In mid-2016 I found out that I would be living abroad for the entirety of 2017. Being born and raised in the USA, I had never traveled overseas before, and the only international travel I had done was a day trip to Canada. So the prospect of living outside was both exhilarating and frightening. Of course, there was the daunting task of finding schools, housing, etc., but I was still quite excited. Among all of this, the 2016 election was causing a stir. I absolutely despised Trump, and still do, so my year abroad gave me hope that even if he won, I wouldn’t be there for all of it (and, there was still always the chance he would be impeached while I was abroad).
While friends and family joked “If he wins, I’ll move to Canada, I swear!” I was busy packing and preparing for the long plane ride to Australia.
Now, half a year later, I’ve been living here in Australia for about two months, and I’ve experienced a lot. Half of me is thankful for the educational opportunity living abroad has brought me, while the other half wishes I was back in America speaking my mind, participating in protests and attending rallies.
From the moment that I went through customs and people heard my American accent, I have been constantly bombarded with questions about my opinion of my country’s laws and politics. People here aren’t subtle about it in the least; it’s seen as a simple conversation starter. Since my American accent associates me with the U.S., and because the decision made in Washington have such extensive international repercussions, affecting the lives of people all over the world, people see it as an opportunity to either learn or to express their opinion. I’ve been assumed to be a Trump supporter many times and heard more rants than I can count. But all in all, I understand.
Before I left the U.S., I didn’t realize what a huge impact America has on the rest of world. Of course, I knew that our politics affected people outside of America, but not to the extent I do now. We’re a global leader, and yet we have the nerve to tell foreigners to butt out of our politics? Especially when our political climate is so absurd and unpredictable since Trump became “our” president. We should be willing to listen to outsiders and take their opinions at least at an equal stance to ours.
In the U.S., the education system (and president’s tweets) are both focused mainly on America, and give children the mentality that America is the greatest and most important country in the world. What I’ve learned since moving abroad is that this is simply, at the least, a blatant lie. To teach children that we should only focus on our country and that it can’t get any better than this, isn’t a healthy belief to spread.
Take shootings, for example. In America, it’s gotten to the point where such an event often doesn’t make it much further than the state or regional news stations. In Australia, there hasn’t been a mass shooting for over twenty years. Perhaps instead of downgrading other countries systems and ideas, we should celebrate their wins, as well as learn from them.
It’s no wonder that I hear endless rants and receive constant questions – America is in a position where we can help others, but we often only think about ourselves. Trump talks as if foreign relations are useless, and that the only people we need are Americans. In a post-election U.S., we the people should look at politics with an open mind, examining all sides before choosing our own. To really “make America great again” we need to consider the many effects that our country’s policies has on others and perhaps learn a thing or two from our international peers.