THAT time of the year is approaching – yes, the Superbowl. Most years I have remained ignorant of the Superbowl hooplah. I don’t really understand football and I am a disinterested spectator for sports where you cannot see the players faces. However, after living outside of the U.S. for five months, I feel a sudden urge to participate as many American activities as possible, and the Superbowl is at the top of my list for “Americaness”.
Earlier this week I spoke with a co-worker about the Superbowl, though I am truly the least qualified person to explain this event to a foreigner (it involved some furtive googling). The conversation went something like this:
Coworker: “What teams are playing?”
Me: “The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos”
Coworker: “A group of the volunteers is meeting to watch the game? What food are you making?” (Balkan people love food as much as I do)
Me: “Yes, and we will have a bunch of food…nachos, chicken wings, beer, etc.”
Coworker: “Chicken wings? Not chicken fingers?”
For some reason this comment makes me assume that my coworker does not know what chicken wings are, and I promptly launch into an attempt to describe chicken wings. How does one describe chicken wings? For me it involved flapping my arms. My coworker interrupts me to say that he knows what chicken wings are. *Sigh*
In working abroad, I have found that everyone has perceptions of what the other person knows and we all have surprising little pockets of knowledge as well as glaring deficits. For example, I had no idea that everyone in my town knew about twerking. Thank you Miley Cyrus for your contribution to educating the world about America. The process of discovering each other’s knowledge is rather like shooting in the dark with the person you are shooting at does not make a sound. Did I hit the mark, or did I end up putting another bullet through the insulation? Or rather, you say something, wait for recognition or seek to identify whether the other party is just nodding along (which I am guilty of) before diving deep into the origins of the unknown subject or word.
I stood in my coworker’s shoes when my language tutor was teaching me vocabulary for time. We thoroughly covered the number of minutes in an hour, hours in a day, months in a year, etc. – in English. While it made me feel quite smart that I knew the answer to all of the questions, I also wanted to say that I already know these details as the measure of time is the same all over the world (at least I think so?).