My favorite time of the week is one most Penn students reserve for nursing their hangovers.

If it’s 10:30 on a weekend morning, you can often find me dressed, downtown and drinking. Oh, and watching football — you know, that sport where you use your foot to kick a ball? The one most of you call soccer? You’ll probably think it’s an attempt to relive my junior year abroad in London, or just to spend even more of my days in a caffeine and alcohol fueled haze, but this is what happens when you care enough about football in Philly. The four–hour time difference (at least) between here and the games in Europe necessitates dragging myself out of bed while the sun is over the Delaware, popping some Advil to kill my hangover and showing up at that bastion of sporting neutrality, the Irish pub, with one or two other equally committed guys.

I don’t have a team in England, not one that will be shown on an American TV anyway. But the reasons for all these mornings go well beyond just blind support of a team. I’ve followed football since high school, so in London it was never that football seemed exotic to me. Indeed, it was the opposite: it felt normal, felt like home.

Nowadays my friends are left pondering why I can’t just come back to the cozier realms of baseball and American college football instead of shouting at them to be heard from a culture away. Most seem surprised it’s not a relic that I’d let fade out, like the bad accent they thought I’d come back with (I didn’t).

I know I’m not alone in this — students who immersed themselves in Parisian cafe culture return to find their friends choosing between Saxby’s and Starbucks, while all they can ask themselves is, does it even matter? There’s a sense of monotony, of unoriginality pervasive in University City, that it so often seems only we who return understand. Everyone else seems to look at us and wonder what we left behind when we made the trip home.

For me, though, that disconnect seems to end after walking through that door on weekend mornings, where Fox Soccer Channel blares on the other side, and I can talk about the Carling Cup without having to couch it in a putrid melting pot of mixed American sports metaphors. Regardless of who they root for, I share a kinship with everyone who walks through that door, my brother–in–arms for the day. It’s like that club we all wanted to make with our friends in elementary school. It just has better beer.

So here’s my latest offer of explanation: come join me to watch a game at Fado on 15th Street. I’ll be the guy with the empty coffee and the full pint, chowing down a hangover sandwich and loudly, obscenely praying that United concede another goal.