BLOG: Katie Stengel checks back in from the land Down Under

Katie Stengel is currently on loan with the Newcastle Jets in the Westfield W-League in Australia. She'll be back for the 2018 season. While in Australia, she's blogging for bostonbreakerssoccer.com and will check in periodically. This is her second entry. Read her first here. Enjoy!

(Nov. 10, 2017) - Hey what’s up hello. It’s me again trying to shed some insight into life down unda. As I reflect on the past, it makes me appreciate the future and my opportunity to live here in the present. Please excuse the cliche-motivational-fridge-magnet line, but after some near-death experiences here, I really do see the world in a whole new light.

Katie Stengel is currently on loan with the Newcastle Jets in the Westfield W-League in Australia. She'll be back for the 2018 season. While in Australia, she's blogging for bostonbreakerssoccer.com and will check in periodically. This is her second entry. Read her first here. Enjoy!

(Nov. 10, 2017)Hey what’s up hello. It’s me again trying to shed some insight into life down unda. As I reflect on the past, it makes me appreciate the future and my opportunity to live here in the present. Please excuse the cliche-motivational-fridge-magnet line, but after some near-death experiences here, I really do see the world in a whole new light.

Last Monday I finally thought I’d mastered the whole left is right, right is wrong dilemma. For those unfamiliar, over here in Australia they like to drive on the left side of the road. So all those long hours in Drivers Ed and years of my father backseat driving with his imaginary emergency break, haven’t done a thing for me. I’m all twisted and backwards and it’s hard to actually pay attention when you drive. Humbling really. When you try to park and all the lines and angles are just so off that you must readjust your first attempt again (or maybe even a few times 😔). Not to mention, you must always think left, left, left! So when you try to turn right on red, think wrong, wrong, wrong!

I learned this the hard way when I looked left, looked right, looked left again, and the road was totally clear. No cars in sight. Most people would find that riveting! A chance to drive without judgment or road rage because the person in front of you decides the speed limit needs to be lowered a few KILOMETERS (weird, I know) per hour. However, this is a scary moment for me because I nearly forget which side of the road I need to be on. I hope those who attempt to make the American/Aussie driving swap can vouch for me on this. It sounds dumb, but man is it hard to get straight in your head. So needless to say, I am still here and kicking, but that “stay to the left” thing is hard to get right. (Attention dadjokes, see what I did there).

My next near-death experience is related. I’d like to claim that after three weeks I no longer try to get in the car on the driver's side. And I no longer feel myself hugging the left hand of the lane. Alas, I do both of those at least once a day. But I’m getting better. First step is admittance! And I admit I need to work on it. But the pass on the left concept reaches further. In fact, I have recently discovered that when you run on the sidewalk and someone approaches from the opposite direction, it is best to stay to the left. What a concept, huh! Well again, hard to get my mind to listen after being tricked to think it’s courteous to pass on the right. So, long story short, a cute male was running towards me looking as sorts of hot and sweaty from what appeared to be workout number three for him. While I was distracted by his big broad shoulders (I mean eyes) I forgot the cardinal rule of running. DON'T RUN INTO PEOPLE. Hence, as the distance diminished between us, I instinctually leaned to the right and tried to give him space. This leads to this awkward, last-second shuffle-lunge maneuver that epically failed. I crashed into him (looking back, not the worst thing a single girl can do). But he was less than pleased. He got up grumpily and looked at me like I was a clueless girl who didn’t know her rights from lefts. After apologizing (and stuttering more than I already do) we both parted ways and I pray I never run into him again. Literally. So note to self, stay. to. the. left!

Finally, my most recent traumatic event occurred after attempting to fully immerse myself in Australian culture. My amazing host family was kind enough to present me with a few quintessential Australian treats, one of which were Tim Tams. Let me tell you these puppies are a sweet mix of graham crackers, chocolate, and a small slice of heaven. Delicious. And I didn’t not devour them within the first week. But this is a story about a terrible experience so let’s get to the bad part. The other “gift” was a little jar of vegemite. If you ask any true Aussie, they swear by this stuff ... much like Americans love their peanut butter. I was intrigued to say the least and thought I’d dive right into the yeast-based treat. Yes, I said that correctly - yeast. They actually eat yeast. Like not used to make one of God’s greatest creation-bread, but just plain jane concentrated yeast extract. Doesn’t that just sound uber appetizing. Let me save you a hot minute by saying it did not live up to the hype. In what I could only describe as a smelly smell, the experience left me gasping for sometime to wash that taste out of my mouth. While many may enjoy it, let’s just agree to disagree and say vegemite is not for this mate. I may not have perished from this experiment, but a few of my poor innocent taste buds will surely not live to enjoy more acai bowls. Tragic.

So before I go, I thought I’d share a few more fun words that I haven’t quite mastered yet. Actually these two are phrases that have left me 50 shades of confused. The first is often asked after a hard lifting session or game. As I show up to our recovery session, our coach asked: “how’d you pull up?” Obviously I responded by saying: “Oh, I only got three pull-ups.” He looked at me baffled and tried again: “no, how’d you pull up.” Despite his extra emphasis on the last two words, I still answered the only way I reckon he could have expected. I simply clarified: “Oh no I just drove the car right into the parking spot. Pulled up right next to the entrance.” Once the team finally stopped laughing they proceeded to explain this question is a way to inquire how one recovered or how their body is after such an intense training load. Excuse me for being perplexed. I will now pull up to training cautiously and listen very carefully to the questions and their hidden meanings.

Apart from these crazy encounters, life down unda has been incredible. I’ve meet some of the nicest people, great teammates, and fierce competitors. I am honored to be a part of the Newcastle Jets as we continue to grow and compete this W-League season. Each training has been challenging and a learning experience as we get used to each other’s tendencies. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these girls on and off the field. And cheers to the entire team for channeling their inner American and dressing up for Halloween. Everyone was hesitant and unsure how to truly partake in this wonderful holiday, but the creative outfits that we came up with were stunning! It just showed how fun this team is and how easily these unique individuals can come together as one goofy bunch! For photo evidence please heckle our coach. I hear he has a pretty good shot of the ridiculous costumes at our team dinner.

Til next time,

Katie Stengel

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