8 Helpful Tips To Know Before Skating Abroad
Teammates' support is essential when a skater arrives in a foreign country. (Credits: Starlight by Ru-Pho - 2020)
Covid-19 has allowed us to take time for ourselves and refocus on our goals. For some, it certainly gave them the opportunity to dream bigger and the urge to dare the impossible. If your (new) dream is to go skating for a team that isn't in your country, here are some key points to help you and to succeed in your integration!
These tips were formulated by Agathe Merlier, a synchro skater who left France in 2013 to join Les Suprêmes Seniors in Montreal. She is also a correspondent for Jura Synchro in Canada.
This is the most important for me. Without it, the adaptation will be really difficult and you will not fully benefit from this new experience that is opening up to you.
Am I able to live far from my family, or on the contrary, do I prefer to stay close? Where would I be most likely to adapt? What kind of personality am I looking for in my coach(es)? What type of skating skills do I like? What are the programs that I would have liked to skate? Which team would I be proud to represent?
These are just a few examples among many others, but we must take all the time necessary to think about it.
2. Don't be afraid of the language
The language of skating is mainly looking, understanding and applying. However, we can use our blade guards or our hands to make ourselves understood. Communication is the first step towards creativity.
For example, I had a Japanese teammate, Sora, who spoke neither English nor French. She, therefore, had a computer when she arrived, which we used at each practice to translate the corrections or quite simply to get to know her!
3. Communicate with your coaches
To represent another country internationally, you must have requested a "release letter" from your home federation. This letter authorizes you to represent your new country. Without it, it's impossible to set foot on the ice in international competitions or your team will be disqualified.
In the worst case, if you don't get this letter, it'll normally be enough to wait a year without having represented a country in an international competition in order to be able to skate for your new team.
5. Take the time to prepare
Note that no question is stupid, and you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.
Take advantage of this great opportunity to create a great project for yourself: invest in your future, it's possible to reconcile studies/work and sport with organization and determination.
Last immigration point: Anticipate your steps to stay in the country before the end of your permit if you want to continue the adventure! This will prevent you from finding yourself in my situation: my team left without me for the Lumière Cup 2018 otherwise I couldn't come back to Canada. So I watched them in livestream and it's not the most fun experience to live!
These little moments allow me to better accept the situation and it's been 8 years since I left! Of course, there will be times that are more difficult than others, that's for sure, especially before the reunion and the excitement it generates. The wait will become unbearable but every time you see your family again, it is as if you had never left although life goes on on their side too.
However, the adventure you are going to live will be so rich in emotions that you will create a new family with your team. Thereafter, you will always feel divided between the two!
7. Accept the ups and downs
It was only during my first provincial competition with Les Suprêmes Seniors, coming off the ice after the free program that I said to myself: "I want to relive this feeling again, again and again!" It took me 6 months to understand why I was "inflicting" this experience which until now had already had its ups and downs.
We must especially not forget that if we are there, it's to live our dream, that we are able to skate for the success of the team we have chosen since in the end, they too have chosen us for this purpose.
The important thing is to do it for yourself and everything will be easier. However, there is no shame and it's not a failure to want to go home. The adventure simply didn't suit you. There is no remorse when you have tried!
8. Take care of each other
There are very simple things to do for this: exchange words, expressions, take an interest in his/her history, his/her background, him/her country, him/her culture, help him/her find accommodation, a new phone number, help him/her with public transport... Even if the person only comes from a neighbouring city, region or province, take the time to introduce them to their new city, their new country!
It's already a great adventure for him/her, so it's great to feel supported when you arrive in a totally unknown world.
by Agathe Merlier
Find the story of six synchro skaters who have just left or will soon go abroad to skate for a new team. Three episodes to follow their journey:
Part 1: The Wish To Skate Abroad
Part 2: How to convince
Part 3: How to prepare without stress