Last week was a rough one for a number of us. Many people have concerns about what the next four years will hold. There have been increased reports of violence and acts of bigotry across the country. In our own progressive enclave in North Carolina (not an oxymoron), a Latina woman who was walking her kids to school was followed by a pick up truck whose occupants were taunting them that they would soon be deported. There are also concerns for our LGBT community and what the new political climate means for their rights and their safety following the election. Of course, there are broader concerns as well about how this election will affect our country. These concerns were evidenced by the crash of the Canadian immigration site as the election results came in on Tuesday.
While logistically it is hard for many of us who are saddled with jobs, families, and homes to pick up and move to another country, college bound students have the choice to leave the country for the next few year to study overseas. Many of you have told us that the election results have been the deciding factor when considering whether to pursue college in the US or Europe. Certainly, the map of how millennials voted indicates that this is not the direction the younger generation favors.
The benefits to studying in Europe are huge, even without considering the political climate here. We’ve talked about the incredibly affordable tuition and transparent admissions processes, as those are quite obvious benefits. Another benefit to note is the exposure students gain to people who are different from them. In this spread out country, many of us who don’t live in urban areas are often surrounded by people who are similar to us in appearance, background and beliefs. My son’s history teacher used the election as an opportunity to teach the class about echo chambers. Particularly on social media, we see a lot of our own opinions reflected by others and often “unfriend” or at least “mute” those who have conflicting views. As a result, we tend to think our own perspectives are more dominant and accepted than they are in reality.
I know that there are large numbers of people who voted differently than I did who are not inherently “bad people” and had some other reason for their vote than to support bigotry and chauvinism. I’m guilty of not truly understanding their plight. I’m also guilty of not understanding the impacts of the refugee situation or the experience of the refugees themselves. I don’t know what it’s like to be “randomly” chosen for a search at the airport due to the color of my skin or last name. While we don’t have to experience these things first hand, interacting with people who have different experiences and different view points helps us have a much broader and more accurate world view.
When Americans go to college in Europe they are introduced to people of all different backgrounds. College education in Europe is for everyone, not primarily for the wealthy or elite, and the English conducted programs draw students from around the globe. What better way to understand the effects the death of the president of Thailand than to learn about it from your Thai classmate? By gaining this world view, college students can come back to the US and advocate for change where it is needed. Their experience as global citizens will help inform the dialog going forward. They can help put us back on the right track in much more meaningful ways than if they continue to live where they have always lived surrounded by others just like them. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we all have this option!
Are You New Here?
Not surprisingly, we have had a huge number of new members and newsletter subscribers over the last week. I thought it might be helpful to point out where to find information and to announce some upcoming news from Beyond the States.
Each month we hold a webinar with a live Q&A at the end. In these webinars, we dive into a specific topic such as the admissions process or what majors are available in Europe. You can sign up for upcoming webinars and access our past webinars and information sessions here.
Our BTS in the News Page has all the recent articles about going to college in Europe, along with media coverage of Beyond the States.
This is a pretty important one-people often ask me if it is too early or too late to explore the option of college in Europe. The answer is “neither”. This piece discussed how BTS can help at different stages in the process.
We are still working out the best way to search our blog. You can go through the categories or type in search terms in the sidebar. Type “Firsthand” in the search box to pull up the blogs related to college visits.