How To Watch the World Cup When You Know Nothing About the World Cup

Sunday night/Monday morning I crawled out of bed at 1:30 a.m. and cycled (rather wobbly) into town for the World Cup final. After spending the day fighting off a fever most likely caused by the limited sleep I’d had after a three-day holiday weekend, it probably wasn’t the best idea. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone, though. Towards the end the whole of Charlie’s seemed to be cheering for whichever team would end the match.

Admittedly I knew nothing about football before the World Cup, but I didn’t let that stop me from diving in. While I am relieved to resume normal sleeping patterns (Dear FIFA, please take into account all time zones before scheduling matches. kthxbye.) I definitely learned a lot and had loads of sleep-deprived fun.

If you are the only Yank amongst a hodgepodge of Brits and Europeans, hopefully this will help your future World Cup viewing.

When in doubt, research.

When I realized how big of a deal the World Cup is to the, uh, world I spent some time getting familiar with the beautiful game. I read articles, watched promo videos, and memorized names of players I would inevitably be asked about:

“Can you even name two players on the U.S. team?”

“Why yes, I can!”

Since the majority of my friends hail from the land of tea and crumpets I decided to support England as well as the U.S. And by support I mean to say those were the games I dragged myself out of bed for. According to personal interviews England really didn’t stand a chance, but who doesn’t love supporting the underdog?

Ultimately, this is the only article I found remotely useful:

The 30 Hottest Bearded Men of the World Cup

Although this one was also a fun read:

53 Reasons the German World Cup Team Might Actually Be the Hottest World Cup Team

It was also the reason I decided rather than support an actual team, it would be more fun to cheer for an individual player. Team Schürrle, because:

Two words: face paint.

No one can doubt your dedication if you wear enough face paint. Try it, you’ll see. People will also stop you on the street and ask for a picture with you. If you want to go all in I would also recommend investing in a flag-cape. If you’re from the U.S. it will also come in handy for Independence Day festivities and looks pretty hardcore flapping behind you while you cycle down the street. I was basically Captain America.

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Fake it ‘til you make it.

Really, this is the only tip you need. After you’ve stayed up until 5 a.m. to watch a game in a crowded bar, no one is really testing you on the offside rule.

Simply hold your painted head high and play follow the leader:

Did your friend just scream and shout? Scream and shout!

Is music unrelated to football playing? It’s halftime. Go use the toilet.

Are the announcers getting excited? Prepare for something to happen. Even if the commentary is in Thai, you can tell if something big is going down.

Did someone get angry and smash a glass on the floor? Step away, Charlie is about to get pissed and throw them out. You don’t want to be associated with people Charlie doesn’t like.

Are people wearing similar colors cheering? Those are your people, CHEER!

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Participant observation at it’s best.

When Familiar Becomes Foreign

While I was visiting my family and friends back home I heard a lot of, “You always write about the things you do, but we have no idea what your actual job is!”

Officially, I am the communications officer for PEPY Tours, an educational travel company. I am also part of the communications team for Learning Service, an advocacy group started by PEPY Tours promoting responsible volunteering practices. Besides managing our social media, which is essentially me talking to myself:

PEPY Tours: Check out what Learning Service is doing!

Learning Service: Thanks for sharing, PEPY Tours!

PEPY Tours: No problemo!

I also maintain our relationships with partner organizations, which includes writing a lot of articles, guest posts, etc. This past week I wrote an article for one of our partners, Everyday Ambassador, about the importance of keeping connected with our community back home even when it’s hard to relate:

When Familiar Becomes Foreign 

Weaving through Angkor Archaeological Park, we zipped past the mighty Angkor Wat on our way to a remote pagoda. I swiveled on the back of my friend Sreyneang’s motorbike to catch one last glance at the ancient temple before it disappeared from sight. Tourists lined streets, buying up elephant pants and snapping photos.

We stopped at the end of a dirt road and climbed the steep, concrete pagoda stairs. Sreyneang chatted with a brightly robed monk, asking in rapid Khmer if he would perform a water blessing for us. He set out a donation tray and motioned for us to have a seat on the woven mat in front of him. Raising his voice over the chatter of young monks watching a boxing match he recited a series of chants, tied red strings around our wrists, and instructed us to change for the water blessing.

Moving to another country introduces new ideas, beliefs, and cultural practices. At first, everything is foreign and confusing, but gradually the “otherness” begins to fade. The once shocking sight of women going about town in brightly colored pajama sets blurs into the background, and drinking from coconuts and hopping on the back of motorcycle taxis becomes part of your daily routine.

