America’s influence on the world

As my time in Australia comes to an end I can’t help but stop and reflect on my experience as a whole. One thing that has been an underlying issue the whole time that we have been here is the way that people who are non-Americans view and treat people who are Americans. Most of the time, when Australians or people of any nationality living in Australia hear our accent they will automatically ask where we are from. When we reply “America” we will usually get one of two reactions. The more popular reaction is a positive one. They will firstly tell us about their ties to America. For example, they will tell us where they have been in America (usually somewhere in California) or if they have family in America. The second question will usually be “how do you like Australia?” to which we always respond positively. Lastly, the conversation will end in some sort of upbeat comment on how much they like America or Americans in general.

The second reaction to the news that we are American, although rare, in a slightly negative one. I have heard comments ranging from, “I hate George Bush.” To “Oh… well I don’t like you yanks. You’re all loud, pushy and rude.” On one particularly offensive occasion, all of the Drury girls were having ice cream on the south bank of Melbourne city when two men walked by our group and squired their water bottle in our direction completely soaking Ashley Gilchrist and me. Although at that very moment I was enraged and personally felt completely offended, as I look back on the situation, I can’t be that upset with those men. They most likely did not have positive feelings toward America and obviously heard our accent, figured that we were American and took action. They didn’t dislike us as human beings but what we stood for.

It may not be very apparent in our little town of Springfield, Mo., but our country has a huge influence on the rest of the world. All of the major news channels that are broadcasted in Australia are American. All of the reality television shows in Australia are just knock offs of American reality television shows. Most of the songs that are played on the radio in Australia are by American artists. Many American made products are imported to Australia. In our Finance class, the “Americans” are always asked what our views are on the topics that are discussed. And we are always meeting new people that have an arsenal of questions to prod us with about our country.

While most Australians and people who reside in Australia embrace the fact that America has such a huge influence on their everyday lives, some cannot stand it. Because of this, when people find out that I am an American, all of their negative feelings about my country come rushing out and are forced upon me. I may even agree with some of the things that they do not like about my country but these closed minded people do not see me as a person, they just see me as a representative of a country and all that that country stands for.

At first I was hurt and offended by these people but over the time I have been here I have begun to understand. Not everyone is going like America and it is not my job to try and change that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. All I can do is remember how I felt when someone attacked me for the country that I represented and not the person that I was. And I hope that this article will open some people’s eyes to the fact that we can’t always judge a book by its cover. We have to ignore the cover, open it up and take a read to be able to figure what it’s all about.

**Laura Garland is a junior studying abroad at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

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