Quite recently I was asked about the differences between studying in the U.S. and studying in Sweden. Being such a diverse topic, I didn’t know exactly how to answer the question and ended up mumbling something very vague and only quasi-understandable. Thinking about it a little more, I realize that there are a lot of differences when it comes to student life, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about one of the biggest differences: college sports.
College football (and I am of course referring to the so-called “american football” now, not soccer) in the U.S. is very popular and the fact that I’ve made it through four years of higher education at University of Oregon without understanding a single thing about the sport is a true testament to my nerdom.
Just to give a little background, I went to college (same thing as university) in Eugene, Oregon, about two hours south by car from my hometown of Portland. Eugene is a college-town, with a population of a little over 150,000, of which 20,000 are students. The Willamette River runs through it, as in Portland, but it looks a lot nicer in Eugene since it’s upstream and all the nasty pollution either collects or is simply generated in Portland (this is a guess, I don’t actually know). After my sophomore year (second year), I landed a job in an optics lab on campus and discovered that Eugene completely empties out during the months of June, July and August. At this point the college-party hub of Oregon becomes a cozy, quiet little town and the locals breath a collective sigh of relief.
You can’t go anywhere in Eugene without seeing some sort of football poster. You might find yourself standing at the salsa counter in the local Burrito Boy restaurant, contemplating sneaking a little extra salsa when you look up to see a life size poster of a grizzly football player baring their teeth in the pre-tackle moments of a match. At such times, sneaking a little extra salsa doesn’t seem so important.
There are (as far as I know) two big public universities in Oregon, confusingly enough called University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The football team at University of Oregon is called “the ducks” and has team colors yellow and green whereas the team at Oregon State University is “the beavers” with team colors black and orange. Once a year they play a game against each other called the “Civil War Game” (get it? Because they’re both Oregon teams, so it’s Oregonians playing against…Oregonians!).
Now, I have a strong belief in quality and smart economy, which more often than not leads to me buying winter coats of relatively good quality that I’ve found on sale because they had some sort of gruesomely ugly color that no one else wanted. One year, I made the horrible mistake of walking down the street on campus during the Civil War Game while wearing my shiny new, bright orange winter coat (that is, I was wearing the color of the Enemy). To add insult to injury, I was in my hair-dyeing phase and was sporting a new bright orange coiffure. You can believe that I never made such a mistake again!