Friday, November 26, 2010


First I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!! I hope everyone had a fabulous day with friends and family wherever they found themselves yesterday! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is not only about being thankful for everything you have, but you get to spend the day with loved ones, relaxing and eating!!! I didn't really get a chance to have a normal Thanksgiving here which made me a bit sad yesterday and I really missed all my friends and family back home that mean so much to me.

But I took a step back and thought about how fortunate I am. Although I couldn't spend the holiday with the ones I love in the States, I am still thankful for so many things. The fact that I have people to miss so much, and people that miss me was thanks enough. I also realized how amazing an opportunity and experience I have been given through playing field hockey. I am in another country, meeting new people, learning about another culture, experiencing a new style of play on the hockey pitch, and growing as a person. There is no doubt I am thankful for all of this.

With only a few more weeks before I head home, I can't wait to see my family and get into the holiday spirit! But I am also starting to realize that I will miss a lot of things and people here in Holland too. So as much as I miss home and can't wait to get back to the States, I definitely am going to make the most of the time I have left over here!!

And... I do actually get a Thanksgiving dinner... it will just be on Saturday night! One of my teammates neighbors is American and invited a lot of us over for a Thanksgiving celebration. So I will get to enjoy a feast after all!! Bring on the Turkey!!

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

Wednesday Weather

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go, let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!"

It has finally turned to freezing temperatures here in Holland, which means a lot more staying in the house! Personally, I very much dislike cold weather and am beginning to miss California... A LOT!! But I only have a few more weeks before I head back to the not so harsh winters of North Carolina, then back out to mild California weather. Every day here they keep predicting snow. I figure, if it's going to be cold, it might as well snow! Then at least there is something to play with! But so far, the only thing we've gotten is hail! Yet another thing I know nothing about living in North Carolina and California my whole life.

Wednesdays training began with some running.... in the hail. We managed to get through it and I would say we were even warm by the end of it! The hail stopped as training began, but it didn't take long before a bit of rain was coming down. It must have only been one cloud though, because it didn't last long. At this point, I thought the weather was done spitting down on us for the night. Boy was I wrong!! Halfway through training, the hail picked up again. This time, much harder! It didn't matter- we had to keep going!! I could barely see and I thought I might end up with welts on my face, but once again, it stopped. It was so hard to decide whether I was hot or cold all practice!! Fortunately, it was clear for the last half hour of practice. As we finished up some corners and were walking off the field, I had to laugh, when the rain started to fall, once again. I thought I had seen some crazy weather and storms in North Carolina, but that was nothing compared to what I experienced Tuesday night!

Living in the Netherlands, I have come to expect that it may rain at any point, for any period, on any day. No matter the forecast and no matter what it looks like outside, you must always be prepared for rain! Now I know, as it gets colder, you must also be prepared for hail and snow as well!

We joked... "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get..." to "The weather in Holland is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Utrecht and Sinterklaas!!!

This past Saturday, Kim and I took the train over to Utrecht to do some exploring. As we got off the train we were welcomed by the biggest indoor mall in the Netherlands. We decided we should go see the famous church, canals, and have lunch before we went crazy shopping! As we walked towards the Domkerk, cameras in hand (just being a tourist!), we were stopped by a lady who informed us that there was a parade going on for Sinterklaas!

(For those of you that don't know... most of you probably... Sinterklaas is in other words the Dutch Santa Claus. Although the holiday is actually not celebrated until the evening of December 5th, Sinterklaas arrives a couple weeks earlier by boat from Spain. Sinterklaas is considered a patron saint of children and sailors. Originally, he was a bishop in modern-day Turkey. In medieval times, the feast was both an occasion to help the poor, by giving them food and putting money in their shoes. Today, the children put out a shoe at night and get little goodies in them from Sinterklaas the next morning. It is said that Sinterklaas was accompanied by a little black boy, whom they call Zwarte Piet. Today, there are many Zwarte Piet's, and everyone seems to love dressing like them! Typical treats that kids receive in their shoes are: Chocolate Letters, Papernotes [small, round gingerbread-like cookies], and small toys.)

So.... Saturday was the day that Sinterklaas arrived with all of the Zwarte Piet's! I knew about the holiday already, but the kids had been telling me all week that Sinterklaas was in Holland, and I was confused as to why until the parade! It was pretty cool to watch because the parade was actually by boat on the canals! As the Zwarte Piet's came by, they sang the traditional Sinterklaas song, and all the children sang along! It was fun to see all the children dressed in their Zwarte Piet outfits as well! Reminded me a bit of Christmas at home. Have to love the holiday spirit!!

