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Schooled by a Foreigner

“Oh, you’re from America? We love Obama too! High five!”

This is a variation of the common phrases I heard in Europe during my study abroad semester in the Netherlands. Once people found out I am American, all they wanted to do was talk about Obama and health care and the war in Iraq. I usually left the high five hanging with a confused rebuttal of why I didn’t want to necessarily be identified as an Obamerican.

Shocked at how much they knew about my country, I usually left embarrassed that Europeans know more about America than me. They asked so many questions I couldn’t answer and told me things about my homeland that was news to me.  “How do you not know?!” they questioned as I struggled my way through political and economic conversations.

How did I not know? Why didn’t I care?

As a result of this frustration, this semester I decided to take an International Relations class to become a better informed American. I’m finally starting to see the importance of understanding my own country and the current events that are shaping our ever-changing world (culture, society, etc.) I decided it was time to take my political biases and find the facts to back them up.

As citizens (or even current residents), it is our responsibility to know what is going on around us.  So I challenge you: Today instead of flicking on MTV or CMT, try FOXNews or CNN -and if you really want to know the truth, search beyond these places as well. That way, this year when you go to the polls, you can competently vote on your own and also be prepared to have an educated conversation with someone about this place you call home.

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