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Studying abroad lacks fine American culture

Cassie Belek | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

After spending an entire semester abroad in Spain, I’ve discovered that I don’t miss as much about the States as I thought I would. I could do without the 27th season of “Real World” and the special six-hour episode of “Deal or No Deal.”Of course, I miss the staples of my life – chips and salsa, “Entertainment Weekly” and my darling DVR. But I’ve also learned now that I took too many things for granted during my 20 years residing in the United States of America. I eagerly await the following upon my return.

Mullet hunting as a legitimately competitive sportIt’s just too easy in Spain. By my own expert calculations, 7.4 out of every 10 Spanish men prefer business in the front and a fiesta in the back. I have seen more variations of the mullet than I ever thought possible, my favorite being the mullet-dreadlock power combo. But in the States, finding a mullet is like finding a diamond in the rough. It becomes a competitive sport when out with friends, and the mullet man is the perfect victim for the “your boyfriend” game.Spain has taken something precious away from me, and it’s up to the Land of the Free to give it back.American movies and television not dubbed in Spanish Okay, “Walker, Texas Ranger” dubbed in Spanish is one thing, but when I sit down for a pleasant evening of “Bad Boys II” with my host family, I don’t want to hear a high-pitched Spanish voice coming out of Will Smith. Ever hear of subtitles, Spain? Will Smith with any other voice does not sound as sweet, and I want my Fresh Prince to sound like he always does. Don’t make me listen to “Miami” to get my fix!

“My Super Sweet 16″Guilty pleasure alert! I admit that I didn’t realize how much I missed this delicious package of American materialism and excess until I turned on the T.V. in Florence and caught an episode. Yes, I was in Italy. No, I don’t regret spending an hour in my hostel watching a suspiciously busty blonde pick out some pink concoction in Paris that she could have bought in the dress-up section at Toys ‘R’ Us. And despite the fact that the network built on music has now turned to churning out trashily scripted “reality” shows, I still have to say, I want my MTV!

Notre Dame squirrelsI do in fact possess a fear/hatred for the Notre Dame squirrels, but that hatred in no way surpasses my hostile feelings toward cats. I’m allergic, and if I can’t hold one without sneezing then it’s not worthy of my love and affection. However, gangs of cats roam free in the peaceful streets of Toledo and follow me wherever I go. It’s like “Oliver & Company” without the fun song and dance numbers. Trust me, if there were musical acts, I would totally join in. But, I’d much rather almost trip over an overweight squirrel that has lost its fear of humans than be chased by mangy cats whose only goal is to make me suffer. Apologies to cat lovers out there, but not really.

And now that I’m returning to the United States in just a short while, I can return to these gems and some of my favorite summertime activities that can only happen in America – sitting through five hours of daytime television only to realize what I’ve done once it’s too late, getting angry at the local grocery store because the new issue of “US Weekly” isn’t stocked when it should be and absent-mindedly drinking six Diet Pepsis in one day and later wondering why my heart feels funny.God Bless the U.S.A.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.Contact Cassie Belek at cbelek@nd.edu