Living Abroad or Living in My Head
Without a doubt, the most substantial part of my first 40 days here in Dublin has been the amount of self-reflection I’ve done after talking to people from all over the world. Through pop culture, economic influence, and politics, the United States is consistently on the radar of many people across the globe. This led me to be extremely aware of what is going on in the US and felt a strong need to educate myself more. If I am not educated, I’ll feel like an idiot talking to a friend who is from a DIFFERENT country and knows more than I do about my own. Often times when I say I am from America, people will bring up current events such as the Trump Tariffs, Kavanaugh Hearings, and more. They want to hear my viewpoint as I am from there and can give an insider’s perspective of what is going on. This encourages me continue to reflect on who I am and why I believe what I do.
Political and economic issues are no longer topics that can just be pushed under the rug. I’m in a cohort of 100 students and I’m the only American. In the past, I wouldn’t have been one of the first people to chime in on a class discussion, but now it almost feels like my civic duty. Often times we talk about American companies and I always try to add value, if possible, to show my perspective on the topic. My viewpoint matters and impacts their perception on America. I take this with pride and will continue to discuss the implications of America on a global level.
Honestly, I’m used to having conversations with friends in the states about whether LeBron or MJ is the G.O.A.T. or whatever sports game was on the night before. When I reflect on my “culture,” the more I realize much of it comes from sports and mostly American sports. I think of spending entire Saturday’s in the fall tailgating for football games, watching the NBA or NHL in the winter, golfing with friends in the spring, spitting seeds and drinking beer at baseball games in the summer and so much more. With sports being so constant, they are also extremely constant in the conversations with people that I’ve been surrounded by in the past. I wouldn’t have realized the magnitude of it, if I hadn’t left. So American friends, text me about the MLB playoffs or football games going on - it is a nice sense of home.
Research has shown that living abroad improves one’s “self-concept clarity,” to which an individual's beliefs about themselves are clearly and confidently defined, consistent and stable over time. My hope is through my continued experiences and self-reflection abroad, this will be the case for myself as well. I’m grateful for this experience and the challenges and opportunities that come along with it.