Canada - four great months drawing to a close
This is how fast it can be: Carolina and I are sitting at the Chicago Airport at the moment and spend our last few hours in North America. Time went by very quickly and it's odd to understand that we'll already have our first competition in one month. The preparation for the season is thus almost completed, and in the next few weeks it'll be more about getting a certain stability of the programs.
Here in Canada we learned a lot for ourselves. Linguistically, culturally, and also as far as the sport is concerned. In Canada, you put your pants on one leg at a time, too, and you have to work for success. You don't get anything for free, and what you make of your chances is down to yourself. We hope to have made good use of our time. We don't come home with the feeling of having gilded the summer. We learned to appreciate much that we took for granted in Dortmund, but we also know where we can expect more and what we have to improve about ourselves. In general, we were very motivated and hope to start into the new season with the same motivation. Now it's nearly four weeks before the Nebelhorn-Trophy. Before that, we still have a number of other things on our list, though. First of all we have to try getting our costumes done by then. This means that we'll be traveling to Prague next week in order to have a first fitting there. In addition, the German Skating Union invited us to a seminar early in September to learn the Finnstep there. We've already learned the steps for this in Canada, and we hope that Rene Lohse can give some more useful tips.
We know from our own experience, but also from other people, that a longer stay abroad often makes the travelers return "changed." To what extent something like this applies to us, we don't know.
There have certainly been some experiences there which were funny or simply unexpected. For instance, we had to realize that we should not aspire to a modeling career. A Canadian lamp manufacturer was looking for models that were to perform a typical pairs lift in front of the camera. Since there are no pairs skaters in Vancouver, though, we were spontaneously sent to the audition by people from the rink. After practice we therefore went to the audition, still in practice clothes. We quickly found the office, and unfortunately also very many professional models. While most contenders could apply with their comp card, we only had our skates in our bags to offer. Nevertheless we were also given the chance of a photo. Strictly speaking it was even three photos. In each case one of the face and one in a lift position. The required lift position was one in which the man holds the lady with one hand while the lady supports herself on the hand and attaches a lamp to the ceiling with the other hand. Unfortunately we couldn't show something like this and went home after a few minutes of auditioning. For ourselves, this was absolutely new. The other models only had one or two photos, too, and many went back on their homeward journey as well. It was incredible how many contenders were there for the audition... we've never heard back from the casting itself again.
By now my grades have been confirmed, too. At the beginning of the semester, I was a bit afraid about whether my English suffices to study in Canada. After all I only passed the English test at the second attempt. During the first week of classes, I had some problem with the reading, but now I can only say that I am pleased with my grades. With two A- and one B I belong to the top 20% in the respective classes.
On our last weekend, we once again took some time for our friends and for saying goodbye to our host parents. We've really established some very close relationships and found new friends. We almost received more farewell gifts than at our departure from Dortmund. This made us happy and showed us how well we settled in. After the training on Monday, we went to "all you can eat sushi" with the skaters. Sushi is very cheap in Vancouver and possibly the most popular fast food. Our personal experiences with sushi are also very controversial. After the first try, after which both of us felt very queasy, it even started to slowly taste good the second time. From the third month, we then also went eating sushi voluntarily. During the last weeks (after we changed the restaurant), it actually even tasted really good. The same might have possibly held true for bubble tea, but we couldn't quite take to algae jellies in a yoghurt drink.
This morning we left for the airport at 3 a.m., and luckily Rose (Carolina's host mother) could bring us. One last glance at Vancouver at night, and then we were already standing in the terminal. At the check-in we had to repack because Carolina had about 20 pounds excess baggage. After some seesaw, nearly everything was put into our carry-on baggage bagpacks, and everyone took an additional bag. I eventually had to put on my winter coat as well, and we even stayed a little below the permitted 50 pounds per piece of baggage. In fairness, I have to say in Carolina's defense that she had 2 kg of peanut butter in her suitcase for me which didn't fit into my suitcase anymore. I love peanut butter since I've been to Canada.
Since we had a six-hour stop in Chicago, we decided to go into the city; after all both of us had never been to the USA before. Since lockers aren't allowed at airports anymore since September 11, 2001, this meant to walk through Chicago at approx. 27°C (80°F) with my winter coat, backpack, and my new practical little purse with Carolina's clothes inside. On the train we then got to know Alexandra, who was outside Costa Rica for the first time of her life. She accompanied us, and when we got off the train, we met a hotel concierge who was totally thrilled by our plan. Since she still had approx. 1 hour until her start of work, she immediately agreed to show us Chicago a little. In her opinion, we had to see as much as possible in our approx. 1.5 hour stop, and so we sprinted from landmark to landmark. The skyline was probably the most impressive, and I have never seen anything like this before. Chicago was something completely different from Vancouver, and our little trip really paid off.
Well, now we first have to get onto the plane again, and tomorrow morning we'll be landing in Amsterdam before we'll leave again next week... Carolina always says that it's mixed feelings at our goodbye...