What It’s like to be Studying Abroad When America is in Shambles

Whenever I get asked where I’m from and I answer “The United States,” the immediate response is to laugh and say, “ahh Trump.”

Being an American student studying in Europe, the first impression anyone has of us are the distasteful actions of our president. We are truly the laughing stock of the world and I have experienced it first hand. People I meet on the streets, friendly sales associates, and even the Italian professors joke about the president and we just have to laugh along with them because there is truly nothing else we can do.

It is so difficult being an ocean away from home with the constant threat of war, seeing every event unfold on social media hours after it has happened due to the time change.

Before leaving for abroad in August, right around the time of Charlottesville, I was genuinely afraid to be a Jew in America and of an impending nuclear war, but I knew I was going somewhere safe, which is strange to think of a foreign country as being safer. However, I also knew I would be worried about my family. You never know if Trump’s next tweet will start a war. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely loving my time here in Italy and Europe, but at this rate I’m not necessarily looking forward to coming home to a country in shambles; a country that has strayed so far from what we were built on.

“It's weird being in Europe when so much is going on back home not just being a US citizen but being specifically Puerto Rican, I'm not sure if it's because I don’t watch the European news networks here or read the daily newspapers but it feels as though there is no coverage about what is happening back at home. They love to show the crazy things Trump does but even with the whole shooting in Vegas, I didn't hear anything about it here [today] from anyone or anything about Hurricane Maria or when the earthquake hit in Mexico. I feel like Europe being geographically apart from America makes them at times disconnected emotionally as well.” -Alejandra, Senior at Kent State University

"Even though there's a little bit of a disconnect, I think social media makes it easy to stay involved." -Abbey, Senior at Kent State University

"It's pretty difficult being abroad when you see a tragedy like the Vegas shooting happen. After being here for a month you start to get comfortable and make your apartment homey and such. The U.S starts to feel like a distant place until something like this happens and then you feel like you've been knocked out of your fairytale experience and thrown back into reality. I all of a sudden have an urge to go home and to be around my friends and family; my feelings of being homesick have become heightened. I can't help but feel guilty when I'm abroad having the time of my life and those back at home are suffering from tragedy after tragedy." -Sam, Junior at Bryant University

"It is sometimes uncomfortable being a representative of the United States in a foreign country right now. Uncomfortable because I never know how Europeans I meet will treat me knowing that I am an American. Will they question my kindness, knowing that our president is anything but kind? Or will they accept that I am not my president and, like over 50% of Americans, I do not condemn hate speech, an immigration ban, or potential war with North Korea. Being an American citizen is a privilege and an honor, however, being a temporary resident of Italy has taught me that we may not always be 'the city upon a hill." -Maddie, Junior at Kent State University