September 2, 2003
It is my first time writing to you personally. I'm from Israel, and as you all already know, this is my second season at UCLA. This summer was different from any other summer that I experienced.
Two days after my last school final, I flew home to join the Israeli Junior National Team and to prepare for the semi-final of the European championship for Under-21s. Rather than going to parties and tanning at the beach, I had practices every day with games and camps. For me it felt so much like last season. However, I really liked the fact that I could show my coach and teammates what I have learned over here. My dad surprised me and joined us for the semi-final, and his presence there was awesome!
For me, going home means traveling almost to the other side of the world. Between practices and camps, I tried to find the time to spend with my lovely family and friends. My mom and I spent a lot of hours talking, which I missed so much while I was here. I also have four younger brothers and one sister, and I gave almost every free minute I had to them. I already miss their cute faces. My best friend (Tali) and I had so much fun together, which made the summer even greater.
Even though my free time was short, my family and friends gave me so much energy that I know I will be able to use over this year. My teammates, my friends and my family here make it so much easier for me to feel at home. I'm really thankful I get the chance to be a part of a wonderful group of people.
Right now I'm in summer school, and I'm taking classes in theater and air pollution. I'm renting an apartment with a friend of mine outside the campus, and for me it's my first time managing with money and paying rent. It is really funny because now I actually think before I turn on the lights, and you can find me reading and studying with a candle just to save money (just kidding).
So basically, my summer has been great, and I'm really excited to start up everything again. Like any other time, I'm ready for the challenge, so bring it baby!!!
I hope to see all of you at the games because we have something very special this year. As my teammates say, Holler!!!
Ortal Oren #00