Watching events from abroad

Have you ever been abroad during a significant moment in your home country’s history? I was living abroad at the time of the last US elections and, I have to admit, it was hard to be away from America at such a significant time. Sure, I was having a sit-in, glued to the news channel, with my friends in Europe much the same as I would have been doing with my American friends were I in America. But I still felt this strange anxious uselessness at having to watch an event of that magnitude from afar. Not only was I glued to the news, I was skyping and IM with friends, reading the news online, and texting my family with my free hand. It was frustrating, and I never quite felt like I was informed enough or close enough to the action.

I experienced the reversal of this over the last week here in Korea. When North Korean artillery hit a South Korean island off of the country’s Western coast earlier this week, I was surprised at the endless flood of phone calls and emails pouring in from friends and loved ones. I understood their loving concern, but I was surprised at the caliber of their inquiry. They hit me with a barrage of endless questions, each one more specific yet seemingly further off of the topic. I felt that they would only be satisfied if I could hang a live action camera over the whole of Seoul. However, it reminded me of myself 2 years as I anxiously took in the US elections.

Have you ever been abroad during an important moment for your country or experienced a significant moment while traveling or living abroad in another country?

Posted by | Comments (3)  | November 29, 2010
Category: On The Road, Working Abroad

3 Responses to “Watching events from abroad”

  1. Roger Says:

    I was living in London during the Gulf War in 1991. Everything went fairly smoothly with that war, and as short as it was, I noticed how much the British public was relieved that it was over. They’d been hoping for a short duration. Then, I was also there for the 1992 US Election, when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. It all looked fairly smooth from over there, apart from the controversial Ross Perot, and the public generally liked Clinton, and accepted him.

  2. BethAnne Says:

    I had been an exchange student in Austria for a few weeks when September 11th happened. I definitely didn’t grasp the full extent of it at first, but it was nice to see the outpouring of support for the US from around Europe in the wake of it [and painful to see that support decline as we responded with war]. Then when I came back home the next summer, I expected my parents, who hadn’t seen me for a year, to be waiting at the gate. When they weren’t, I was upset that they were late…until I got to the baggage claim, where they were waiting. While I was gone, they had stopped allowing people to pick up passengers from the gates.

    I was in Germany for the 2008 elections and was worried about McCain winning – not just because of personal politics, but also because I knew that everyone I met in my host country soon after that would just shake their heads at me in a “Why won’t you people learn?!?” kind of way. The night of the election, I just went to bed at a reasonable time because I thought it wouldn’t be called for sure until really late, like the past few elections – but then I woke up to find out that they had called it not long after I had gone to sleep. I could’ve celebrated! For the inauguration, I was traveling to Portugal eeeeeearly the next morning, so I watched it on the BBC website at my apartment and was moved to tears a few times – definitely helped me get through the hellish journey [Frankfurt Hahn moves me to tears for different reasons!] a few hours later.

  3. Steve Says:

    Where to start, I was living in the USA during 911 and the start of the wars, and saw things from a very different perspective to family and friends in Australia. Listening to a normally quiet baseball crowd in Seattle singing the National Anthem and God Bless America, I told a friend that the attackers did not understand what they had unleashed. I was also heading to New York the day the Airbus crashed into Queens.
    We were in Europe when the underground attack occurred and arrived in London a week after the attack and left the day before the second failed attack.
    Just to prove disaster is not my bedfellow, I also witnessed Gordon Brown arriving at Number 10 after being sworn in as Prime Minister in 2007.