After this, we finally wandered over to the church and it's famous tower, only to find the parade had also gathered there! The tower and church were once connected, but a storm took out a large part of the church, leaving a sizable courtyard in the middle. This is where the parade seemed to accumulate, including a band of Zwarte Piet musicians! We stayed for a bit and enjoyed the sights, but eventually decided that shopping was calling our name!

After a few hours and some damage done to the bank account (not that much damage..!!), we had to head back to Den Haag to meet up with some teammates for dinner and movie! We joined Steph, Lizzie, and Becky (who plays at Bloomendaal) to see Due Date. (Review: If you liked the Hangover, you will like this movie. Very funny!) Following many laughs, we went to a local cafe in the middle of town for a nice dinner. It was a very relaxing night in the wake of a busy day. At least I know that if I need to do any more shopping while I'm here... Utrecht here I come!


Boats with Zwarte Piet's

Me at the Parade, with the Canals and Church in the background

Me and a Zwarte Piet!

Canals again

Games games and more games

This past week we played games on Sunday, Wednesday and again on Sunday. After getting our first win against Kampong that first Sunday, I was excited for the rest of the week. Not only had we got that monkey off our shoulder, our games on Wednesday and Sunday were against Klein Zwitserland and Pinoke, both winnable games. KZ is right down the road in Den Haag and was sitting at the bottom of the Hoofdklasse with just 2 ties. We had known their pain until a few days prior. We weren’t ready to let up though. In fact, we were just getting started! As we took the pitch Wednesday night under the lights, we came out strong, dominating the game and taking a 1-0 lead . Despite our commanding play, we once again were unable to generate a lot of return in our attacking zone. Then, with 10 minutes left in the game, we got a yellow card- just like against Kampong. This time though, we did not hold our composure as well. We got another yellow card just minutes later. With only 9 players on the field, KZ took advantage of our 2-man deficit and earned a corner which gave them the game-tying goal. With just minutes left to play, we were not ready to give up that easy. We fought, despite a player down, to create opportunities, but the time and the 3 points we were chasing seemed to just slip away. It felt like another loss. Although we still got a point in the standings, we knew we let an important win get away from us.

Frustrated and disappointed, we still had to take away the many good things we did in the game. We have to keep playing like that- but for a whole 70 minutes, and we will get results. At times we need to be a bit smarter in attack, including earning more corners and quality shots. Also, we need to be a bit smarter about game situations and the time of game. In other words recognize when we are winning, when we are player down (or 2), and when we need to stay composed to manage the clock.

The last Sunday we played Pinoke, who traveled to our home turf from Amsterdam. Although I thought we were ready to keeping taking a step forward from the last two games, we came out flat in the first half. We gave up a goal off a corner to leave ourselves with a 1-0 deficit going into halftime. Even with a second half surge, we couldn’t find the back of the net. Once again, we left the field empty handed. It can be mentally difficult to see yourself at the bottom of the league, when you know you have the skill to be in the mix of things, competing with everyone. But, it is a team sport, where everyone plays a role, and the discipline and effort must be given for a full 70 minutes. Every team is good in the Hoofdklasse, and no one can be overlooked. That is the beauty of it. You must show up to play every Sunday.

This coming weekend we play at Den Bosch. They are currently vying for the top spot and they have won the majority of the championships in the past 10 years. But we have nothing to lose. We have no expectations. We are the underdogs, and we are going to continue to fight!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sports Weekend

Those that know me, know that I love sports. I love playing them (not just field hockey) and I love watching them. This weekend, that is about all I did!

The past 2 Saturdays I have gone to a local pub with the Kiwis on our team to watch the All Blacks (the New Zealand Rugby team) play. After a heartbreaking loss to Australia 2 weekends ago, they had a strong performance to pull out a win against England this past weekend. Now, I must admit that I never really watched rugby before and I didn't even know all the rules. (Surprising I know!) It is actually a very exciting sport with some amazing athletes. I have a feeling I will be watching a lot more in the near future! (And becoming a supporter of the All Blacks!)

Saturday night, I found myself again watching sports; this time, College Football. Although I can't flip through channels to find the game I want because only one game is televised here on ESPNAmerica, it is still really nice to be able to watch American football at all!

After a good nights rest, it was my turn to display my athletic abilities. My team, HGC, has been struggling a little bit the past couple weeks. We have found ourselves near the bottom of the Hoofdklasse when we feel we are skilled enough to be much higher. On Sunday we traveled to Utrecht to play Kampong, who is ranked in the middle, but we felt we had a good chance to beat them. We went out with a lot of energy and stuck to our game plan. We took a 1-0 lead off a corner mid-way through the first half and rode that lead into halftime. Kampong came out strong in the 2nd half, fighting back. But we got on the scoreboard again before they could finally put in a goal of their own. With 10 minutes left to play, one of our defenders was yellow carded on a diving tackle just outside the circle. It was a fight to the end of the game, but we held our composure and got the win. A very exciting 3 points for HGC!

