The Orange Blues

Ciao. I’m writing from my abroad home in Florence, Italy after an exhilarating, recent weekend excursion to Amsterdam. While Holland’s capital is well known for its green (Cannabis and locally-brewed Heineken are both legal for those over 18 and 16, respectively) and red (the city’s Red Light District is world famous), I spent much of my trip with Orange on my mind.

iAMISSING 'Cuse

I AMissing 'Cuse

My current semester in Europe has been an eye-opening experience that I will always treasure. I’ve escaped my comfort zone, met interesting people, and have had a blast while traveling throughout many beautiful cities like Rome and Pisa. Still, as with most choices in life, studying overseas has had its tradeoffs.

While I thoroughly enjoy exploring the world, it is hard being away from the Syracuse University friends and lifestyle I’ve grown to love.  Giving up a semester on campus is indeed a sacrifice, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about school daily. In addition to missing the routines and people back at SU, being thousands of miles away from one of the nation’s top-ranked college basketball teams has made my European experience bittersweet.

Despite all the wonders of modern technology, the six-hour time difference and my apartment’s lack of a television have made keeping up with the Orange a grueling task.  Italy’s weak Internet signal makes streaming online broadcasts virtually impossible, and scrambling to local bars to catch live games has been incredibly chaotic. Sure, it’s cool watching games in a foreign place, but it’s impossible to do so without wishing you were packed in the Carrier Dome’s student section watching the action in person. Italian soccer matches are definitely intense, but not quite the same.

Is Fiorentina Purple the new Orange?

Throughout my time at school, I’ve attended virtually every home basketball game. I’ve even followed the team on the road to Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Madison Square Garden to show my support. Not being in Syracuse for the College GameDay rout over Villanova made me feel record levels of what I somberly call “The Orange Blues.” Still, I’m trying hard to keep things in perspective. I’m enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while doing my best to fully experience another.

I always believed this year’s Orange team would be successful, but Coach Boeheim’s squad appears to have what it takes to be special. Watching Syracuse contend for a national championship while abroad was never something I gave much thought to, but now I’m starting to prepare myself for this very real possibility (winning the upcoming Big East Tournament would certainly help the team’s chances).

Could an Orange title run simultaneously make me feel better and worse? While I’m whole-heartedly pulling for SU, I can’t fathom what it would be like to miss the on-campus celebration. It’s tough wanting to be in two places at once. Still, viewing this year’s basketball team as an added bonus to my abroad experience is a good way to appreciate all that I have going for me on two continents. Perhaps it’s also the only way to cope with the onset of what the Italians would refer to as “Marzo Madness.”

Wesley Johnson

Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson

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