First Impressions

From the wrong plane to L.A.'s impressive highways

Ana Behnke Llanos

Zur deutschen Version

We are here!
Several months of planning are behind us. Some of the last days have been quite stressful, but now we, Ana and Ayla, have actually arrived in the United States. We have a short stopover in San Francisco on our way to Los Angeles. Despite the seemingly endless flight, we do not think about fatigue or even jet lag. And we can’t, because first we have to take care of a new connecting flight. Our plane from Germany was delayed so we missed the one that we had actually booked.

Basketball: Main interest instead of just a side show
Never mind. This leaves us with more time to explore the airport. We immediately notice that in the US people place a different value on sports in general, and basketball in particular. The first three Americans we meet ask us straightaway if we played basketball. They are very friendly as well as enthusiastic (– we will never know if that is because of our size, our origin or our sport).
As we explore the souvenir shops at the airport, there are the "Golden State Warriors" as far as our eyes can see! (For non-basketball fans: The Warriors are the NBA runner-up from Oakland, nearby San Francisco.) Caps, T-shirts and everything the basketball heart can wish for. Their Star player Steph Curry is even printed on mugs, socks or sweaters.
All of this is extremely exciting but also a little confusing and somewhat intimidating. We already wonder just how well we will do in this basketball-crazy country.

Everything in XXL
Three hours late, we finally arrive in Los Angeles and for the first time meet Linda Fröhlich. She greets us as if we had known each other for years. It is a great feeling to be welcomed like this! Of course, we knew in advance that in the US many things are different. But knowing something and experiencing it yourself are two entirely different things. We take the highway from Los Angeles. And although this is only a road we are impressed. Linda explains that the speed limit does not matter here, since one is anyway stuck in traffic most of the time. And this is true despite the 6 lanes which often exist for one direction. On the road are some really huge cars, mega-pickups from Ford and Ram are all around. Small cars in the size of a VW Polo are not anywhere to be seen here. The huge trucks are intimidating, especially when they suddenly crop up next you to overtake from right or left. A driver needs good nerves over here.

Speaking of size differences: The supermarket that we visit truly deserves the term "oversized" – as do the "XXL-Sizes" that are sold there. Coke bottles come in 5-liter sizes and ice cream packs contain 20 liters instead of 2. In general, we quickly notice that the eating habits are different here and at least during the first few days, we have the impression that there is some truth to the frequently heard European preconceptions about American food preferences. But actually we don’t care.
What strikes us most positively is the openness of the people here in the United States: So far, everyone we met was very charming and helpful to us. These people see it as a matter of course to help us accustom ourselves to the new surroundings. Especially Linda’s mother with whom we stay at the moment does everything to make us feel at home: She is extremely forthright, funny and personable. We are delighted to be able to stay with her.

At the Grand Opening
As if our first days in California had not already been great enough, we also have the opportunity to attend the "Grand Opening" of the academy's own gym during the weekend. We help out a little supporting Linda and her team and have a lot of fun at the opening ceremony. The sports facilities are great and of course very modern. We particularly like the "shooting guns": During shooting practice they return the ball so that one does not have to run after it.
The "Grand Opening" is a huge event for the Academy and even for the city of Rancho Cucamonga. There's music, free food and drinks, a dunk contest and two NBA players as guest stars (One is Ryan Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, the name of the other one does not come to mind right now.). It is very cool and just right for us to get attuned for our exposure camp, which is what we have actually come to California for.

Don’t miss our next post when we will tell you of our camp experience.

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