Every four years a college basketball team is allowed to travel outside the country for up to two weeks in the summer before school starts. I am not sure when this rule came into effect but I think it’s an absolutely great experience for college basketball players and students, and am thankful for my first trip overseas while playing at Harvard University.
Since college basketball is both a fall and spring sport, we do not get to partake in the "study abroad" programs most other college students get to take advantage of. For a whole semester, those students study and experience life in another country of their choice. Thankfully, my senior year we were fortunate enough to get to go to Italy for a 10 day trip. I honestly could not believe I was really about to leave the country. It was not too long ago that I thought my eyes were opened up to the "world" when I moved from New Jersey to North Carolina before I started high school.
I remember vividly the excitement I had when the time finally came for us to depart. I don’t know if i was more excited to play against the Italian teams or to try authentic Italian food! Over the course of the 10 days we visited four major cities; Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan.
The trip was nothing short of amazing.
Italy is a gorgeous country and is a great place for tourist to visit if they’re trying to get a good feel for the European culture. There is so much history. In each city we played one of the local teams and also took part in some memorable tours of the most famous sites the city had to offer. The first stop was Rome. We of course saw the legendary Colosseum, the iconic gladiator arena. We also visited the Vatican City State, where the Pope resided. In Florence and Venice we did less tours as groups and explored more on our own. These cities had some of the most famous art pieces in the world. The most notable thing we saw was definitely the work of the famous artist Michaelangelo. His sculpture "David" — even though it was replica of the original due to too much damage it had sustained — was stunning to see in person. I am not a huge art fan but anyone can find appreciation for the work these artist did. For someone who pours their heart and soul into what they love, it was evident that these artist did the exact same thing with their art work.
Next, we took a pit stop in between Florence and Milan to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where we had one of the most epic photoshoots ever. One of the photos is actually on my Instragram page (@brandyncurry). We took cues for the other tourists around us! The last stop for us was Milan. We saw took a boat ride on the beautiful Lake Como and got see George Clooney’s vacation home as well as several other unbelievable homes on the water. Finally, we saw the Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest church in the world. The cathedral itself was breathtaking and I see why it took six centuries to complete.
Along with soaking in the site seeing, the trip was a huge success on the court too.
We won all 4 games that we played. It was great to get my first experience of European basketball.
There was definitely a difference in how they played the game and also how the referees called the game. We really enjoyed the trip and it definitely bought us closer together as a team. By the end of the trip I did not even want to look at any kind of pasta, pizza or ice cream for a while. We had various kinds of each for lunch and dinner everyday. It was even better then I expected I will say that. More importantly though, this tripped really opened my eyes to how different life was outside of what I had known in the States.
The pace of life over here was much different. People never seemed in a hurry anywhere, unless they were tourist like we were. It’s hard to explain in writing but if you go visit these countries then you will understand immediately what I am saying. It was a nice change, especially coming from Boston, where everyone cannot get where they are going fast enough. I feel like people in the United States are steadily chasing the "American Dream" in a hurried pace that makes you appreciate the easy flow of overseas life.
Now that I have been to several other countries playing professional basketball, I have noticed that it wasn’t just in Italy where this difference in pace existed. This has encouraged me to slow down at certain moments in my life when I feel I am getting overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s good to sit down, maybe get a coffee or some tea, and just take a moment to really take in and appreciate all the beautiful things around us in life. I am forever grateful for this experience and it is one that I will never forget. I cannot say it enough, the opportunities the game of basketball can provide someone is limitless.
It has changed my life and I am looking forward to help use it to change the lives of many others.