In the time I have been in Australia (approx 7 weeks) there have been:images

  • two nationally-newsworthy shootings
  • the Syria debate
  • a government shutdown

From within the Sydney program, news spreads rumor-like by word-of-mouth. There’s a different kind of need to talk about it, a responsibility to share information with your peers when you’re together in another country, that would seem kind of politically douche-y and in your face when at home.

When catching up on the news abroad, for some reason, everything just seems more violent. Maybe things just are more violent, or maybe its just because large news-worthy items are shootings and lockdowns, or maybe its just me growing up, but I can’t help but feel like the world is becoming a more violent place. It’s a fairly scary thing to turn on the Australian news casually and find that there is potential for your country to be involved in someone’s civil war, in a new violence, when you are far from your loved ones.

There’s also a sense of disdain (a natural one, I would say) that you can feel for US politics from a healthy distance. A little “thank god I’m not there” thought. Especially with something like, oh, a government shutdown. When you’re in it and its your life (arguably, its not right now… arguably) there is disdain tempered with acceptance. From afar, and with the commentary of international critics, there is disdain tempered with overwhelming annoyance (c’mon, Australia is practically the most peaceful, unassuming country with a very centric-minded government). There are the usual jokes of just never coming back.

I’m also struck by the numbers in those international critics. I have always known that the US was the world super power and of course believed it. But not seen it. People really really do care about the US, our politics and culture. And for good reason of course, because the actions of the US really do effect the entire world. Call me ridiculous, but I never had really processed before what that had meant. That’s some kind of pressure.

Its also some kind of responsibility.

More to come soon,

Ella

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