I'm here. Finally.
Monday morning I flew from Columbus to Newark, then Newark to Montreal. Flying over Montreal brought me to tears. From the plane, I could see the beautiful city and the olympic arenas that held the 1976 olympics. I was born in 1989, but gymnastics has caused me to fall in love with the '76 olympics due to the first PERFECT 10.0 performance by Nadio Comaneci.
I didn't get my camera out in time to take a picture of 'The Big O' because I was afraid of my flight attendant. I braved up though after I realized that my view was a memory I'd have for life.
The city is 'magnifique'. Many told me that Montreal is a taste of Europe; I couldn't describe it better.
When the flight landed, I journeyed through customs, immigration, and baggage claim. After some light interrogation and half an hour of waiting, I received my work visa. As the security allowed me to pass through customs, I immediately saw a small, grey-haired man with a sign that said, "Cirque Du Soleil: Abigail Schmidt". I contained myself, but I almost burst into tears. Until this moment, I hadn't been face to face with anyone affiliated with Cirque. It was the pinnacle of my first day in Montreal, but it's only gotten better since I first saw my name next to the name of my new employer.
When I got in the car that took me to headquarters, I was really... really excited. Hence, this next picture.
Normally, I'd maybe try to act cool, but there's no shame in the joy I felt that day. This entire process has truly felt more like a gift than something that I've earned.
My driver took me to the Residence at Cirque, and I signed in at the front desk with the mother figure of the residence. As she looked at my three oversized suitcases, she said, "I should have given you a room on the first floor". Maybe I shouldn't have brought so many pairs of shoes? No, never mind... You can never have too many pairs of shoes.
Luckily, two Russians here on medical noticed our delay, and one of them kindly helped us carry my suitcases to my room. I reside in a hotel room style apartment; I have a bed, desk, two closets, the smallest kitchen you've ever seen, and a bathroom. It's perfectly sized and I have plenty of room.
After I unpacked and set up my montage of family portraits, I went to the grocery store with a friend. She is here on medical receiving physical therapy for two surgeries, and we did club gymnastics together as teenagers. She's one of three americans out of all of the artists here, and I just happen to know her!
I'm just glad that the food looks the same here because otherwise I would have never been able to read the French signs that tell which food is which. Most people speak English here, but they aren't exactly thrilled when we make them.
I settled in that first night after reading a book that my sister-in-law (kind of), Brooke, gave me. The introduction mentions Isaiah 55:12, and it has become my meditation while I'm here.
"You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace."
Tuesday was another relaxing day. I mostly just settled in and napped. A lot. Oh! I did receive my Cirque employee card!
Wednesday was my first day at work! We spent the majority of Wednesday and Thursday in meetings for information on the headquarters, the staff, medical clearance, immigration, taxes, etc. They are smart to do these meetings at they beginning because everyone is so excited to be there. I've never been so excited for a tax meeting. We also found out that we will be seeing Amaluna in Quebec City next weekend!
The first group congregation of all of the artists was definitely the most entertaining. There are Russians, a Kazakhstanian, a Canadian, two Americans, and one Argentinian in our group in general formation. Our first meeting involved French, English, Russian, and Spanish translators all talking at the exact same time. I literally felt like I was at the Tower of Babel. Since this moment in that room, I have spoken and learned more French, Russian, and Spanish than I would ever have expected!
My technical term within my specialty is called a "flyer", and my partner, Juan, is called a "catcher". We met on Wednesday morning, and the first thing he said to me was, "no problem. I catch you."
Well, that's all I really needed to hear.
After spending more time with him, I found out that he has un bebe! She is three *weeks* old. Please keep Juan, his girlfriend, and their baby girl, Alegra Palacios, in your prayers. Maybe pray that Juan catches me while you're at it.
Here is a video of what doing what he does best: catching!
His partner in the video, Charly, weighs around 55 kg. As if that's supposed to make me feel better.
Kilograms, kilometers, celsius, and military time... no one gave me a warning.
Montreal is the location of the international headquarters, and it is uh-maz-ing. There is a makeup studio featuring only MAC products (please and thank you!), two floors of costuming, multiple studios for practicing and creation, two cafes, free coffee**, physical therapy/workout center, a library, and pretty much anything else you could ever ask for. It's also decorated with Cirque memorabilia, and the environment is incredibly open and artistic. It is a total and complete honor to be here, and I am so grateful.
On Thursday night, I went to the grocery store with my new friend, LA. She was a member of the Canadian National team for gymnastics, and she attended Oregon State. Also, she's the only other girl who speaks English in our formation! That pretty much instantaneously made us friends.
LA and I walked to the grocery store. It's about a 15 minute walk, and we must have forgotten this when we were grocery shopping. We bought WAY too much to carry back. We tried, but of course, it started raining. Then we realized that we didn't write down the taxi's number!
Meet Laura-Ann. And our groceries.
Long story short, LA has a smart phone! We found a number, called a cab, and paid the $10 to get back to headquarters. Next time, buy less and bring an umbrella.
OH! Bags cost 5 cents here at the grocery store. Random fact.
Although I am learning new languages, I am also getting much worse at English. In order to talk to foreigners, I have to dumb my speech down. On Thursday night, LA and I spent almost half an hour talking about fruit to the Russians. When there is such a strong language barrier, all we end up talking about is what they call grapes and what we call watermelons. Fortunately, I will be your go-to-girl if you ever need help in a Russian supermarket :). Praise the Lord for my iTranslate app on my iPhone. Without it, the interaction between our group would be incredibly limited.
There are so many stories to tell and reasons to be thankful, so I will do my best to blog as often as I can! It's past midnight, so it's time for some rest. It is an incredible feeling to lay my head down on my pillow every night and feel so blessed to be here. It makes me grateful for my God-given talent, grateful for my selfless husband, and grateful for all of the people who invested in my gymnastics career.
I wish that I could have this moment for life.
Goodnight, all. Look after my husband for me.