With Thursday’s kickoff fast approaching, thousands of ASU students are gearing up for the first football game; the first chance to raise their hands in pitchforks and scream with the rest of the rambunctious student section.
But for some international students, the culture of the student section is still a bit foreign.
Theater senior Abraham Ntonya said it was a cultural shock to experience football season his first year at ASU. In Malawi, his home country, soccer is the national sport.
“It was quite overwhelming because they tell you about college spirit from the very beginning,” Ntonya said. “Sun Devil spirit and pride seem to be so important.”
As a freshman, Ntonya won a ticket to attend the first football match of the season. It was a completely new experience and he enjoyed the feeling of unity, Ntonya said.
“You can see how much it means to a lot of people and you become a part of that,” he added.
In Malawi, the community supports college sports but the fans are not as fervent as they are in the U.S., Ntonya said.
“We’re not so fortunate, so there is no chance to travel all over the country to play against other universities,” he said. “Sports are more local.”
Ntonya has worked as security staff for several ASU sporting events and said he enjoys being at the games.
“Everyone loves it when we win,” he said. “It’s always a beautiful thing to watch.”
Electrical engineering graduate student Pratyaksh Sharma, from India, said he does not enjoy football but likes the culture behind it.
“In the U.S. you can pursue your passion during college,” he said. “If you want to be a football player you can become one. I enjoy that because spirit is good and unity is even better.”
Sharma added the greatest difference between U.S. and India is that sports are played mostly at a professional and not a collegiate level in India.
Sharma has been to some games and likes the atmosphere at the stadium.
“I find the game slightly aggressive, but it is exciting to be there with everybody.” Sharma said. “Maybe I will go again this season.”
Electrical engineering graduate student Sharon David, who also came to ASU from India, said he plans to go to his first football game this season.
“In India, college sports are not as important as (they are) here,” David said. “When I first got here it seemed crazy, but now I want to go to a game and experience it.”
David said his friends have taught him how the game is played.
“Before, I knew just very little about it from movies,” David. “Now that I know more I look forward to going.”
Electrical engineering sophomore Zhipeng Zheng said he did not know much about football before coming to ASU from China.
“I went to a game and the students were so excited,” Zheng said. “We didn’t know what was happening. It was strange but exciting at the same time.”
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