So if you follow me on twitter, you’ll probably notice that I tweet a lot of international news stories I find interesting, especially when it is related to education or language learning, stories about study abroad or life as an expat, or anything related to student loans and how to reduce them. But on Sunday nights, my tweets tend to change their tone a bit and switch to American football. Twitter is a great way to get information out to the world, but it also a great platform to connect to communities of like-minded individuals, and this can be very useful when you’re living physically apart from that community. I’m a life-long Denver Bronco fan. My twitter handle is fan4bronco. My parents have season tickets which they inherited from my grandparents.
This wasn’t going to change when I moved abroad. This is part of what I mean when I say that life abroad is about building moats: some will say that there is “expat DNA,” which allows someone to blend in and adapt to their new environment, and many recommend that Americans in particular shed their “Americaness.” But I personally think that when you move across oceans, you shouldn’t treat the ocean like a lake: traverse it and leave your life on the other side without looking back. Instead, you build a bridge between your self in your old home country and your self in your new home country. There are things about your life and your personality you will want to modify or even eliminate as you find your comfort zone abroad, but you shouldn’t cease to be yourself. For me, I’m an American politics junkie, obsessed with a select few American television shows, and yes, a huge American football fan. While there are very few people over here in Europe who like American football, much less understand it or willing to stay up until 6 a.m. to watch a game with me, I have been able to keep up with my team and still retain this part of my identity by connecting with Bronco fans through twitter during games. It is a poor substitute for being at Mile High with my friends and family, but it is a perfect illustration of what I mean by living your life like a moat. I may be abroad and this means Sunday Night Football turns into Monday Morning Football, and watching games by myself, and having to endure commercials in Dutch or British commentary on ESPN Europe, but I get a piece of my other home and what makes that life just as special as the one I’m living now in Spain. Still, though, I pray to the football Gods to give me a Broncos schedule filled with early games. (Really, NFL? Two Monday Morning Football games in a row? My Monday productivity is doomed).
While being an American football fan doesn’t exactly win me any friends in Europe, just being a sports fan has helped me integrate into European life. Everyone knows that European football is incredibly popular with practically every country EXCEPT the US. When people here learn that I enjoy watching sports, this inevitably leads to a discussion about the Champions League versus the Bundesliga, the extent of the corruption of the Italian league, or a heated discussion of the “hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup. I don’t claim to follow all of these discussions in detail, but my love for sports at least gets me into the conversation, and it has opened up invitations to watch European football games with friends, which has led to new friendships. And it has opened up my interest to American soccer. So even the least likely example of American culture to translate abroad has opened the door to intercultural dialogue.
I even convinced my boyfriend to attend an American football game in Berlin, who actually had a surprisingly loud and interested, if not small fan-base, complete with a half-time performance put on by a local American cultural club, which included a slightly awkward square dancing performance. While quaint, I’d actually take that over a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction any day.
While nothing will quite ever replace my love for the Broncos, I will certainly stay up-to-date with my adopted European football team, Werder Bremen (who are, unlike Denver, having a challenging season to say the least). This is just one example of the things I will take back with me if or when I cross the moat back to the US someday.
By the way, this Saturday (November 23, 2013) at 3 p.m. pacific time, I will be a guest on the radio show College Smart Radio, on AM 1220 KDOW, the Wall Street Business Network. I will be talking about how American students can save money on college and avoid or reduce their student loan debt by considering going abroad for college. I thank Beatrice Schultz, the host of the program, for inviting me on the show! So if you’re interested, tune in to 1220 AM this Saturday, or you can stream the show live from KDOW’s website. I will be posting the live audio on this blog as well.
That is all for now, as I struggle to recover from my all-night Broncos bender. Will I do it again next Monday morning? My guess is, yes, I will. Go Broncos!