This trip to Norway, being my first international travel experience, I had little idea of what to expect during the flight and stay in Oslofjord. Snacks, I decided, would take up a predominant amount of space in both my suitcase and backpack. Teammates encouraged me to pack light, as the flights we were taking would likely be full with little room for carry-ons. The night before we left, I’d lain awake, wondering what would become the defining feature of the trip. Would the jet-lag be unbearable? Would they serve only fish? I took consolation in the fact that I would not be in it alone.
As competitive as we trained to be, the Bouncing Bulldogs are linked by the unique experiences that we can only reminisce about with each other. Outside the team, I am greeted with a blank stare upon mentioning early-morning practices. It’s always a relief to sit down with my teammates and with a shared glance, understand what event we’re collectively worried for, or which drill in particular has left us completely void of energy.
Upon our arrival at the Oslo airport, we staggered through customs and towards the bus that would take us to the convention center, which I mistakingly identified as being “a real double-decker bus!” It’s a wonder to me now how we were able to load up our bags and make it to our seats before falling asleep. With each of us having managed as little as two hours of sleep on the plane, that was an impressive feat. Like the majority of my teammates, I drifted in and out of sleep, with the occasional jolt awake from a sharp turn or sudden stop. If memory serves, the bus driver’s name was Ivan, which he’d told us after we buckled our seats. I remember driving past an IKEA and thinking about how pretty the city’s skyline was with the silhouette of Norway’s many mountains spread behind it.
I’m not sure what I had expected the convention center to look like, but I had certainly not pictured the sleek glass buildings that featured a rooftop staircase, among other unique aspects. My roommates and I were all so excited to explore the room. Four bunks, which could be hidden by two sliding walls, were our first find, the next being the bedroom. The kitchen had held the most surprises: a working oven, stovetop, fridge, and freezer, along with utensils and dishes galore. I have never seen a group so exhilarated by common items, though I admit to discussing how nice it was to have a full kitchen in such a small space.
The two days of competition I was involved in flew by, despite the long hours. Speed events were my favorite to watch. Though they often lasted for hours at a time, I found it difficult to look away. The precision and care with which teams performed during both single rope and double dutch speed was astounding.
This year’s Grands Day was a sight to behold, with polished, clean routines, as well as perfectly executed speed events. The qualifying Bouncing Bulldogs did especially well in double dutch singles and pairs freestyle. I have never clapped as much as I did that day, watching them hit routine after routine. Though our team does well in many events, it’s clear that double dutch freestyle routines are some of our best.
Members of the Bouncing Bulldogs are bound together for life, whether we like it or not. We will always turn back towards one another and casually ask, “Hey, remember that time we went grocery shopping in Norway?” We’ve shared these incredible moments with each other, and that’s become the foundation on which long-lasting friendships have and will continue to be built. Norway has joined the collection of shared memories that bring us closer as a team and as individuals. Through the heat of impromptu summer practices, late night reports, and scraping scrambled eggs from the side of a pan at midnight, we’ll always have each other. I am proud to have been there, to have experienced everything with my teammates, and to have truly learned what it means to be a Bouncing Bulldog.