Thoughts on the World: Fun à l’Americain

The United States has always been viewed as a melting pot subserving cultures around the world. No need to travel across the ocean to find an Egyptian scarf or an Irish claddagh. You may find ethnic materials sometimes even in the most remote town within this vast country.

Therefore, as a foreigner arrives in the soil of this fiesta land, he or she ought to keep in mind that the American culture is mostly a representation of a collection of cultural ideas.

That does not mean that there is not a cultural trend inborn in this country. Pop culture for the most part was built within the American society. For instance, homecoming and tailgating are exclusively American traditions, and as a foreigner, those are entities needed to experience the true American culture.

Although it is a myth, numerous times, people wonder if the United States is free of authentic traditions not realizing that many practices celebrated elsewhere are American practices in nature. American traditions are incorporated in the other countless traditions coming from around the world.

There may not be a folkloric culture in the United States, but all of those contemporary values, including watching a football game on a Sunday night, grilling on a Labor Day weekend and joining a fraternity or sorority in college, are parts of this American sensation.

This past weekend was Homecoming weekend at Robert Morris University, which meant that the entire university was beautifully decorated in white, red and blue, and the campus atmosphere and ambiance was exalted.

Students, dressed in cocktail attires, gathered inside Sewall Center which was transformed into a gigantic dance floor. The next day, parents, alumni, students and RMU football fans all scattered between Sewall and Joe Walton stopping at each table whether to donate to the variety of fundraisers or to grab a hotdog bun and/or a colonial cheerful gear.

In the upper parking lot of the Sewall Center, where the heart of the tailgate dwelled, the smell of grilled food disseminated all the way through the front of the stadium.

I walked through the heavy traffic with music blustering through the crowd, and in the back of my mind paraded the same thought, “this is a true American environment.”

Everyone was having fun. During the game, the overpacked stadium never missed to cheer for the touchdowns and fueled at every miss and penalty.

It was a truly beautiful scenery of RMU under the stadium lights. As a foreigner, those are the kind of moments that remind me of the importance of a community bonding over a traditional ambiance, and for the United States, that was a community bonding time.

To truly know a culture, one must mingle with the people of the culture. So what better way to connect with the people of this contemporary land?