Switzerland: Winter has arrived…

The first snowfall in Fribourg has officially come and gone… It was magical to wake up and see the landscape lightly dusted with the powdery white substance. Coming from Oxford, I was quite surprised to see snow in the beginning of November; usually that is when we see the peak of fall and the perfectly mild weather that is so cherished in the south. My roommates, who come from Germany and Belgium, were chuckling at my excitement as they went about their morning activities as if nothing was new.

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A view from my bedroom window

On another note, two days ago the results for the U.S. Presidential election were announced. Though it took a bit of effort, I managed to receive and submit my absentee ballot so that I could have a say in this monumental election. Curious about how the polls were fairing, I barely slept a wink and woke up at 6 AM in order to see the results. Not all of the states had finished tallying their votes, but Donald Trump seemed to have a clear lead. That lead was not lost and low-and-behold, he will be the 45th President of the United States of America. After hearing the results, the whole world seemed shocked.

It has been so strange to be observing this election from outside of the United States. Without a television at my disposal, my primary means of keeping up with the news has been my computer and local newspapers. It’s so interesting to see how the election is perceived here in Switzerland. Granted, Switzerland is a neutral country at heart; therefore, it didn’t have too much at stake. However, most of the media appeared to favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump before the election. Yesterday, the newspaper had a nine-page spread about the results entitled “Le choix risqué de l’Amerique.” Being abroad during this monumental election has made me realize how important the USA is in terms of international affairs. It has also made me start to think about how American politics affects the entire world and not just American citizens. America is a world-player and our domestic elections ultimately affect the entire globe. Many of my friends have asked me, “How did this happen?” or “What are your thoughts?”A proper answer is hardly brief. I tend to begin by explaining the electoral college and the fact that each candidate needed a certain number of votes. And then the conversation tends to lead to a discussion on the current political trend of populism, which we first saw with Brexit and now with the win of Donald Trump. As Alexander Betts explained in his TED Talk on “Why Brexit Happened,” there were people who weren’t satisfied with the current economy, who weren’t satisfied with the political environment, and who ultimately wanted change. The exact same thing can be said for the U.S. presidential election.

With that in mind, it is important that we as Americans become involved in politics, uphold our civic duties, and continue to become more engaged citizens. Especially now, we need to remember that we are all working to uphold common values of freedom, liberty, and equality. We MUST work together and talk with one another; conversation and understanding are the only ways to move forward. Above all, we must continue to have hope in our “one nation, under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for all.”

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