Let’s face it– the 2016 US Presidential election raised a lot of questions about American values by citizens and foreigners alike. This charged political climate has made the current time an especially interesting one to study abroad, and one certainly full of questions.
At least one time a day, I get asked what I think of President Trump– at work, on the bus, at the grocery store. This persistent political questioning demonstrates one huge difference between people in America and people in Ireland. The people in Ireland really have no shame or boundaries. They will ask you very personal details, beliefs, etc. and not bat an eye at it whereas in America, these topics seem to be hush hush.
And I kind of refuse to answer the Trump question because I think that the Irish opinions on the matter are much more interesting than my own. So every time I get asked about him, I turn the question right back to them. Spoiler alert: he isn’t popular or well-liked among the Irish.
Hearing so many people answer that question over my few weeks here has taught me a lot about how Americans are viewed by the Irish. Typically, I would say that Americans come off as aloof, austere, and perhaps a bit cold-hearted. And according to the answers I’ve been given about the Trump question, the past election has only solidified those perceptions. The Irish are much more open than Americans, much friendlier, and definitely much more willing to take a joke.
I think we could all take a life lesson from the Irish here and learn to be more welcoming and not take ourselves so seriously. After all, a lot of the backlash against Trump’s personality revolves around how self-centered he is. Personally, I’ve tried to adopt this Irish way and be a bit more relaxed in my day to day living, especially at work. It’s okay to mess up and laugh at yourself when you do. It’s okay to have questions that don’t have answers. And it’s okay to admit that you aren’t perfect. After all, none of us are.
No matter where we are from, we all want the same basic things– love, happiness, security. So thank you, President Trump, for inadvertently (and perhaps ironically) teaching me that we aren’t so different after all.