffee I decided it was time to turn around. Not because I couldn't find anything to do (there was a large cathedral another 5km down the road), but because I couldn't feel my face. The walk back wasn't nearly as long as the walk to McDonald's. I was able to amuse myself by playing the game of "find the sidewalk". It's where the sidewalk you're walking on suddenly disappears and you have to find or make another route without going into the street and risking certain death via passing motorists. Super fun!
On the way back I did spot something pretty cool, and if I was a skiier, which I'm not, I'd be really into it. Apparently cross country skiing is pretty big in Russia for obvious reasons and there was a very large oval shaped area where people of all ages were cross country skiing. Looked pretty fun.
After seeing this I was only a few minutes away from home and since I couldn't feel my face, it was probably time to call it a day. I ended up spending a good 3 hours walking around the city and I was able to get a good feel for what was around. Hopefully this will pay off when I get an apartment and have to start shopping for groceries and other items. All in all, I thought it was a pretty productive day in Yaro.
On to the next one...
kate + andy