Outside Looking In: Experience football from an international perspective

Northwestern fans cheer at the Homecoming game. International students, however, don’t always understand why football is so popular.

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern fans cheer at the Homecoming game. International students, however, don’t always understand why football is so popular.

Sofia Rada, Blogger

Hello, hola and ni hao from one of Northwestern’s international students. My name is Sofia, and I’m a Mexican student whose family lives in Shanghai, China. Although this makes me think I’m incredibly international, my attempt at embodying all of us foreigners is by no means perfect. However, it will give you a glimpse of what the invasive breed of Wildcats experiences every day.

Football. We don’t understand it — not just the rules of the game itself, which I can quite confidently say most of us have finally wrapped our heads around, but the hundreds of rituals and widespread fascination that come with it. Out of all the great teams at NU, why is it that this one gets all the hype? We’re confused.

As if these troubles weren’t enough, Homecoming came and brought with it this little thing called “College GameDay.” None of us knew what it was, just that somehow it turned male college students into what can most accurately be described as tween girls at a One Direction concert. It was difficult, but we were able to find someone who agreed to take a break from all the jumping around in order to explain the madness. Appearing on TV? That sounded cool. Waking up at 2:30 a.m.? That put all of us off. Not you guys.

Fourteen hours later, when we finally garnered the energy to show up to the tailgate, we were amazed to find that, despite the lack of sleep, you guys were all still lively and wide-eyed. You eagerly told us about your 15 seconds of fame when the camera flew by you and may or may not have captured a fraction of your face. We nodded, smiled and pretended to understand the excitement.

When you taught us the new cheers aimed specifically at Ohio State and revealed the concept behind the jingling keys, we began to first dip our toes in the wave of elation. Though we came here from places as far as Kenya and Korea, we understood Purple Pride. If football was the go-to the outlet for it, we were going to give it a try.

Plus, you guys were quite impressive to watch. Even when it quite literally rained on your parade, you didn’t stop. You got soaked waiting in line for the best seats, all the while shouting to the masses that Ohio State was a “STATE SCHOOL, STATE SCHOOL.” Once we got into the stadium, there was no denying that the energy was contagious, as much as our knees hurt, and we ached to yell, “Why can’t everyone just sit down?” It even seemed that, miracle of all miracles, NU — we — might even have the win.

Then, it all turned around. We don’t understand why, in football, it’s OK to turn back the clock or why the score on the scoreboard can change. Most of us have way more experience with the real football soccer, in which those things would never happen. But this is ‘Murica, and this is football. The confusion came flooding back.

We’re not going to lie and say that football hasn’t grown on us, but we also can’t say that our enthusiasm quite matches yours. You probably won’t find us jingling our keys or roaring again any time soon, but not because we don’t support our team or because our school spirit is any less. We’ll just be showing our NU spirit in our own way. If you see some kids get strangely excited at a soccer game, think of us.

— Sofia Rada