Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, a First Team All-WNBA selection in all three of her seasons in the league, is playing overseas in Russia this winter with Dynamo Moscow in the EuroLeague. She departed on January 1 to join her team and will be there with them until the completion of the season sometime in April. She will be checking in and sharing her experiences with WNBA.com twice a month until she returns.


January 9, 2005, Moscow, Russia: Privet and Greetings from Moscow!!!

I hope everyone who reads this is doing well and had a wonderful holiday season :) ! Mine was definitely a little bit differnet than normal because, for the first time in my professional career, I was preparing to go overseas to play during the WNBA offseason.

Before I get into that though, I want to fill you all in on what I have been doing since the WNBA season ended back in October. I'll be the first to admit that I had an unbelievable summer! One that will probably never be matched... well, not until 2008, hopefully (fingers crossed)! An Olympic Gold Medal and a WNBA championship all within a month of each other are two milestones that deserve to be celebrated. And that is exactly what I did.

After winning the title, I took some time off to chill.

My friends liked to call those next few months my "Farewell Tour" because I tried to visit as many people as possible before I left for Russia. I spent most of my time bouncing back and forth between Seattle and New York. I had a lot of work to do on my new townhouse in Sea-town and then, of course, I had to check in with the friends and family on the east coast. I also went up to my alma mater to practice a little bit and spend time with some old friends (note to reader: I know UConn has dropped a couple of games as of late, but don't count them out just yet. Remember in 1997 when Tennessee lost 10 regular season games only to win in April? And yes, I did just reference the Lady Vols in a positive light :) )!

So as I was saying, the Farewell Tour finally came to end in mid-December, which gave me a few weeks to both buy presents and pack for my trip. Now packing for a four-month trip is a big process. This is not a one-week vacation. There is a lot of thinking and planning that goes into the deciding just what to bring with me, and limiting that to just two bags. What will I need? What to wear? Will it be cold? What is the food like? Do I need to bring Cup 'O Noodles or will I find that I like the food there? Typically, so many unknowns and questions can lead to stress. But luckily for me, my Storm teammate Kamila Vodichkova is also on my team in Russia and had already been out there playing for a few months, so she was able to help guide me through and give me lots of useful information.

Before I knew it, though, I was a nine-hour plane ride to Moscow, Russia, where all my questions were about to be answered.

The name of the team that I am playing for is Dynamo, and is located in Moscow, the capitol of Russia. Our arena is about 20 minutes outside the downtown area. My team mostly consists of Russian players, many of whom played in the Olympics this summer. Other than Kamila, Sparks forward Mwadi Mabika and Liberty center Elena Baranova are the only other players on the roster who also play in the WNBA. However, I am learning that many of the Russian players have aspirations to play in the United States... I think. Only a few of my teammates speak English, and so it makes communicating a bit of a challenge. If I refer to Kamila a lot throughout this journal, it is because she has many purposes. Not only is she a friend and teammate, but she is also my translator! Thank goodness for her! She makes it easier to speak to my new teammates, my new coach and the managers.

New Year's Eve, my last night in New York with friends.

I have only been here a little over a week, and so far, life both on and off the court has been relatively easy to adapt to. My apartment is within walking distance from the gym and is nice and spacious. I've got satellite TV with six or seven English-speaking channels, including MTV, VH1 and some ESPN. So I'm all set in that department. I also have an internet connection which has been great! I am able to keep in touch with friends and family from home. For Christmas, a friend of mine got me the original, "old school" Nintendo to keep me company during my time here and so far its been doing just that! I still have yet to beat Mike Tyson, but I rule in Contra!

I have to admit that living in another country has definitely been an eye-opening experience so far, but it is really not that much different than home. There are mini-malls, McDonalds, KFC's, Sbarro's and, to my surprise, an IKEA! I know that as time goes on, I will have to learn to be more flexible and make even more adjustments, I'm really enjoying myself here so far!

There is so much to tell and I've definitely got more to share, so tune in over the next few weeks and I will share some photos and tell you all about my first games as a Dynamo Policeman, my visit to the Red Square and how I am almost finished watching my collection of DVDS of the first season of "The O.C.".

Later,
-Sue

Sue's List of Shout Outs:
1. My Family - My Mom, Dad and Sister.
2. Dryers - They don't use them here in Russia so I have to air dry all my clothes, which is definitely a new experience for me.
3. All my Storm teammates both in the U.S. and abroad... Miss you all!

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