Kayla Alexander arrives in Bourges, France, where she spends the 2016 off-season playing for Tango Bourges Basket. Read more below to see how she gets accustomed to life overseas, and spending quality time with her new teammates.
“My first two weeks in France were full of a lot of sightseeing, new experiences, and of course basketball, which I am extremely thankful for!”
-Stars’ Center, Kayla Alexander.
When I first landed in Paris, France on Saturday morning, I was picked up by a volunteer for the club named Allan. He was a very friendly, older French man who could speak pretty good English, but was more than willing to let me practice my French with him. As you could probably imagine, my French was quite rusty, but it gradually started coming back to me over the course of our hour long car ride to the hotel where I would be meeting up with my teammates. I had to admit, it was so nice putting into practice all my years of French education. My goal for when I return home at the end of the season is to be pretty near fluent, or at least way better than I am now.
When I arrived to the hotel, before I even made it through the doors, I bumped into a fellow Canadian basketball player, Lizzane Murphy! Once inside the hotel, I bumped into two more Canadian players! All the French teams were in Paris for the weekend for the League Open, but it felt like a Canadian reunion in France. As much as I wanted to explore the beautiful city of Paris, I was exhausted from my flight so I made my way to my hotel room and passed out! Later that evening I would meet all my teammates for the first time, all of whom were incredibly welcoming and friendly.
Late that afternoon, the team packed up into two mini vans and made our way to Bourges, France, my new home for the next eight months. Bourges is a small city, but it has a charm and homeliness to it that I love. My new apartment is only a five-minute walk from the gym and grocery store, and eight-minute walk from the movie theater, a 10-minute walk from the center of the city and a 20-minute walk from the train station; talk about convenience and prime location! One of the things I quickly learned about Bourges, is that pretty much everything closes on Sunday. Lucky for me, Amelie who works for the team and who has been living in Bourges a long time, knew of a few places that would be open where I could buy enough to make dinner and breakfast the next morning.
Basketball, oh how I’ve missed you!
My first time playing basketball since suffering my concussion was in France, and it felt so good to finally shoot a basketball, run the court, dribble and pass the ball…even if my lungs were on fire! It’s going to take some time before I get back in game shape and play at the level I want to play, but I have to learn to be patient and just appreciate the fact that I am able to be on the court again. I am thankful for my health and the ability to play this sport that I love and missed so much! Thank you Lord, and thank you to everyone who was praying and sending their well wishes my way!
We haven’t had any days off yet as a team, but whenever we have a morning off I always go for at least an hour walk around the city centre to see what restaurants, shops or cool buildings and sights are around. I love the architecture in France: the old buildings, old style doors, statutes, brick road, hidden roads, and tiny details in the structures have me in awe. All of this gives Bourges a charming feel. I think I am going to enjoy living in this new city I get to call home!
Tango Bourges is the first overseas team I have played for that has provided me with a car to get around. This is great except for one problem, the car is stick shift and I have spent my entire life driving automatic. Luckily I was blessed with some pretty awesome teammates who all graciously volunteered to teach me how to drive.
My first lesson was with my teammate Marine, in 97% French, which was fine because I could understand her. First she explained the functions of the clutch, brake, accelerator and how they all worked together to operate the car. Once I felt confident in understanding what I needed to do, it was time to put it into action – easier said than done. I found it incredibly hard trying to move the car. The amount of times I unintentionally shut the car down, jolted the car, or had it coughing definitely outnumbered the amount of smooth starts I had. Despite all this, Marine was extremely encouraging and patient with me as we practiced in the parking log of the gym. During my lesson I hadn’t realized it because I was so focused, but a group of elderly men smoking had formed. When I finally got the car going smoothly I was rewarded with a standing ovation, not embarrassing at all! Let’s just say that I will need way more practice before I’m caught driving the streets of Bourges.
A fun first two weeks ended with an even better weekend. Saturday we had a French League game that we won, followed by a team dinner out, and Sunday morning I was on the train to Paris! Yes, you read that correctly Paris, France. I have an old friend who I played basketball with when I was younger, Kayla, who is teaching English in Paris for the year. When I found out she was living in Paris, I couldn’t pass up the chance to explore this gorgeous city for the third time while getting the opportunity to catch up with an old friend. It was so great seeing her, she is one of those positive people, who you always enjoy catching up with and hearing about how life has been. She knew her way around Paris pretty well so we were able to see the Notre Dame, walk the Seine (river), see the outside of the Louvre (I’ll be making another visit to explore inside, for the second time), the Eiffel tower, the new location of the lock bridge, walk the parks, walk the hidden streets, and just take in the endless beauty that is Paris. Paris is one of those cities you can walk a thousand times and always see something new, artistic or charming, and this city will always have a piece of my heart!
This wraps up my first two weeks in Bourges. Thanks for stopping by and God bless!
Up Next: Kayla visits the Cathedral, enjoys local restaurants, and shares her experience from the Euroleague opener Read more >>
To see the rest of Kayla’s adventures from abroad, view the gallery here.