As my semester in Sydney, Australia quickly approached, I found myself filled with conflicting feelings of excitement and anxiety, as was expected. However, this anxiety was fairly unorthodox: it came from my realization that I would be in another time zone. In other words, I would be missing almost every National Football League (NFL) game. This is something that I could not do without. Anyone that knows me knows that I cannot go a day without discussing the ongoings of the sport, let alone a week during the fall without watching every game.
From Doubt to Tailgate
Now, I was on my way to the opposite end of the world where most football games would take place at three in the morning, and where not many people would share my obsession with the sport. In fact, I had assumed that I would not meet a single Australian that knew much about the NFL. However, I quickly discovered that my peers shared my affinity for football. Furthermore, we later received an email about an American football game that was being played by the University of Sydney.
This opportunity was too great to pass up. My friends and I assembled a classic tailgate and scurried to the game. Here, we showed up with a great deal of anticipation. Upon our arrival, we discovered that we were not the only football fanatics. We quickly befriended some local Sydney football fans who shared our love for the game. After discussing football, for what seemed to be an eternity, the Australian group revealed to us that they were in charge of a Facebook group named “Sydney NFL Supporters”. This group was specifically designed for discussing everything there is to discuss about football. This was the answer. I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders, and I felt as if I were home again. This connection motivated me to wake up to watch games in the middle of the night.
A Fan From Abroad Once Again
Throughout the weeks, I contributed to the discussion forum and felt as if I were a part of this city in which I was slowly making my new home. Now that I am back in the United States, I often feel the pains of nostalgia as I dearly miss my time in Australia. As a remedy, I simply sign into Facebook and join in on a lively debate about the latest NFL events. The “Sydney NFL Supporters” are an incredible aspect of my time abroad and will stick with me forever. I will never forget the simple comfort that it provided me, which soon emerged into pure excitement and inclusion.
Stewart Roddey is a student at Sewanee University and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at University of Sydney in Australia in 2015.