We've had a little over a week now to digest the reality of the situation. Donald Trump is the new president-elect of the United States of America. I thought it might get a little easier to say with each passing day, but so far it has not.
Living abroad does not mean that we are completely removed from the situation, in fact, I think we are just as involved in it, just in different ways. I've heard the comments, "You've escaped. You're lucky you don't have to be in the country while Trump is president." Well, no, in truth I do not have to live in the US while Trump is president, but that doesn't change the fact that it affects me.
I love my country. I want the best for it, and in my opinion, Trump is possibly one of the worst options for the United States. Just because I do not live there does not mean I am not heartbroken. In fact, I'm more than heartbroken, I'm also embarrassed.
Living abroad also means the constant questions from non-US citizens. It is hard to answer diplomatically on behalf of my country, because really that's what we all have to do. I believe that no matter where you are from or live, you are, in essence, a representative of your home country and I try to represent my home country to the best of my ability. That means that when people ask, "What is wrong with the US? How could your country elect a man like Trump?" (which they do ask. Like every single freaking day.) I struggle to answer. I generally say something like, "I can't really answer that because the US citizens that I know who I personally surround myself with are liberal, open-minded people that believe in equal rights, respect, and opportunities regardless of a person's race, sexual orientation, gender, or beliefs."
That is the truth, and something I believe is true for most expats. If you are living abroad you are more likely to have a greater world view than some people living in the US that may have never actually left the United States. With a greater world view comes a deeper realization of how bad a Trump presidency is, not just for the US but actually the entire world.
Trumps presidency also means concerns for all of us living abroad with partners from another country. My boyfriend is German and I always thought we would move back to the US at some point, at least for a few years. Now those plans are most likely on hold for the next four years. First of all, I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to move to the US while Trump is president (and I don't blame him) and second, it remains to be seen what the future requirements will be for foreigners attempting to get US visas.
Time will tell, but I also worry about an increase in hate crimes targeting US citizens. I've experienced a hate crime due to my citizenship before, and it shook me. I was told, "Your country killed my family and we will kill yours one day." Despite that scary situation, I've never second guessed telling people where I'm from. I know many US expats who now just tell people they are from Canada. I don't agree with this.
We need to go on being great representatives of our country to give the world a better understanding that US citizens are, almost entirely, really wonderful people. Fear and embarrassment can't define us now.