I think it is safe to say that media marathoning has a way of creating community and connection amongst different people. It can unite readers and writers and create consensus on the best shows. It can give old friends even more things to talk about. It can make a foreign student feel welcome and understood in another country.
That last sentence might not be as obvious, but that was my experience on a recent trip to Hungary. I went with a group of Nazareth students and faculty, with the purpose of presenting a paper at America Week. This occasion is a conference for students and professors, where each participant shares research about American culture. I presented a paper about marathoning and its influence on a viewer’s life. The presentation went well, and I received questions from Hungarians and Americans alike, but I don’t think that marathoning is exclusive to the U.S. anymore. In fact, marathoning helped this shy viewer make friends and plenty of conversation abroad.
I spent half of my spring break with Rami, a local student in Veszprem, Hungary. I stayed at her home, met her friends, and got to know her family. I do not think that we would have gotten along half as well if it weren’t for marathoning. My first night staying with Rami was plagued with small talk and awkward pauses—until we started talking about my paper and our favorite shows. Turns out, we have a lot in common. As she says, she loves “series,” and I could not agree more. In fact, she is the only other person I have met who loves Happy Endings as much as I do. Seriously, she’s the only one in Hungary or America. It turns out marathoning can create community on an international level. It helped me break the ice, come out of my shell and get to know my awesome host family. Maybe the Secretary of State should research his foreign peers’ favorite shows in the future?
This international connection from marathoning has followed me back home. I recently sent Rami the Hunger Games trilogy, as a result of our conversation about the movie. I am interested to see whether she prefers Jennifer Lawrence to the text’s version of Katniss. In any case, I have never been more thankful for having marathoning in my life. It made my trip to Hungary academically and socially successful.