Students generally spend the morning of a Notre Dame football game planning a tailgate, checking to make sure they have their tickets and listening to the marching band play the Victory March on the way to Notre Dame Stadium. For most students, a typical game day rarely consists of arguing with a bartender in French about finding a local Internet connection so the game can be broadcast on a laptop.
So go the trials and tribulations of organizing a game watch while abroad.
Hundreds of Notre Dame sophomores and juniors are scattered across the globe in various study abroad programs, but the majority of students are still finding ways to stay connected to the school through football.
This is sometimes easier said than done.
Junior Shannon McNaught, who is studying abroad in Angers, France, said she and the other students in her program faced multiple difficulties in trying to find a location to cheer the Irish on against Michigan.
“We went to a pub where we planned to watch the game on the French international sports channel but they were showing Formula 1 highlights,” she said. “After some finagling with the bartender, we downloaded a VPN system onto his computer and hooked it up to the big screen to watch.”
Unfortunately for McNaught and her classmates, there were more difficulties to face during the game than quarterback Dayne Crist’s blurry vision.
“The resolution on the screen was extremely poor and at the end of the third quarter, the bartender got confused and quit the Internet,” she said. “After that, we just went to Plan B and watched the rest of the game on ESPN.com on our friend’s Blackberry.”
Junior Liz Ledden, who is studying abroad in Toledo, Spain, said she and her fellow Domers found a venue they thought would be more conducive to watching a Notre Dame football game.
“The entire Toledo program went to an Irish pub we found in Madrid,” she said. “It felt a little weird though, because we were in Spain but we had a little bit of Notre Dame there with us.”
Other students haven’t had as much luck finding a means of watching the game due to the political climate of the country they are studying in.
“Watching football games in China is really difficult,” said junior Jia Hua Juszczak, who is studying in Bejing. “The TV and internet censorship definitely limits the media outlets we can use.”
Juszczak wasn’t able to watch either of the first two football games due to censorship issues as well as other factors that come with living in a country thousands of miles from home.
“There are some alumni here in Bejing who have a sling box so they can watch the games directly from the U.S., but there is still the time difference,” he said. “Bejing is 12 hours ahead of Eastern time so most football games are played at 3 a.m. on Sundays. So either way, it’s not ideal.”
For those students who have been able to watch the games, they said they have had interesting experiences with locals who haven’t been able to totally understand the culture of Notre Dame football.
“The Spaniards who were in the bar with us thought we were pretty entertaining, to say the least,” Ledden said. “They were trying to watch their fútbol game on the TV next to us, but we were so much louder so I think they got a bit annoyed.”
While the Spanish might have found the Irish fans a mild annoyance, McNaught said the French were a bit more open with their hostility.
“After our two game watches, I think the French culture isn’t particularly fond of American football, or at least its fans,” she said. “We always get really odd looks when we show up to the pubs with our jerseys and other game day gear on.”
While students are thrilled to be in a different country and immersed in a different culture, they said they never miss Notre Dame more than on Saturdays.
“Just watching the game, even from a bar in Madrid, made all of us feel the whole football Saturday feeling again and made us miss campus,” Ledden said.
McNaught said the game watches in France have made her miss the excitement of being in the stadium, but there are other aspects of watching the game in another country that spoil the atmosphere.
“You can’t help but feel like something is wrong when the British announcer on Eurosport2 keeps referring to the Notre Dame quarterback as ‘Jake Montana’ throughout the entire broadcast,” she said.