For the almost three months I have been abroad, the U.S. election has managed to squeeze itself into every conversation I’ve had with students from all over the world.
Each discussion, regardless of the person’s country of origin, shared a common denominator of a distrust toward Donald Trump.
Last week, what most people thought was unthinkable happened – Trump became the 45th president of the United States of America.
As I laid down on the eve of election day, almost 6,000 miles away from home, I was almost positive that I would wake up to the news that Hillary Clinton had become the first female president.
However when I woke up, Trump had a substantial lead on his opponent. For a second, I thought I was dreaming. I just couldn’t understand how almost half of America, founded on supposed equality and freedom, had elected a xenophobic, sexist and racist man to represent our country.
I was in denial and in the first stage of grieving.
I arrived to my first class, which I share with other Cal State University students, and could feel the sadness penetrate the room. Tears were shed and fear of the unknown creeped into many of our futures.
The rest of day felt like a funeral.
I just wasn’t sure how to be proud of my country when other students from around the world were offering their condolences to my classmates and I. With a shake of their head, they would say, ”I’m sorry. How did this happen?” It was almost as if they were consoling us for our grief and loss of hope, equality and freedom.
I began to wonder if the country would come together and stand up for what they believe in.
A part of me felt selfish. I was enjoying life in Spain while others in the United States began to worry if some of their basic rights were going to be taken away, if they would be targets of hate crimes and what exactly a Trump presidency would to do the future of our country.
However, seeing the country come together and march peacefully while exercising their first amendment right gave me hope.
I don’t know what to expect when I return to the U.S. in June. Only time will tell. But right now, only hope gets me through the days. Hope that the 892 hate groups operating in the U.S. will fade away, the 190 Ku Klux Klan groups will disappear and the 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents from 2014 to 2015 will begin to decrease.
I can only hope to come home to a unified country that I can be proud of.