This election cycle might have consumed the attention of most Americans over the last year, but for the approximately one fifth of NYU students who did not grow up in the United States, watching this election has been an interesting — if somewhat unusual — introduction to the intricacies of American politics.
Although LS sophomore Mason Song followed American politics before leaving China, he was still surprised by how much the election consumed his day-to-day life once he got to the United States.
“Normally I would not care about not being able to vote in this election,” Song said. “But watching how has Trump bullied his way into being the Republican nominee is like watching an American slowly drowning but not being able to save him or her.”
Though many Americans might consider this year’s election to be the wildest they have ever seen, quite a few international students were not phased by it. CAS freshman Karsha Bhartia, who is an international student from India, was surprised to learn how much Trump’s behavior perturbed her classmates.
”I think Trump is an attention-seeking bully, but at home, things are really wild,” Bhartia said. “Indian elections are really something else. This election isn’t scaring me.”
Many of the international students like Song who payed close attention to the events of the campaigns think about them in terms of how it would affect their home countries. CAS sophomore Petra Szepesi, who grew up in Hungary, says she doesn’t know whom she would vote for if she was an American citizen.
“I know that Clinton has criticized Hungary previously and has made some negative comments regarding our policies,” Szepesi said. “That could possibly impact the foreign affairs between Hungary and the U.S. Honestly, I have no idea who I’d vote for, so I guess [the] pressure [is] off of me.”
Bhartia isn’t sure how a Trump presidency will affect the United States’ relationship with India, saying that the United States and India have strong relations as it stands.
She added that she is unaccustomed to how Americans make voting choices based on how the candidates will affect them personally.
“Indian politics are different than American politics in that they are more about economic issues than social ones,” Bhartia said. “Whatever happens would affect me a lot less than it will affect others.”
Song also pointed out that Americans’ strong sense of idealism could be to blame for the unusual nastiness of both Clinton and Trump’s campaigns.
“This is a vital moment in U.S. democracy as personal fear and hatred seem to gain prominence over rationality,” Song said. “The U.S. has to find its way back to rationality, and it has to find a balance between political correctness and free speech.”
A version of this article appeared in the WSN 2016 Election Issue. Email Taylor Nicole Rogers at [email protected]