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Students stay connected to Notre Dame football while studying abroad

| Friday, September 22, 2017

DUBLIN — There are a few places where smoke machines are almost always a welcome addition — under the stage at a concert, in the background while a magician wows you with a dazzling new trick or set just off stage in a performance of “Macbeth” to give the performance an air of mystery.

The very select set of circumstances where smoke machines enhance a situation do not usually include having them under your feet while trying to watch football in a European club at 2 a.m., but for junior Katie Lutz, it was the only way to watch the Fighting Irish take on Georgia on Sept. 9.

“A lot of Notre Dame kids showed up in their game day gear, their t-shirts, their sweatshirts,” Lutz said. “Everyone else at the club was wearing party clothes. It was an odd atmosphere.”

Lutz, who is studying at University College Dublin in Ireland this semester, is one of many Notre Dame students participating in one of Notre Dame International’s 48 study abroad programs this fall. Most of these students — who are participating in programs in cities ranging from Dublin to Jerusalem to Beijing — still seek a way to be connected to campus while abroad. For these students, watching Notre Dame football by any means necessary helps create this connection.

Junior Ryan Hergenrother, who cheered alongside Lutz at the “Living Room” club for the Georgia game, said attending these game watches helps keep the Notre Dame community relevant while abroad.

“The best way to experience the community at Notre Dame is in Notre Dame Stadium,” he said. “Even though we’re away from that, it’s nice to have a lively sense of community even when you’re so far away.”

Hergenrother said students are able to bring stadium traditions with them wherever they watch the games.

“We managed to do push-ups,” he said.

While being able to watch the game in a club was a unique experience, Lutz said, it was not without its problems.

“The difficulty with the time change is that when the club closes at 2:30 a.m. and it’s halftime, they do not care it’s only halftime,” she said.

Lutz said the students were forced to quickly take a cab back to their dorm, where they all crowded around a laptop and watched the game on a live stream until 4:30 a.m. as the Irish ultimately fell to the Bulldogs.

Staying up until all hours of the morning to watch football games has become commonplace for junior Montana Giordano, who is studying abroad in Perth, Australia this semester.

For the first game of the season — with a 3:30 a.m. kickoff time in Western Australia — Giordano said he and other Notre Dame students in Perth were stuck in a sparsely populated area of the country.

“We didn’t have good Wi-Fi connection because we were in the middle of the wheat belt in Australia, so I pulled up the radio broadcast,” he said. “Afternoon games are pretty tough because they’re at 3:30 in the morning here. So you either go to bed early or stay awake the whole night.”

Giordano said these late nights and early mornings spent huddled around a radio broadcast — as Notre Dame fans did more than half century ago — helped to bring together the students, many of whom were not close friends before.

“It’s really cool, you get to bond with the Notre Dame people here a little more by enjoying the games together,” he said. “It’s just a good experience.”

This enjoyment of games did not come without a twinge of longing to be back in South Bend for the game, Giordano said.

“You also sort of have the feeling that you’re missing out — you see everyone’s snapchats and see everyone at the game,” he said.

It is this connection to the team and the University that motivated Giordano to go to extreme lengths to tune in to watch the Fighting Irish, he said.

“We should be dedicated fans,” Giordano said. “You should watch the game wherever you are.”

Lutz echoed Giordano on the need to take four hours a week — no matter what time it is or where she has to watch — and find a way to watch the Irish on Saturdays or the occasional early Sunday morning.

“I am emotionally invested in this team and they can’t let me down,” she said. “Just because I’m on a different continent doesn’t mean I’m going to miss out on the best season of the year.”

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About Lucas Masin-Moyer

Lucas Masin-Moyer is a senior at Notre Dame majoring in Political Science and American Studies. He serves as Assistant Managing Editor, lived in Morrissey Manor and hails from Telford, Pennsylvania.

Contact Lucas