During the first weeks of my internship, the softball team of the think tank I work for was participating in the play off games in an unofficial softball league (softball a simpler version of baseball, and somewhat similar to pesäpallo in Finland, with a few differences). I went to watch two of the games to get a hang of what softball is about, and to cheer on our team.
At the first game, a coworker said to me that this is one of my quintessential American experiences. Softball is quintessentially American, a part of American culture. And during this fall I have had the chance to experience many more quintessentially American events and happenings. Here are a few of them:
I went volunteering. My workplace organizes a volunteer shift every month, and one night I had the opportunity to join and I helped handing out meals at an organization that provides help for homeless and people in need.
I have experienced Halloween and Thanksgiving, both of which I’ve already written about, and in New York I also went to watch a part of the Veteran’s Day Parade on 5th Avenue. These are holidays we don’t celebrate in Finland, if you don’t count Halloween, and you really can’t compare there. And speaking of Halloween, another fall activity here in the U.S. is to visit an orchard to buy apples and pumpkins, which we also did during our road trip to Shenandoah.
Apart from softball, there are also other American sports I have wanted to experience while I’m here. I went to The Bullpen to watch one the Washington Nationals final games in the Baseball World Series, and when they won, I went to the Victory Parade at the National Mall to see the players and the trophy with an ocean of other red- and navy-clothed fans. I have seen an ice hockey game in California before (LA Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks), but when in a new hometown you need to cheer for the home team, so I went to watch the Washington Capitals play against Montreal Canadians – unfortunately the Canadians won. I also went to my first basketball game ever: the Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic – unfortunately also ending in a victory for the visiting team.
Along with Thanksgiving and Halloween, one of the most “special” American experiences I’ve had was going to an American football game. We went with my roommate to watch the Washington Redskins play against the Detroit Lions. There were a surprising number of Lions fans in the audience – on the other hand DC is a city where a lot of people have moved from elsewhere, and they might of course still be rooting for the team from their original home town. There was a live band playing in the corridor around the stadium and the atmosphere was cheery despite the quite chilly wind. Before the game, I had got an “American Football 101” crash course earlier in the fall by my roommate, but I didn’t really know anything about the game. Afterwards, I have to admit that it’s one of the more engaging sports to watch! This is due to how football is played: each team has four tries – or downs – to get 10 yards closer to the other team’s goal post. So at the end of each of these tries, you have an outcome: either the team advanced, or they didn’t – and it either ends in cheering or groans from the audience. So, in a way you are not constantly waiting for the team to score, instead you are engaged all the time as the team tries to either advance on the field, or prevent the opposing team from advancing closer to the goal post. The Redskins won this game, and afterwards the Redskins orchestra played outside of the stadium and the atmosphere was almost carnivalesque. So much fun!
Here are a few pictures from these events: