Two weeks in Trump’s America


Pier 39 – San Francisco

Dario, a native Brazilian, was the first person I met when I landed in the United States two weeks ago. “I have been learning English for 1 month and been living in America for 4 months” he told me, as he drove me from SFO airport, through Oakland and up to Berkeley, where I will be studying for the next 6 months. We exchanged some broken English and I learnt about his 15-year-old son who recently enrolled in High School.

The second friendly face I met was my house mate, Manisha, Indian born, she emigrated with her family here 20 years ago. After graduating a year early from college she is now working hard at a San Francisco start-up. I often hear her on the phone to her parents switching between English and her native language with ease.

Ali, a local coffee shop owner, welcomed me with a beaming smile and a handshake when I bought a coffee before my first class on the following Monday. “I don’t know what is happening with Mr Trump, it’s concerning” he said, as he asked me about my studies, Brexit and told me I was always welcome in his café.

In the introduction meetings for other visiting student researchers I met people from all over the globe, Iran, Turkey, Germany, the Philippines and the Netherlands – to name just a few. We conversed in speculation about what Trump will do in his presidency, but felt assured that as we had arrived before the inauguration, we had lucked out.

I watched the inauguration on my first Friday in the US, I winced at Trump’s hypocritical message and wondered how long it took his speech writer to plagiarise lines from Avatar, Bane and Bee Movie. But I still held onto some level of optimism that he wouldn’t be able to do anything that disastrous – at least not right away.

I had always planned on attending the San Francisco Women’s March on the Saturday. Not necessarily to join in with the chants and voice my grievances, but I could tell it was going to be historic and I wanted to be a part of it.

The 15-minute queue just to get out of the Bart station confirmed my suspicions and by 5.30pm I was marching down the road, in the pouring rain, with 100,000 women, men and children. The various signs demonstrated the diverse reasons why people were there; reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, equal pay, immigrants’ rights.

Women's march San Francisco 21/1/2017

Women’s march San Francisco 21/1/2017

With over 2 million people marching in the US alone, I don’t think anyone went to sleep that night without feeling emboldened that there was a strong force against what Trump stood for and planned to initiate.

Yet, that feeling of optimism and unity took a knock the following Monday, when Trump signed an executive order to block federal funds being used to “provide or promote abortions”.

The five days following that first executive order have been tumultuous. Protests have taken place nearly every day, particularly in neighbouring Oakland, and everyone you speak to has no idea what’s coming next.

When the news broke on Friday that Trump’s latest executive order, banning all refugees for 120 days and immigrants from 7 Muslim majority countries for 90 days, had come into effect my mind immediately turned to the people I met when I first arrived.

Though they are all citizens, Trumps actions are surely enough to make any non-Anglo-Saxon feel unwelcome or uneasy.

America is a nation of immigrants and the often used term “melting pot” couldn’t be more accurate. According to Pew research, today 14% of Americans are foreign born, compared to 5% in 1965, in the last 50 years 59 million immigrants have arrived here and by 2055 the US will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.

When you’re in a country surrounded by people from all ethnicities, nationalities and creeds, it boggles the mind to see what Trump is doing. Despite his election win suggesting the majority of Americans would agree on his immigration stance, 57% say “having an increasing number of people of many different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes the United States a better place to live”.

On Saturday I received an emergency email from UC Berkeley’s International Office. “For the near future, Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration’s policies on visas and U.S. entry.” Signalling this could only be the beginning of what’s to come.

Over drinks with some fellow international students we discussed the email and what the next six months could have instore for us as visiting immigrants. One student from Turkey said, “At least he’s honest. At least we know what his game is.”

As a journalism student I can’t help but feel a pang of excitement for what I am witnessing and the opportunities before me. But as a human being, I am also scared and anxious for those who have already begun to feel the effects Trump’s Presidency.


Student Experience: Why YOU Should Study Abroad

Fancy a Study Abroad year? Do it. It won’t let you down.

Having recently returned from 8 months of copiously drinking Tim Hortons coffee and Canadian beer at Carleton University, Ottawa, I have come back (forgive the cheese) as a more developed, mature and confident version of myself. Don’t get me wrong, whilst being abroad I have never been more challenged in my life, however my experience away is one I would happily do over and over again.

Studying abroad brings a series of benefits stretching from the more serious advantage of academic enrichment, to the more trivial of a cooler reputation on Instagram (when in doubt use X-Pro II). However, what I intend to convey is that for me my study abroad experience has definitely taught me a series of invaluable life lessons that I never would have discovered had I stayed in our small university town of Lancaster.

emily 9

One of the most important benefits of studying in a foreign land is the vast variety of people you meet from all over the world. Not only do you exchange interesting stories and gain insight into each other’s lives, your social calendar explodes from weekend city breaks, to an invite to a house party two hours before. Saying ‘no’ to gatherings is out of the question (though I admit I did cave in a few times!) and so often it feels like your life runs at 100 miles an hour – quite literally if you want to get to that off-licence in time before it shuts ridiculously early on a Friday night. However, the international networks you create whilst being away are incredible and to be honest it feels pretty damn cool having the majority of your Facebook friends coming from all over the world. emily 6

Another perk of studying abroad is just how bloody good you become at time management! If you want to get that bus to Toronto on time, you need to get your studies squared away and often the impossible becomes the possible when it comes to hitting those deadlines. Essay in a day? No problem.

A further side effect of studying abroad is the incessant pining for wanting to travel again upon your return home. The travel bug hits you good and proper after being away and its only antibiotic is to plan and look forward to the next future adventure (as it so happens the dust hadn’t even settled on my passport and I went off interrailing for a month around Eastern Europe with one of my best friends). I have learnt that the world really is out there patiently waiting for us to explore it, and what a better time to do so as young emily 2adults before the real world of careers, families and mortgage payments hit us. I once heard at a gathering a fellow partygoer say ‘the world is our oyster’ and my word I now understand that it really, really is.

With this in mind, another thing I have greatly understood through my study abroad experiences is how important travelling and experiencing the world actually is. As our globe’s borders become ever more porous and the dividing lines we see on a map become less and less definite, experiencing one, two, or multiple cultures different to our own provides us with a deeper understanding of the world’s populace. The news we read, watch and listen is increasingly of a more globalized content, with stories originating from the four corners of the world brought to our home tabloids and affecting us in a way they never would have years ago. The knowledge gained from travel is indeed not a privilege but a requirement for future generations. emily 4

And so I hope this article has achieved my aim of getting you all to up sticks and study or work abroad for a period of time at some point in your lives. Considering this is coming from a person who owns varying shades of lipstick and who would never walk out the door without layers of mascara on my lashes, since being home I’ve ditched the red lippy for a travel guide, invested in a rucksack and find myself surfing the latest flight deals.

And so I reiterate. Study abroad – it won’t let you down.

By Emily Tarbuck




[Image Credit: Tim Shields]