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Jessica: Celebrating the Fourth of July

I celebrated my first Fourth of July away from my parent???s hometown of Frederic, WI, last night, and I have to admit I was a bit homesick. We went to a small American-themed bar in Covent Garden where they played Bruce Springsteen and Lynyrd Skynyrd all night, which was cool, but I missed the celebrations I had grown up loving. Someone set off fireworks in the park next to us, but they couldn???t compete with my uncle???s homemade fireworks display over the lake by his house, or seeing my little cousins playing in the marching band in the local parade. This year was particularly hard not to be home because it is the first Fourth of July since my brother decided to enrol as a cadet in the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the mixture of not knowing where he is and being so proud of him for serving our country was overwhelming. It also makes hearing the occasional anti-American rant a bit harder.

To be honest I thought everyone would hate us here just because we are American, and I am please to say that this is not the case. However, there are some who hate where our country has taken not only itself but the rest of the world with it, and many are not afraid to share their opinions. While out last night a man approached one of my friends, and upon finding out she was American, burst into a 15 minute rant about how ignorant she was, how disastrous our foreign policy is and how it???s our fault for electing the wrong leaders. While in a way it made me really angry to hear him insult my country, our military, my way of life, ME, just because of some decisions that were made in trying times, I refrained from telling him where his opinions went blatantly against fact and instead decided to find his side of it all intriguing.

Now days there aren???t even many Americans who would side with our administration, and I was far from surprised to find that this man wouldn???t. But to be an American living in day-to-day U.S.A. is to see a certain side of things, even a certain side of other people, and sometimes we forget the world is round and everything can be looked at from some other way. I thought I was worldly before I got here because I read the New York Times and the occasional Foreign Affairs magazine, but text cannot teach me how the average person half way across the world thinks, or the perceptions a man from Westminster can hold of me before he has even seen my face or heard my name. This world is suddenly bigger than it was in my polisci text books, and I know now that I really don???t have anything figured out just because I can tell you the differences between Sunnis and Shiites. I have finally looked beyond the bold print of scholars to the details of an every man???s life, and it???s both humbling and absolutely intriguing.

- Jessica

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