exploring Spain and Portugal

Looking in From the Outside

Looking in From the Outside

By Jessie Spangler

Before taking this class abroad, I’ve never been to Europe. It was interesting to see the U.S. from a different perspective – it seems like compared to all of these much more mature and older countries, the U.S. is a stubborn and somewhat ignorant teenager.

Walking through cities such as Lisbon, Seville and Madrid, you can see the history that lies in the winding, narrow streets and in the multicolored houses. In the U.S., everything seems so much newer, and more uniform in design. In the suburbs, most houses share a similar layout. There are no rainbow houses, and streets are wide and and mostly the same. In cities, the tallest buildings are modern skyscrapers, not castle towers.

The U.S. is a young country. It’s still trying to find its place in the world, and something tells me it’s not the most powerful. We just don’t have the experience that all of these other countries have, the ones that have been fighting wars way before the U.S. was born.

The U.S. seems to jump into conflict whenever it presents itself, and why? So many Americans seem to have this concept of hey, our country is the greatest and whoever doesn’t live in it must be dealing with some sort of misfortune. The White Savior complex is abundant in the U.S., and countries in Europe seem to almost scoff or laugh at the U.S. Like, here comes that angry teenager we’re always trying to get to relax.

Not saying that all of Europe is perfect – they have their own problems. For example, keeping the ugly history of Spain’s global role in the slave trade mostly under wraps – probably not something they should try to keep hidden. And the idolization of Christopher Columbus, which I could (and probably will) write a whole other post about why that’s just incredibly misled.

All countries have a dark part of their history – that’s something the U.S. is no stranger to. But we don’t have that collective experience that other countries have just from existing for so long, and all of the major conflicts they’ve had to endure, even before these countries were known as we know them now. We’re still a kid, in the grand scheme of things, and we’re currently going through a political/social upheaval. There’s some serious change being generated in the U.S., which is a good thing – the bloody part of it is not, however. Issues, such as gun control, is something many other developed countries have managed to figure out, and the U.S., for some reason, can’t get a hold on it.

Seeing how we come across in the international sense is definitely intriguing. The questions we get as Americans (“what do you think of Trump?”) and the reactions we get are very telling as to what are position is around the world. The U.S. doesn’t always get a positive reaction internationally, but that just means we need to continue to grow up.

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