An American Abroad During Elections

If we can vote while we're abroad, so can you.

On November 6th, I walked into my science class and the first question my Spanish-American professor asked me was: “did you vote?” She proceeded to ask each American citizen that same question as they shuffled in. And, to her delight, most students proudly shook their heads yes.

My university is an American university in Spain, meaning I get to enjoy the Spanish culture and language while also studying in English for an American degree (which is apparently one of the more flexible degrees to have for opportunities to work abroad).

My university is filled with permanent and study abroad students from all over the world. The diversity is truly incredible, but the vast majority of students are American. So, on November 6th, there was mumbling in the student lounge about what was going to happen with midterm elections. Will the Democrats take over? Are you going to stay up late in order to see the results? Did you send in your absentee ballot? One of my friends and I spent a good portion of our history class scanning news websites for any updates. I mean, elections are historical, and also a little bit more interesting to me right now than the differences between Sparta and Athens.

I’m usually surrounded by Americans when I’m in class, yet I sometimes feel out of the loop with American news and culture; it takes a few days for any big news to head my way. And music. And TV. And movies. But that’s another article for another day.

Most of my news comes from a foreign source, like The Telegraph or El País. For example, when I typed in “elections” into Google, the options available to me were from The Guardian and BBC, which are British news sources. And CNN snuck in there, too.

american
Good old Google search results.

Getting my American news from a European source gives me a different view on what’s happening, which is a blessing and a curse. I like having the opportunity to see how Europe views Americans and American news, but at the same time, sometimes I’d rather have the American angle of the story.

There’s no doubt that there has been and will be plenty of coverage on US politics in the next few days, which in my opinion, is great. The United States is a world powerhouse and other countries care about what we do politically because it affects our economy, our environment, our culture. I think everyone should be educated, either in class or through media campaigns or through self-discovery, on the importance of voting. It was exciting to see people on social media getting fired up about elections, offering resources to people on how to register to vote. It was exciting to see citizens getting excited about our right in our democracy.

Voting is a right we have as Americans. It hurts me to see people who aren’t taking advantage of this right, at home or abroad. There are plenty of US citizens in other countries who have requested, filled out, and returned absentee ballots. If they can do it, so can you.

Vote! Via www.aclufl.org

I was truly glad to see that American citizens, students and workers alike, who are abroad during an important day for the American political system, care about what happens. Yeah, we’re abroad, but we still care about what happens to our home country, so that’s why we vote and stay up to date on the news any way we can.

0

Also published on Medium.

Sierra is a junior studying international business and Spanish at Saint...