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One Month in Lithuania: By Hollie Mershon October 28, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
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Labas! So I have official been here in Lithuania for one month!!! I arrived on September 26, which I could never forget because it was my birthday.  Crazy, who would have thought! Everything has been going well so far.  We had our first three official games in the Lithuanian League.   Our first game was against a team that played in dresses…We won, don’t worry.  The day I lose to a team who wears dresses will be the end of my career, haha kidding! The second game we won by about 30 points, and the third game we also won, but we started out the game down by 20 points.  Fortunately we turned things around in the second half and ended up winning by at least that much. We are still in the midst of building chemistry with one another and with each game I think it’s developing more and more so when Euroleague games start we should be ready.  

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The Euroleague is going to be very tough.  We actually played a “friendly” game against a team in Russia, and they recently signed Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker to their roster.  They were not on the team when we played them though, yet they were still amazing.  If you do not know who these women are, they are the top players in the WNBA.  So, that is the type of competition we will be going against.  No biggie… I am excited for those games to start though, competitive games are always more exciting.  Some of the teams we play are teams from Russia, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Turkey and Czech Republic. Our first Euroleague game is next week in Poland.  We play on Wednesday, November 6th.  We leave on Monday, and the team we are playing is only four hours away.  If there is a website to watch Euroleague games I will post it on my Facebook, if interested.

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I have not done a lot of exploring lately.  We usually have two practices a day, or a practice and lift.  We also started to play games and soon we will be playing 2-3 games a week.  Basketball keeps me busy, and when I have time to myself I watch Scandal, haha.  Great show, so I am trying to catch up.  

 

I went to one of the men’s games. They lost to a Russian team, but it was a good game and they are fun to watch. The stadium gets very loud, and here they are allowed to have those loud, very annoying horns.  They actually bring them to our games too, and I am not sure if I’m a fan of it. After the game Sophie and I went to the mall searching for some store to fix my iPad.  On the way I was reading the name of the store off the paper, or attempted to, and some guy turned around that was walking in front of me to see who was speaking.  By the look on his face I obviously was not pronouncing it right and I am pretty sure he thought I was illiterate.  I was tempted to tell him I was American but I couldn’t stop laughing.  I didn’t really care, I was laughing at myself before he could even turn around to look at me. 

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My mom is coming to visit on November 10th for about a week and a half! I am very excited for her visit and to take her around the city!  It will be nice to have her here.  But then she has to leave so she can get home to prepare for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). 😦

 

I still miss home, but I get a Christmas break and my flight home is December 22nd! The day the Eagles play ‘da’ Bears aka Corey Wootton!! Honestly though, I do not know what I’d do without technology because the constant contact back home helps me so much! Also if anyone is curious about anything, like questions about the country or the basketball I can add them in my next blog!

 

Sudie Pasiilgau! (bye, miss you all)

 

For more from Hollie, follow her on Twitter at @hollieRancher, or visit her blog at holliemershon.blogspot.com/

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Hollie Mershon: Settling In to New Surroundings October 15, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
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Labas,

So Sophie Alexsandravicius (my teammate from Davidson) and I moved into our apartment finally. Our apartment is nice, it is two floors and three bedrooms.  I took the room with the childish mouse wallpaper, naturally. We were left without Internet for about a week, which was terrible!! So everyday for a week we would go to the mall once or twice for a couple of hours just to connect with the world back home.  We were regulars at a mall and would sit at the Coffee Inn and skype and what not, it was pretty funny.  The mall we go to has a movie theater, bowling ally and ice skating rink, it is intense. Sophie and I are also sharing a car but it’s stick shift.  While my dad was here he taught me the basics of driving.  In my head I understand how to drive it but I struggle to remember to push the clutch in while changing the gear, so the car staled multiple times, whoops.  I will get it eventually..

The driving here is a tad more aggressive and I feel like they make up their own driving rules.  The other day my teammate and I were driving to practice and there was rush hour, but it was moving along.  We soon realized that we were driving in the middle of two lanes.  I guess here in Lithuania when there is traffic they create an extra lane on a 2 lane highway.  One thing is for sure, I am bringing that move back to American because I hate traffic.  So don’t be surprised if all the sudden you are driving in the middle of a highway because I will be setting the trend soon enough.  Also, there was a highway biker riding in between the cars…Oh, and since I have been here I have seen ONE stop sign.

