One of the highlights of a week in Berlin is getting to play ultimate frisbee every Thursday! There are a lot of different organizations in Berlin––men’s, women’s, and mixed––so I joined a fall league that brings the frisbee community together. Earlier in the semester, I was practicing with a team called Parkscheibe and going to pick-up with a team called Yeehaw, so it has been nice to still see those people at the league. I am on the green team called “BÄMBooo” (pronounced BAM-booo) because bamboo is green, strong, and resilient. The name is a little weird for me because Bamboo in German is “Bambus,” so “BÄMBooo” is just a made-up sound that is supposed to be like the English word. I suppose the sentiment behind the name is good, though.
It’s been fun to integrate into the frisbee community in Berlin because I have found that, wherever I go, the frisbee community has the same type of characters that make up a team: silly nicknames, goofy attire, a hothead or two, a person who sends too many inverted throws, someone who lays-out for everything, and so on. But the biggest and most important characteristic of all: a lot of really NICE people. In all of the different frisbee contexts I have played in, both in the States and in Berlin, everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. There is a universal component of openness and acceptance to the frisbee community that makes playing the sport so enjoyable.
Although the joyful atmosphere in Berlin is similar to what I have experienced before, I have found that there are a lot of different strategies that are more common in Germany than in the United States. I am definitely challenged by all the new plays and drills, but I am excited to come back and share what I have learned with my teammates in the States! The level of play in fall league is also generally higher than I have played before, so I have been pushed to keep up with my teammates and opponents. I know I am becoming a better player, but I have definitely had discouraging moments.
An additional barrier I have run into is the language factor. There have been moments where a teammate has yelled an instruction to me from the sideline or on the starting line that I have not understood. Although a lot of the people in the league are native English speakers (I hear it all around me at the complex), most of the people on my team are either native German speakers or very competent in the German language. I am glad that my team communicates solely in German because I want to work on my listening and speaking skills in a practical context, but it has made me sometimes feel guilty for asking extra questions that are related to understanding and not the instruction itself. Language on the frisbee field is an interesting topic because, since the sport was created in the United States, a lot of frisbee-specific terms are English words. Sometimes I will ask a teammate what a certain term is in German and they will just chuckle and tell me it’s exactly the same as in English.
Although I am sad to miss the last game and final tournament this weekend, I am grateful to have gotten to play with and learn from so many talented and experienced frisbee players. It has been a unique way to get to know Berliners as well as have a regular frisbee workout in my schedule. I am definitely looking forward to rejoining my college team in the spring!
The featured image is an action shot of my team playing on a cold, foggy evening.
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<p>I am a rising junior at Connecticut College majoring in Architectural Studies. When I am not studying or constructing three-dimensional architecture models, I can be found playing ultimate frisbee or helping run the Womxn's Empowerment Initiative at Conn. After graduating from high school, I took a gap year to work as an au pair near Hamburg, Germany, so I could not be more excited to return to the country and share with you my adventures!</p>