Not Just Chocolate and Waffles

With the conclusion of the WNBA season in August, Cathrine Kraayeveld had a decision to make. What should she do with her off-season? After spending last winter playing for the NWBL here in the States, the second-year Liberty player decided to try her hand at the overseas thing this off-season. So after getting some much needed rest and relaxation back home in Seattle, Kraayeveld headed across the pond to Belgium to sharpen her skills for the 2007 WNBA season. She has been kind enough to agree to check in with monthly and update us on her time in Belgium, where, as we know, there is more to the country than just chocolate and waffles.

November 13, 2006

Hello all,

I was asked to give all you Liberty fans out there a little taste of what my experience in Belgium has been like so far. Most of you may not know this, but I actually went to Turkey last year, but let's just say it didn't work out as well as I would have liked. I only stayed a week! All I can say is that it just wasn't the right place for me. So I came back to the U.S. and played in San Diego with Loree Moore for the NWBL. With all that said, I decided to give it another go overseas, this time in Belgium.

I had heard a lot of good things about Belgium and that got me excited. So as of right now, I have been in Belgium for four weeks. Honestly I was not sure how I would do at first, seeing as I had a hard time in Turkey. But this turned out to be a much different and better experience. The transition was much easier than I expected. I have another American teammate, Katryna, who was nice enough to go to the store and get me some food and put it in my place so I would have something to eat when I arrived. I was so thankful for that. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the store after flying for 14 hours!

I have settled in quite nicely over here. I live in a four-story apartment building, and each level is occupied by one of my teammates. So if I get bored I can just go hang out with one of them. I think the adjustment of being in another country has been made a lot easier by the people around me. My teammates are great, and are always willing to help out with anything I need. Also the people who are associated with the team have been really helpful as well. So far, between games and practice, I have not had too much time to do much yet. But I have had a chance to walk around Namur though, and just get a feel for the city. I haven't gone anywhere else in Belgium on our days off because they have all been on Sundays, and nothing is open on Sundays here!

It's pretty easy to get around where I live, except the fact that my car is supposed to be an automatic. They call it an automatic stick, or automatic clutch. Which means I don't have to shift, but the car still thinks it's a stick. There have been a couple of times I have almost stalled. Yeah thats right - I supposedly drive an automatic but it has come very close to stalling. It's very weird. But I heard that AB had trouble with her car in Spain as well, so maybe I shouldn't feel so bad! Also in Belgium, and maybe in other countries in Europe as well, on some of the roads you have to yield to the car on the right who is coming onto the road you are on. Doesn't sound like much I know, but even if I am on the main road and someone is coming from another street and wants to turn onto my road, I have to yield to them. I still sometimes forget about that rule and end up cutting people off as I am driving. Needless to say it's been quite an adventure getting used to driving overe here!

Lastly, I don't really know any French. And I have one teammate who insists that I really can speak French. She will start talking to me in French and look at me like I am supposed to understand everything she just said, and then expects a response. She doesn't speak any English either, so when I try to respond she doesn't understand what I'm saying either. And of couse when we had our first Euro league game on the road, the coach put the two of us in a room together. It was actually pretty comical - we were using hand motions and single words to try to communicate with each other! But we're working on it!

Well I hope this gave you a little idea of what I have been up to so far over here in Belgium. Take care and I will try to do my best to fill you in on all the details in the coming weeks.