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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

VIEWS OF AMERICA FROM ABROAD

I'm going to preface this post and just go ahead and put it out there that I vehemently opposed Donald Trump's election. I've never thought he was a fit leader for our country and I did not vote for him in November.

This post is not meant to be a roast of Donald Trump. Although I could definitely do that, and if you'd like to join let me know and we can make that happen, but today, I want to share what has been perhaps the most unnerving aspect of studying abroad so far - how other countries view my country.



I'm in a program with about 175 international students. Of that, 14 of them are American. We've become a rather tight knit group so far, but there is certainly one thing we've all noticed during our week and a half here in Ireland - no one here likes Donald Trump. I arrived on Inauguration Day and there were protests across Dublin opposing him. There have been multiple protests since then against him, in the City Centre, near the Ambassador's place in Phoenix Park, and so much more.

Every time I get into a cab, buy a cup of coffee, or just happen to end up talking to a local citizen, they immediately recognize that I am American from my accent, and after they confirm that I am American, the next question they ask me is this - "So Donald Trump, eh?"

I don't think they're asking me if I voted for him. I don't think they're asking me if I like him. I think they are asking me if I'm aware of what is happening in my home country and if I care about it, if I have a problem with it, if I'm doing anything about it.

Depending on the situation (i.e. how much time I have to talk to them), I usually groan, make it clear that I do not condone his actions thus far, and from there the conversation depends on the length of time I have with them, be that the longevity of a taxi ride or a longer chat with a waiter or local who gave me directions.

But, if I had all the time in the world, and if I didn't give a damn about how others view my strong political views, here's what I like to think I would say:

Yes, sadly he is our president. I did not vote for him. I actually believe he is a vile human being and the fact that he weaseled his way into our nation's highest office horrifies me. Everything he has done so far horrifies me. From the executive order banning federal funding for women's healthcare to the wall to the immigration ban, it's just insane. Watching it from afar has been painful, frankly. Although I know I am fortunate beyond measure to be here studying in Ireland, I want to be home right now. I want to protest in Memphis, I want to march through the streets of Washington D.C., I want to be able to call my representatives without having to get wifi and Skype to actually work for once.

I want to be able to have some kind of voice that actually matters and I want the other branches of Congress to work together and stop him. Nearly every single action this man has taken since January 20th has been unethical, unconstitutional, or just downright backwards in my opinion. I'm disappointed in my Tennessee state representatives for siding with him in what I hope is merely a ploy to be in his good graces rather than a genuine belief in his policies and ideas. I'm disappointed in the previous administration for not acting on the information that the election was won unfairly. Yes, I miss Obama anyway. A lot. No, I'm not really sure what kind of country I'm going to go home to in May. And yes, I feel a bit helpless over here. Aside from donating to the ACLU and calling, I'm not sure what else I can do. I'm not even sure if it would make a difference.

Every professor I've had talks about him. They view him as one of the best marketers of all time. We study his tactics, and all of the Americans in the class simply shrug in embarrassment while the professor lectures on to a classroom of American, German, Spanish, and French students about how a country that has long been called the best country in the world has fallen so far in such a short amount of time. His audacity is what made him attractive, according to these PhD holding people. He didn't care what others said and he wasn't indebted to anyone (Politically, that is. Financially, well, I guess we're all still waiting on that one aren't we?), so he could say anything and everything and he did.

I cried when I watched the election results come in. After Michigan turned red, I realized that it was happening, he was winning. I kept joking to my friends and family that I was leaving on Inauguration Day because I didn't want to be in the country when he was sworn in. I didn't. But now, I wish I was in America defending my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens rather than defending my citizenship here.

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Thoughts? I want to read them!
xx, Victoria