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When I have free time to myself I try to practice my Lithuanian. I can count to twenty, name all the body parts, a few foods and some every day words (please, thank you, yes, no ect).  It’s funny because when my coach is speaking in Lithuanian to the team I stand there paying attention like I actually understand what is being said. Some of the girls call me out and tell me to stop nodding my head pretending like I know what she is saying.  I do try to see if I can make out any words, but it is a struggle.  Usually one of the girls on the team stands next to me and translates everything that is being said.  The coach translates in English unless she is yelling at us.  I guess that works in my favor…

Also on my free time I have been able to sightsee a bit.  I climbed a pretty steep mountain that overlooked the city of Vilnius.  At the top of the mountain was also “The Three Crosses,” which were built to honor monks martyred in the 14th century.  The original crosses that were built were removed by the Soviets, but then were rebuilt in 1989.  We also visited The Castle in Trakai, Lithuania which was very cool.  The Castle sits on an island on a lake. The town the Castle was in was small, but very cute, and looked like a vacation town.

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Practices have been going well.  We have had a couple two-a-days, but nothing I am not used to.  The mens arena is connected to ours and they usually practice right after us.  I am assuming they are a big deal, considering that when I left the gym all of their cars were parked outside with their name and number printed on the side of the car. I guess in case they forget which car is theirs…I don’t know.  Anyways, our first game is Friday, for the Lithuanian League and our Euro-league games start in November I believe.

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I am still enjoying myself, but I am missing home which is normal I guess.  I mean I missed home at times even when I was 30 minutes away, but now I don’t have the comfort of being able to just go home when I want. Oh well…

Alrighty, well I miss you all and until next time..

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Tootles!!!!

 

For more from Hollie, check in at http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/

One Week in Lithuania October 4, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
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Hello!

So I have made it a full week here in Lithuania, which is a good sign, I think.  The flight over here was not that bad.  I flew to Frankfort, Germany and then to Lithuania.  My second flight was quite interesting because I put my bag in an overhead compartment, sat down, and then some man came and took my bag out and threw it on the floor and started yelling at me in German.  The lady behind me realized I did not speak the language so she began to yell back at him so he took my bag and put it back.  I was completely confused but I just sat there and pretended it didn’t happen, haha.

When I arrived in Vilnius on my birthday, the guy who picked me up had bought me flowers and chocolate which was very sweet. He then took me to a nice birthday dinner.  The next day I woke up and met the entire team and had a short practice where they taught me all the plays.  I am playing point guard for this team so they had one day to teach me the plays before my first game the following day.  All the girls were very helpful and made sure I understood what was going on.  Everyone on the team speaks English, even the coach, so that is certainly helpful.  I arrived on Thursday, practiced on Friday, and Saturday we left for five days for a tournament in Druskininkai, Lithuania.  We played five “friendly” games against Russian teams. We did pretty well – not as well as we should have, but towards the end everyone was very tired. Throughout the trip the girls helped me learn Lithuanian words, and on the last day I was finally able to remember and pronounce every name on the team.  There is also one other American on the team, she is from New York and played at Davidson.  It helps a lot that there is another American!!!!

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Being new and playing point guard is a little overwhelming at times because you have the ball in your hands the majority of the time and you must make quick decisions considering the shot clock is now 24 seconds.  It’s overwhelming, because I am getting used to the style of play, and I still need to build chemistry with my teammates and understand the type of players they are and what they like to do on the court.  But I am catching on.  The basketball here is a lot faster and more physical, which I love.  They tell me that basketball in Lithuania is like a religion for most people.  Our guys’ basketball team is very good, too. They just played in European Championship and won silver, so that is pretty cool.

My team is currently in Russia.  They left the day after we got back from the tournament. I was unable to attend because my visa is not ready and you need a visa for Russia.  With them away I have been able to explore the city a bit.  Some of the buildings are different, but overall it doesn’t look that much different than home.  When I went to Italy with Drexel two years ago, it looked nothing like home.  Everything was different, but here in Vilnius there are similarities.  One thing that is confusing, especially for people visiting, are the street signs.  The street signs are on the side of the buildings, so you almost have to search for them.  Also, there are no stop signs, and people park with their bumper sticking out in the road.  There seems to be no rules about park jobs here.

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The food is different.  They love crepes, and I love them too!!! For every meal they have a salad, soup, and then the main dish. Some of the main dishes are unique, but very good.  It is still hard for me to explain.  Also, they have the best candy and sweets of all time!  They have this chocolate called “Milka” that is dangerous.  I will bring home a bunch at Christmas.  All of the food here is amazing.  I cannot complain one bit, and I love to eat so it kind of works out perfectly :).

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It is funny though, if you are an American living here, everyone knows.  They can sense that you are a foreigner and continue to stare at you.  The language barrier is not too bad, though, since most people here grew up learning the English language.  Overall everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful, and my experiences the last seven days have been good ones (knock on wood).  I am happy.  It is still a little weird that I am living in another country (I guess it has not hit me yet) but I am slowly adjusting.  I do miss home though every day, but the constant contact with everyone back home has certainly helped me along the way.

So far so good!

Sudie! (goodbye)

 

For more from Hollie as she continues her basketball career overseas, visit http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/