Even though they can’t vote, many international students at Miami University are paying just as close attention as their citizen peers.
Miami’s international students are well informed about this election, according to Richard Little, special assistant to the provost. Little assists with providing academic support to and programming for Miami’s international students.
“From the little bit of traveling I did overseas, I think people would be surprised how many people watch (the election),” Little said. “I think that runs true for the students here.”
Because Miami has about 550 international students now, Little said it is hard to characterize them as a whole.
Still, Little said many students seem to wonder if America will really elect an African-American president.
“It’s not taking sides, they just wonder if it’s going to be possible,” he said.
Senior Jerry Van Hove, originally from Belgium, has been following this election closely because the issues hit close to home.
“I live in America now, so I’ve been Americanized,” Van Hove said. “I don’t have plans to go back to Belgium and I’m going to get my citizenship eventually.”
Van Hove said he finds Obama’s nomination and the U.S. election process intriguing.
“This election is pretty historic with Barack Obama being the first black man to get the nomination,” he said.
Hannah Thomas, a junior from Singapore, has also been following the election closely.
“I think it’s really interesting watching American elections because where I’m from, we don’t have choices like that,” she said.
Pekka Pihlajamaki, an international student from Finland, said that because the United States is a dominant player in the international arena, this election is being closely watched overseas.
Pihlajamaki said he is critical of the campaigning and the amount of money spent on the process.
Thomas said she was surprised by the amount of money funneled into campaigning.
“On the one hand, I see how that can be beneficial, but I don’t know why so much money has to be involved,” she said.
However, Thomas said she was impressed by the amount of energy generated by the campaigns.
Van Hove also dislikes the campaigning he has seen.
“It’s been a lot more of ‘don’t vote for this person’ instead of ‘vote for me,'” he said. “I’d rather see them promoting themselves instead of slandering their opponent, which is every single ad I’ve seen on TV.”
Compared to Finland, Pihlajamaki said the U.S. presidential election is centered on the candidates’ ideologies rather than their past achievements.
“It’s a lot more show going on and it’s a lot more about image,” Pihlajamaki said.
Philajamaki said he doesn’t have a strong preference for either candidate, but would side with Obama if he had to choose, adding that Obama is popular at home.
However Thomas said she does not feel that either candidate is a particularly good choice.
“I feel like either candidate won’t be able to do much to fix the issues that have been brought up, like the economy and foreign policy,” she said.
While Thomas doesn’t support a particular candidate either, ideologically she favors McCain because of his free market policies.
“My society is very controlled (and) coming from that, I feel openness is important and working for what you get,” she said.
Thomas said that many of her friends support Obama because they think he presents a better face for America in foreign policy.
Unlike the other international students, Van Hove has a clear favorite.
“I support Barack Obama, but I can’t vote because I’m not a citizen,” he said. “My parents support Barack Obama. They can’t vote either, though.”
But regardless of who emerges victorious, international students and their fellow citizens overseas will be excited to see a new administration in power.
“I know that people really want Bush out of power back home,” Van Hove said.