Please hop over to EverydayAmbassador.org to read the rest!

I know it’s not a complete run down of my day-to-day life, but hopefully this gives you a better idea of what I’m doing with the majority of my time (and the reason why blogging when I get home is usually the last thing on my mind…).

Being a 20-Something in Cambodia

Too often I get sucked into those bullet-point articles detailing some new epiphany about the greatness of life as a twenty-something. Each new list reads almost like a set of instructions: 10 Ways to Enjoy Being a Single 20-Something, or 15 Ways to Embrace Living Alone, or 20 Reasons to Love Being 20-Something.

By definition, I guess I am twenty-something, but if I were to follow some of the advice handed out by the all-knowing “Voice of Generation-Y”…well…you’ll see.

6 Reasons Why 20-Somethings Abroad Struggle to Live Up to 20-Something Standard

It’s ok to binge on Netflix.

First, Netflix is a luxury I wouldn’t be able to afford without the password to my family’s account (and I would bet this is true for 98.9% of the Millennials out there). Second, if I even want to open Netflix I have to download some IP scrambler and cross my fingers the movie gods are too dumb to figure out where I am. And third, most often than not my Internet connection is too slow to open Buzzfeed articles let alone stream an entire movie.

Don’t get me wrong, binge-watching TV shows and movies is one of my favorite past times. I just have to pre-decide what I want to watch and start the download three days in advance, which kind of takes all the fun out of it.

Now is the time to figure out you. Be selfish.

Number one priority when you move abroad by yourself: find a friend. You could argue finding food and shelter are at the top of that list, but those hassles are way more fun when you’ve found a companion to complain to. You can maybe pull off the selfish act around the friends you’ve had since you were in diapers, but there’s a history there. You can’t expect someone you’ve just met to take your selfish behavior because deep down they “know you mean well”. They don’t know you at all.

Honestly, I think this is dumb advice even to give those not living abroad. All relationships, friendships especially, have to be give and take. Otherwise, you’re just treating those around you like a psychologist, heaping your thoughts and problems on them without reciprocating (and I’d hazard a guess you don’t pay them, either).

Live alone? Eat that whole jar of Nutella. No one is around to stop you!

Nutella is like, $15 a jar here! And even if I could afford it, the whole “who’s there to stop you?” thing is a real problem. My amazing friends in the States sent me a giant jar in a Christmas package and I definitely ate spoonfuls on one too many occasions. Sure, having to cycle or walk to get anywhere is like a built-in exercise routine, but that only goes so far. You’d have to be out of your mind to think I’d take up jogging in this heat. I sweat enough, thank you.

Also, I think this “tip” shows just how much Gen-Yers struggle with self-control.

Leave those dishes in the sink and treat yo-self.

Not cleaning up after myself is so tempting, especially since I live alone. Who’s there to see it? Me. I live in a studio. I can see the sink from my bed. If I stretch I might even be able to reach it. Making my bed isn’t really an issue because 99% of the time it’s too hot to even use a sheet. But if I decide to leave dirty dishes in the sink the only one being “treated” are the ants.

Save relationships for later, now is the time to date around.

I recently read an article outlining the woes of finding love in the field. While meant for humanitarian aid workers, I live in a town heavily populated with NGOs, social enterprises, and volunteer organizations so I could relate. Not only are women in the vast majority here, it’s also is a very, very small town. By all means, date around; just be aware you will inevitably see your “dates” on a weekly, if not daily basis. Of course, you can always go the backpacker route. They are fun to flirt with since you’ll (hopefully) never see them again but remember they’ve most likely been traveling for months on end with very few showers and are probably shacked up in a 1242098524-person hostel dorm. Gross.*

Doll up for a girl’s night out!

Once I tried to put makeup on before a night out, nothing fancy, just some liquid foundation and mascara. Five minutes later it looked like my face was melting off. Tropical climates really only allow for minimal effort. Guaranteed that shower will have been in vain the minute you step outside.

Sure, you can dress up just keep it classy. Wear anything short and/or tight and you will be mistaken for a prostitute and might get followed home (feminism hasn’t really caught up here). You also don’t want to get mixed up with the backpacker girls and their crop-tops, booty-shorts, and feathered accessories. Leave them for the smelly, backpacker guys. They’re probably staying in the same 1298374-person dorm room anyway!

Now to binge on some pre-downloaded Orange is the New Black while eating peanut butter off a spoon.

The struggle is real.

*I apologize for my rather harsh description of backpacker dudes. While there are several that fit this mold, those I have met are pretty great and were really fun to hang out with/talk to. Sorry, Matt! Forgive me? 🙂