3 Survival Tactics for 9 Months Abroad

Amidst the daily battle to bring order and equilibrium to my apartment, I came across my travel wallet collecting dust in a corner; I hadn’t opened it since our flight to Eilat at the beginning of the season. I took a moment to rummage around thinking I might find some forgotten shekels, maybe even some euros from when I was in Italy. There was no money. Instead the first thing that caught my eye were hundreds of dollars worth of baggage fee receipts. A painful reminder. But tucked away in the very back, preserved in unwrinkled pressed perfection, I found my original Air France boarding pass from San Francisco SFO to Florence FLR (via Paris). I thought it was long gone, lost in the airport, bus and taxi shuffle. Somehow, it survived. Mesmerised, I studied the ticket for the ancient artifact that it was.

On 27AUG13 at 14:50, this season’s journey began at a crowded GATE A9 in SFO. I’m in slight disbelief that 5 months (160 days to be exact) have already come and gone. Seriously, where’d the time go? We’re a nudge past the halfway point in the season, and I feel as though just yesterday I was eating pizza in the Piazza del Campo. Good times. Now, 8 to 10 months abroad is no Sunday stroll. Some weeks fly by. Some move slower than molasses in an igloo. With a few months left, here are three ways I fuel myself through a long season.

Don’t Count the Days

There’s no crossing off each day or “countdown till home” timer on my desktop. I can’t remember the last time I even opened any of my calendar applications. For better or for worse, my perception of time is predicated on game days and off days (macro), naps and practice (micro). What’s today? I don’t know, the day before a game. What time is it? An hour and a half before I need to leave for practice. Seriously though, obsessively dwelling over the remaining time only makes it pass slower. I also believe such counting makes it far too easy to cast the time in a negative light—more like a prison sentence rather than a rare travel opportunity. Let the momentum of the experience and adventure carry you. When you finally do slow down, stumble upon a calendar or old boarding pass, you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve already gone. Save the countdown for the last month (or max, two).

It’s All About Perspective

Surviving the season is much smoother when keeping a fine-tuned perspective. I repeat, the season abroad can be spent counting down a bid in prison or tallying up the memorable experiences you’ve collected. A little while ago, I started taking a daily morning walk of prayer and gratitude. Before the day gets crazy, it’s an chance for a positive start and a reminder to be thankful for each day’s opportunity. More than anything it’s a daily routine to recalibrate my perspective. At the end of the day, it a blessing and more to have a career playing a sport you love… AND travel. If and when life abroad gets tough, remember its a rare and coveted journey meant to be enjoyed.

Express Yourself

Let me be honest, when you’re living abroad more than half the year, everyday isn’t going to be a “lets ride camels in the dessert” or “peruse the Museum of Modern Art” adventure. We’re no tourists. We have jobs and a sense of everyday normalcy. And that normalcy sure sets in after practice when you’re sitting alone in an apartment. Here’s a secret, there’s only so many TV shows and movies one can watch. I think it really helps to have a regular outlet for expressing your thoughts, other passions and energy. This is some of the motivation behind building 2° of Freedom, writing, drawing, etc. Find outlets that don’t just pass time, but teach you and help you grow along way.

It’s been a great first four and half months here in Tel Aviv. Here’s to an even better rest of the season.

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