Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Edition!

For those who know me well, I'm a huge political junkie. It's comparable to those who get super into fantasy football. It's an obsession that largely formed when I was younger. A lover of JFK biographies, the Cuban Missile Crisis, history books, and MSNBC made me who I am today as well as influence my intended career path. Thus, yesterday, November 6th, 2012, was a holiday to me. Second favorite day of the year- my birthday also known as St. Patrick's Day- still wins.

I registered to vote before I turned 18 in 2008, so I would be all set to focus my attention on the 2008 election. First year of voting! I remember the election very well. It was my first semester at Syracuse, and I remember camped out in the lounge on my floor in the residence hall. A bunch of us-"the six"- grabbed takeout from the dining hall and crowded around a television to watch the results together. Once the election was called for Obama, Ashlie, Jordan, and I ran to the quad to celebrate with other members of the Syracuse University community. Insane, joyous, and memorable are just a few of the words I would use to describe that post midnight celebration that night.

When I was abroad in 2010, it came to vote in the midterm elections. Sending in an absentee ballot, just as I had in 2008 and 2009 (local elections), it was weird not at least being in the United States to send in an absentee ballot. Yes, I still got to vote, but I was traveling during the election. There was hardly a time to sit down and read results outside those I actually chose to concentrate my thesis on.

And, yes, before we begin, 2011 was an absentee ballot again.

This year, living abroad for a presidential election was entirely different than that of 2010. Of course, the world views a presidential election in the US slightly higher than a local/state election and even a senator election that was held in 2010.  For the past several weeks, I've been stopped by non-Americans in and out of my program asking me if I voted and for whom. They wanted to make sure that I expressed my right to vote- something that many countries still do not have the right to do so. Don't worry, my ballot got there. Trust me.

Being five hours ahead of the EST coast was hard. I stayed up till 5am yesterday, and woke back up at 7am to find out Obama had officially been declared a winner. Sometimes sleep and time differences to trump my love of politics. Nevertheless, the emotions that I felt being here yesterday were and were not comparable to what I felt in 2008. Of course, I was thrilled that my choice for President won (re-elected), but even celebrating with some Americans through the evening with the early closing states, it was different. We tried to create an atmosphere that felt like "home." The LSE party was held in too small of a space, and so, we crowded into a lounge with others in a dorm room. Explaining the electoral college- or trying to explain the electoral college to non-Americans was my favorite part of the evening.

Going back to my point about it being different was that it was different in a good way. Thanks to technology, I kept live updates from Twitter. I watched Mike Allen on my computer at 4am. And this morning, I woke up to iMessages, tweets, and Facebook updates from friends and family members. Being connected helped me feel as if I was at a huge rally on the quad or an election party. Being abroad doesn't take the feeling away of being part of democracy. Sure, it would have been nice to have a Bud Light, a hot dog, and a slice of apple pie to watch the returns, but that is the point of choosing a grad school abroad. I wanted to experience different things- gain different perspectives. Yesterday, I did. I can honestly say that 2012 will not be forgotten. 

Furthermore, this morning as I left to run to finish homework, I heard so many British people discussing the results on the bus, the tube, and even in Starbucks.  They were happy with the result. Of course, the newspapers that I saw this morning had been printed before Obama had been reelected. That means I need to grab one tomorrow to supplement my 2008 election and 2009 copies.

And, yes, I wore my donkey pin proudly.