After our game, a lot of us went to watch our men's team play down the road at SCHC. When I arrived, the second half was just starting and the men of HGC had a 2-0 lead. Similarly to our game though, SCHC found the back of the goal to make it 2-1, and HGC managed to get a yellow card with the minutes winding down. But the Gazelles held on to the lead and added another three points on the day. Always nice to have both teams in good spirits as well!

I was pretty tired once I got home for dinner, so once again I tuned in to ESPNAmerica and some NFL games!! I watched a bit of the Dolphins/Ravens game and then the Eagles/Colts game which was very exciting. Since I am 6 hours ahead of East Coast time, the afternoon NFL games start here at 7pm. It makes it a little difficult to stay up for all the games, and is a little late to watch Monday night football, but at least I get to watch some of it.... even if I never get to watch my team! (Go Panthers!! ...even though we are having a rough season).

The rest of the week should be busy but exciting. We have a game Wednesday against KZ (Klein Zwitserland, the team Rachel Dawson played for the past couple years) and another game on Sunday vs. Pinoke. will keep you posted on how we do!


Playing vs. Kampong:

HGC Dames 1 after the win at Kampong:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Peace Palace

So I have been here about 2 months now and I have seen quite a bit. I've been to a few cities, but find myself in neighboring Den Haag at least a few times a week. As the third biggest city in Holland though, there was still much to be discovered. And as much as I had already ventured through the city, I had yet to be a true tourist and go to the palaces, museums, etc. I decided to do so on Saturday.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining (which can be rare!) and I had no where I needed to be. I started the day by sleeping in and watching a little EHL on TV. It was the second weekend for first round games and they were being played in Spain. After this I met up with some of my teammates and some other hockey girls from New Zealand for a pancake lunch. I have never seen so many choices for pancakes! There were at least 100! Pancakes here though are not the same as we have in the US. Their pancakes are much thinner, more similar to crepes. They are delicious though! I got mine with fruit, whipped cream, and syrup! After our bellies were full, Kim and I headed out to explore Den Haag. As we rode away from the center of town, we just picked randomly where to turn.

We found our way to the harbor, checking out where all the boats were from and how they compared to ones we'd seen in the US. We then stopped by the Peace Palace, which was closed, but still a beautiful sight to see. Right outside the palace is the eternal peace flame. It was created in 1999, along with 6 others on 5 continents to be a symbol of peace, unity, freedom, and celebration. What I found really neat about the actual monument was that there is a circle path around the flame which contains a stone from every country. Besides the unique design and wide collection of stones, it showed all the countries commitment to the peace flames purpose.

To find out more on the World Peace Flame organization: visit

Although I still have more to see in Den Haag, including the MC Escher museum and Maduordam (mini Holland), this was definitely the coolest thing I have seen so far!

Peace Palace:

About the World Peace Flame:

Me and the World Peace Flame:


I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween! It is one of my favorite holiday's and I was a bit sad that I missed it since they don't celebrate it over here. I thought about celebrating it anyways and dressing up, but I think I would have gotten quite a few stares... okay a whole lot of stares... if I did that!

Coincidentally though, there is an American school right down the road from where I live. So there were a couple streets nearby that had houses that were decorated with pumpkins, cobwebs, ghouls and ghosts! This came as a surprise to me as I rode my bike past these houses. It put a big smile on my face though! This also meant there would be at least a few people celebrating the holiday!

Halloween was on Sunday this year, but the families here decided to celebrate/take the kids trick-or-treating on Saturday night instead. As I returned to Wassenaar from a day of adventuring around Den Haag, I saw all the kids already out in their costumes! I decided to stop by Kim's house since she lives on that street and the family she lives with was also celebrating and giving out candy. It almost seemed like home with all of the little trick-or-treaters in their cute little costumes! By far the best part of the night though was when the Prince and Princess came by with their two daughters to celebrate the festivities! That was unexpected, but very cool that the children can do everyday things and enjoy themselves without being bothered. And it was really awesome for me to see them right there at our doorstep!

Although I miss Halloween in the states, especially picking out costumes, it's not necessarily so bad that I missed it... because now I won't get sick off of candy!! I hope everyone had a great Halloween though... I've seen some great pictures and awesome costumes from back home! Looks like all my friends had fun this year!