I can’t believe it’s nearly time to go back home to Colorado. The past six months has gone so fast! When I signed up to do a semester in Melbourne, I didn’t expect to get so involved in the place. Honestly, I only chose Melbourne because it was the one destination that qualified me to apply for a travel scholarship. But I’ve really adapted to the place.
For one thing, I’ve been adjusting to the fact that college sports aren’t much of a thing here. Being on the baseball team is such a big part of my life that it was kind of a shock to realise that nobody here gives much of a toss about varsity games. Sure, Melbourne locals are into their “footy”, but that whole topic confused the heck out of me for a while – the terminology for that sport is all different here, it turns out, as are the rules of the game.
Then there’s the fact that baseball players are in the minority of sportspeople down under. The campus I’ve been on doesn’t even have a baseball team! In order to play, I’ve had to cobble together a recreational league (oh, and improvise my own baseball cage netting… no biggie). Not to mention that none of my players knew anything about the sport.
I have more of an appreciation now of how sporting cultures differ from country to country, which is relevant to my studies in sports management. One thing that’s particularly struck me is that soccer is way more popular here than it is back home. I was surprised that the campus sports department – the one that didn’t have a baseball cage – had angled soccer nets permanently set up.
I guess it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, while certain things may differ throughout the world, your key preferences will be reflected wherever you are. I certainly expected that to be the case in Australia – how different from the states can it really be? Quite different, it turns out. And differences in sporting culture are just the tip of the iceberg.