A couple weeks ago, on my way back from the Luxembourg campus, I encountered a group of teenagers in a gazebo adjacent to my house. These teenagers are Luxembourgish degenerates. They worship Machine Gun Kelly, party in parks and none of them are in school nor working. This motley group drew me into conversation; I live in a small town and the sight of another teenager surprised them. They were clearly engaged in nefarious activities; bottles were strewn everywhere and the smell of smoke was in the air. After assuring them that no, I’m not a cop, I’m an American, we started talking. One of the first questions asked by a Luxembourgish miscreant was how I viewed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s healthcare legislation. This was an introduction to the amazing American political fluency exhibited by many Europeans.
This semester of mine spent in Luxembourg has been absolutely extraordinary. Going into it, though, I had concerns that I would be out of the loop in America. Today is an extraordinary time in domestic politics, and citizen participation has never been higher. Grassroot movements are forming in my hometown and cities across America. As a politics major/nerd, I was worried there would be limited discourse available in Europe. I was wrong.
I quickly learned that a taxi driver in Barcelona knows more about America’s international policy than most political science majors at Miami. As soon as most Europeans heard my accent, the first question was “How do you feel about Trump?” Everyone from baseball players to waitresses have researched opinions on his policies concerning everything from Israel to North Korea
I am not a Trump supporter, which makes these conversations easier. In a small melting pot like Luxembourg, which is home to many different cultures from France, Germany and Portugal, there is no large nationalistic movement. I do sympathize with my pro-Trump friends, however. I was at a pub in Dublin when an Irish couple overheard my American friend and me. They turned to us and asked us about politics, and after my friend proudly said he was pro-Trump, the couple said they would not let us leave until they showed my friend the error in his ways. It was a long and unproductive night for all involved.
Many conservative friends of mine will understandably not admit to voting for Trump when in Europe to avoid consternation. The political leanings of Europe favor former President Barack Obama much more than Trump. Europeans take for granted many of the social safety nets that Americans debate over, and find it ludicrous that a major party argues over the right to universal health care.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, studying abroad is a worthwhile experience. Europeans have far less stake in American legislation and as such, do not display the same vitriol towards it. Their disagreements with Trump are ideological and not personal. A benefit to being abroad is that I often felt like I was representing America in my conversations and as such, kept up to date on my current events. I could not let an Amsterdam Uber driver know more than an American politics major. If you go to Europe, do not expect to be harangued by liberals, but be able to defend your position and enter into conversations with local degenerates when given the opportunity.