What I learned on my first EuroTrip
The rest of of the world wants America to win and do good for the world.
I travelled to Europe recently and while I was sitting in an American expat bar in Lisbon I watched the future of the world change forever. Standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other Americans, we saw our home country and fellow compatriots vote Donald Trump into office as the 45th President of the United States. With the inauguration ceremony still to come, America has already reshaped what the rest of the world thinks about the possibility of a global economy, global citizenship, and an open society that accepts everyone.
I immediately became a walking target as I travelled throughout Lisbon, Madrid, and Paris. People could smell the stench of the new United States on me — as well as seeing my A’s baseball cap.
The airport attendants told me “goodluck in America!” while boarding my flight. My taxi driver asked me “what will this new America be like and do you feel safe going back home?” There was a moment the world started spinning a little bit differently for me. I had met a lady and her daughter at a thai restaurant in Paris. They were speaking French and English together, so I introduced myself. The daughter was applying for an internship with the American Civil Liberties Union, usually known as ACLU. Mind you, she was a French citizen and a Paris native. I had asked why she wanted to come to America, as an outsider, to work for the American Civil Liberties Union? In a country that she’s never visited, never seen, and only has relatives that sometimes tells her what it is like to live in middle America. Her response:
How can I watch what’s happening in America, a country that molds and shapes what happens in the rest of the world, and not want to help them do better? How can I goto sleep at night at not be concerned about my relatives, who are French nationals, and their safety while they live in America? How can I watch this so-called great nation vote into office one of the most controversial figures in modern-day American history and not be compelled to fight against a system that’s crumbling right before my eyes?
As her and her mother were leaving the restaurant, the mother said something that I’ll never forget:
I hope that you have a safe flight back home and that you can goto sleep at night with peace on your heart. I can only pray that you, as well as the rest of America, choose to do more good for the world. We are all counting on you. Au Revoir!
There’s something eerily inspiring about a complete stranger telling you that they’re counting on you to do better. Counting on you, as well as the rest of your country, to fight for the rest of the world and do more good for us all. It was a reminder of the privilege that I have to live in America. The decisions we make in America, from the polls to the protests, affect the rest of the world in ways we can’t even imagine.
No matter how you voted in the general election — you’ll will be apart of the fight to keep America, America. What that actually means will be completely up to you and the actions you take to make change.
Other things that I learned in Europe were:
- Walk slower and take in the history.
- Carry cash and coins (euro)
- Only wear comfortable shoes — there is literally cobblestone everywhere.
- Learn the local language — it will take you further and give you the ability to bargain.
- Realize that you are not in your home country. Yes, you are an outsider.
- Never open your wallet in public.
- Pickpocketers are literally everywhere — everywhere.