If you like making money without paying taxes or for anything but your gas and food then Europe is for you (At least this is my honest opinion). I’m a goalie wife, so circumstances may vary given that goalies and their families can be quite unique. We, yes I said “we” because we are a team and that’s what it takes in this game, made the decision to come to Europe during the NHL lockout 4 years ago. At first I struggled with the decision to move abroad, not because of the hockey but because I would be agreeing to take a leave from my full time job under Homeland Security in Los Angeles for my “boyfriend” at the time. We had been dating for 2 years prior as we ventured back and forth through the NHL and AHL (if your a hockey girlfriend or wife and have been in this situation with your honey then you know the struggle and mental mind games this plays on you). Obviously the ultimate decision fell on Justin, I mean hello he is the professional and had been making these decisions for years. I’m not going to lie, I panicked (possibly breaking down into tears because the overwhelming contemplation on moving out of the country was one I personally have never experienced before) as an offer abroad was already on the table and we were waiting a deal back home to pull through with an additional option. Problem is, he only had 30 min to a sign the European contract or else they were pulling the deal and with the lockout occurring the Euro jobs were being taken fast. Can you imagine the feeling?? Literally 30 min to make a life changing decision for the both of us. Ultimately he signed the Euro contract and it was set in stone… this couple was moving to Europe.
That first year in Europe on New Years Justin asked me to marry him. Fast-forward to four years later (yes four years of living in Europe, crazy right?!) where we are currently living in Sweden for our third year; I can’t help but look back and see how far we come. I have learned a lot along the way and I mean A LOT. Lets begin with packing, as well as fashion, before moving onto lifestyle.
I have learned that there is no need to bring 26 pairs of shoes (yup guilty and the husband still never lets that one go). Needless to say, that hockey bag was fucking heavy the first year abroad. Ladies, cobblestone is truly a bitch (excuse my French but I literally can not describe it any other way!). I have gone from 26 to 15, and I know that still sounds like a lot but lets not forget we are women and we are moving across the country for our men (leaving our family and friends is hard enough) so when he tries to reason with you just remind him of your closet filled with all your designer things back home and your leaving majority of it behind for him – he can either suck it up and bring it (because the team pays for your luggage fees depending on what you put in your contract) or he can buy you the things you already own back home for three times the price. I find everything here in Sweden is about 2 or 3 times the price comparing it to back home in Los Angeles.
Here is a very short idea of the list of things I bring to Sweden:
Shoes: I never buy any here because truth be told they all look the same and they have that same shoe lined up in rows of multiple sizes which I just find unappealing and a bad marketing strategy. I do not want to wear the same shoe as every girl in Sweden. (No offense). Two pairs of Nikes, because we need options, and mainly ankle boots, one pair of hot high heals (for the Christmas party and New Years celebration), two pairs of converse (although, I always find two pairs debatable considering they are rubber and they freeze in the snow but listen “you can take the girl out of California but you can’t take the Cali out of the girl”), two pairs of UGG’s (husband hates them but I LOVE them), and finally your UGG snow boots (which I find absolutely hideous but I was forced into getting a pair of snow boots so I looked up Jessica Simpson and turns out she had a pair of UGG snow boots that we splurged on but hey I NEEDED snow boots).
Clothes: Obviously! Little secret to packing: shoes on the bottom with bras, panties, scarves, socks and touques rolled up inside them (in between those you can put a perfume…or 6 I don’t judge like I said the more the merrier). Shirts, jackets, lingerie (there is only one Victoria Secret in Sweden and it is in the airport so nothing special – avoid paying any additional fees and bring your lingerie with you prior to moving), pants, gloves… most places where the guys play it snows. I like to bring more shirts then pants to Sweden because I hate shopping at H&M (it’s just not my cup of tea unless it’s for socks). H&M is extremely popular out here (similar to IKEA) and other stores are selling similar styles. The one thing I will say, I love their jeans!! I buy more just to bring home. Also athletic gear, I love me some Nike shoes and Lululemon but avoid paying 3 times the price or any shipping/boarder fees if you purchase online; just buy it and bring it before moving abroad. As crazy as it sounds, a couple bikinis are a must! Europe offers some of the most amazing spas, saunas, and beaches.
Be sure to roll your clothes when packing (helps you fit more).
As you can see, we purchase a bulk amount of items when we return home and just before we move back to Europe (which is why it feels like Christmas as soon as we arrive home). I mean our credit card is hot but it will honestly save you in the long run.
Tampons!: If you love your pearl applicators then bring numerous amounts of tampons. In Sweden, I find tampons do not come with applicators. (This year I did stumble across one box with cardboard applicators and hell yes I still bought that shit but lets be real “cardboard”).
