Like every A-list celebrity, love them or hate them… everyone is talking about them. That is America summed up to the rest of the world.
My first time abroad I was stunned by how universal America truly is. I assumed this was dramatized but it’s mind blowing to witness. More often than not, walking into a bar or restaurant in a foreign country you will be greeted with the sounds of American music. I would walk down the streets and see solely American movie posters. I’m not trying to say we are the center of the universe, but I feel it’s important to understand the power your country has in the world. Like it or not, you are representing your homeland while traveling. This is heightened during election time, times 1,000. Which brings me to my first point.
As an American, you are suddenly the spokesperson for all things politics, foreign policy, economics, etc.
Forget small talk. Every initial conversation goes something like this:
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, so what do you think about Trump?”
Instantaneously you are thrown into a deep, political conversation with a perfect stranger. All “manners” are thrown aside. I mean, since when is it okay to ask who someone is voting for, much less a person you met five minutes prior? To me, that seems equivalent to asking whoever passes me on the street how much their annual salary is. Unlike when I’m in the States, I authentically enjoy hearing the political opinions of people from different countries. It’s intensely eye opening to hear an outside, un-biased opinion.
You quickly learn that while most everyone knows all there is to know about our government and current election, we are predominantly uneducated on anyone but ourselves.
Ask me who the leader of Croatia is and I would look back at you dumbfounded. Turn the tables and ask a Croatian about our election and they will know both candidates with their opinions on each. (At least, every Croatian I spoke with did.) This is even true to our closest neighbors, Canada. I have never felt more uneducated and embarrassed than speaking with people from all over the world who knew so much about my country and in return I knew so little about theirs. Realizing how much of an impact your country has in the world is pretty empowering. Take pride in living in America. We take so much for granted, especially in the midst of our most bizarre election to date.
You suddenly feel the need to defend your country, despite your personal opinions on the nominees.
Being from America is exactly like having an annoying sibling. You can make fun of them all you want with no remorse, but the second someone else does… game over. How dare they? When you travel, you suddenly become a part of something bigger. You realize whom you represent in this world, and that is America. Your home. Your country. You just can’t help but love them even after all they put you through.
You want to scream, “Please talk to me about food, the weather, bed bugs, ANYTHING else!”
As much fun as debating can be, let’s be real. I came here to explore a new city and culture not talk about politics. Every. Single. Day. becomes a political debate. There is no escaping it, and once it starts it doesn’t stop. Look on the bright side though. One day you’ll look back and think about when you were sitting on a beach in Greece, or the mountains of Switzerland, discussing with strangers who you thought the new “Leader of the Free World” would be.
Let’s face it, no one is forgetting this election.