If you know me, you know that I’m the last person who would get into a debate about politics, let alone write an article about our current president. However, studying abroad puts me in that exact situation every day. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this would happen, but I couldn’t have imagined the frequency and intensity of it.
Let me give you an example: I’m at a bar on a Friday night, starting a conversation with someone I just met. We give the typical student-abroad conversation starters: What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Once the person I just met hears my American accent (I have one of those, I guess) and puts two and two together, the next question out of their mouth is always, “¿Que piensas sobre Donald Trump?”
I kid you not, I get this question on a daily basis from people at school, from people I meet in a café and from people I meet on the streets. It was the third question my host parents asked me when I arrived to Santiago. When a lot of people ask me my opinion, they often do it with a look in their eyes that says, “What is she going to say? Is she going to bash their president?” While sometimes I can give a quick, unbiased answer and we can laugh and move on to the next topic, there are other times when people keep asking me for more information. Questions come up, ranging from, “Do you support his Muslim ban?” to “Who’s going to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico? Is that still happening?” In addition all of this, each news station has at least one, if not more, news pieces about what is going on with President Trump in the U.S. every single night. Obviously, his election affects more than just us, and there are people who are watching our country and who are concerned about the future. Not everyone here hates him, but not everyone here supports him, either.
What’s shocking to me is not that people in Spain are concerned about how our country will operate under President Trump’s administration, but the fact that people in Spain, both young and old, strive to know about what is going on in our country, and moreover, that they are willing to talk about it with me, not in a way that’s accusatory, but in a way where they long for understanding. America is a world power. Because of that, many people have put our country under a microscope and are studying us, waiting to see what the next executive order is. In Santiago, there has been a lot of talk about Spanish businesses in other Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico and how those will be affected because of the presidency. President Trump’s relationship with the United Kingdom and Brexit are also widely talked about, since Spain and the UK are members of the European Union. Whenever I get past the “what do you think” question, I usually discover that the people I talk to (which are mainly university students), just want to hear an American’s perspective about it. Of course, these conversations can be awkward. What’s important to note is that talking about our president with others does not have to be a terrible ordeal, they can just be simple conversations without accusations, which the political world lacks a majority of the time.
Regardless if you yourself are a Trump supporter or not, his presidency is going to affect a substantial amount of people over the next four years. I encourage you all to take a tip from the people in Santiago: learn about and talk about what’s going on with our country, our presidency and how it affects others, from our next door neighbors to those around the world. Even though I’m halfway across the world, it is extremely important to be informed about what is going on, so everyone back in the states should strive to be informed as well.