Hair Color: I had a horrible experience with a hairstylist and will never let that happen again, ever. I hear many other horror stories from other wives and girlfriends as well. My God mother is a hair stylist and my personal hair stylist Kat, from back home, showed me the proper bleach and hair color to use in my hair as well as taught me how to highlight myself. I have been doing my own hair color for a little over 3 years now ☺ so I bring all my colors, developers, and bleach (in the hockey bag of course).
Drugs: We always bring our drugs from home. Whether these are Benadryl (because I tend to have allergic reactions on some meds), Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Sleeping pills (Ambien – I have a hard time adjusting to the time change)…. Birth Control – I bring my own because it is just easier. Sweden does not sell “over the counter” meds that we use back home to knock out the flu or pain. Sweden has a hard time giving antibiotics (for a good reason because they diagnose you to see if your body really needs them therefore they do not become over used and cause immunity) but I always bring a pack of antibiotics with me, just in case!
Alcohol: Buy your alcohol at duty free prior to boarding your long trip to Europe. As soon as you get into Sweden, the price of alcohol is 3 times the price you pay back home (I’m comparing to the states). Having a casual drink at a restaurant no longer exists as often as it would back home; now your back to pre-gaming at the house and hiding flasks of wine in your purse (THIS IS A TIP) while heading to the arena. In Sweden, most of the arenas do not let you bring alcohol beverages back to your seat (Unheard of for us North American girls). You have to finish them inside one of the many bars that exist inside the arenas. One glass of wine is the cost of a bottle of wine from the liquor store, hint why I’m all about that wine in a coffee cup scam.
A jailbroken Apple TV 2: I won’t say much but this will be your life saver when it comes to watching brand new movies in theatres, tv shows, and yes of course any live sporting event back home like the NHL and highlights (all for free). Do your research ladies because this tip… your welcome!
***Little side note: I know there is a weight limit on your two carry-on bags however I always find a way around this (which is to not show them you have carry-on luggage) but all my expensive items that I just do not trust the airlines losing goes into these two bags. For example, my jewelry, my wallets, my purses, and my sunglasses as well as electronics… it may be heavy to hold but that’s the price you pay to have the items with you at all times.
If you are contemplating on bringing something, bring it! Nine times out of ten you will be telling a family member to bring it to you when they come for a visit so save yourself the headache.
Also I should mention, I am a candle addict. This gets expensive in Sweden if you like the quality candles like Yankee Candle. I pay close to thirty/forty dollars for one here in Sweden. Which sounds crazy but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and pay the price for comfort. (It’s the little things that will help you deal with any home sickness).
The list goes on and I have included more detailed information posted my website: www.babe-report.comunder Travel. I hate to bore you with the same post (even though the listed information is extremely important on the things you should bring when specifically moving to Sweden).
If you have any questions whatsoever, you can find thousands of us wives and girlfriends that have been in your shoes before on a “secret Facebook group” where an insider can personally add you. In this group chat you can ask any questions or give any advice to those asking questions. This is a great group to take advantage of because some girls have personal experiences with a team or place that can provide helpful information.
Now, moving on – The Lifestyle
There is a lot of down time while living the European hockey life. Your closest girlfriends become the imports on the team. Cross your fingers you get some good ones (Not all personalities click). To be honest, most of the girls I have encountered have been great. The non-import wives and girlfriends tend to be from or near the area of the team the guys are playing on. The only downside to this is that they have lives of their own with family near by and jobs so you do not get to see them as often unless it’s a home game (which is understandable; many of us import ladies were in the same situation when the guys where playing back home).
Europe is what you make of it! Don’t be afraid to try new things. You can be the wife or girlfriend that makes the best of the situation or the worst. You have to be self-motivated. Explore, travel, work out, start a blog, do an online job (which apparently is the most difficult thing for expats to find because I always see posts about many looking for jobs). I’ve seen girls, like myself, take advantage of the situation and learn about the different cultures and traditions as well as continue their educations via online. I have also seen girls go through marathons of trashy TV shows, sit at home, shop, and do absolutely nothing. It truly is what you make of it.
My husband and I have traveled to 14 countries in three years. We have bucket-listed places and crossed them off. We gave ourselves a 5 year euro plan: play good hockey, reestablish yourself as a new player and find your rhythm in the game again, travel as much as we can before having kids, and eat our way through the cities. We are absolute foodies. Ninety percent of the time (when he is home from the road or practice) we spend in the kitchen trying out new recipes and while on vacation we eat it all.
The best possible advice I can give you is to go over the contract together (as husband and wife or as boyfriend and girlfriend). Every detail, even if you think it is small (like internet in your apartment) is important to include. If it is not written down, they do not have to provide things for you (this includes a visa if you are a girlfriend).
I hope you can benefit from some of this information. You will always experience a “live and learn” situation but it is important to live life to fullest. It may or may not always be a glamorous life but it is the memories you make that will last you a lifetime.