Schufreider: Going abroad, how I’ll miss this sweet land of liberty

Dan Schufreider

Starting this week, I am studying abroad in London for six months. I realize this means I will be missing Dillo Day and all the glory that comes with it, but I suppose you have to make some sacrifices in order to spend an extended period of time outside the Northwestern bubble in one of the world’s greatest cities.

With the anxiety and excitement of my upcoming time abroad hanging over my head, I began to think: What aspects of American culture and society will I miss most while studying in jolly ole England? After some deep thought, I managed to pinpoint a few of my favorite characteristics of U.S. society that cannot be found elsewhere on the globe.

  • The pursuit of awesome-ness: I know the founders intended for us to pursue happiness, but I think somewhere over the past couple of centuries, we Americans decided to shoot for awesomeness instead. Our immense wealth in terms of natural resources and human ingenuity has led to the creation of the Big Mac, the contemporary international political economy, the skyscraper, Transformers 2 and other fantastic wonders. Of course, our pursuit of awesomeness has not always been positive and has probably contributed to many of the problems plaguing us today. However, the positive usually outweighs the negative in this regard. Think of the wisdom of our founding fathers, the creativity of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll and the dream of today’s immigrants striving for a better life. All of those things are awesome! And that awesomeness is one thing I will truly miss.
  • The pain/beauty of our political system: The fact that it takes more than 40 years to expand health care coverage in the U.S. but only a few months to approve, plan and execute a war is an absolutely mind-boggling element of American governance. However, we Americans have learned to diffuse our anger. We can remind ourselves that despite the absurdity, our government is still more democratic, more just and, in my humble opinion, simply better than the alternatives. History has proven this statement correct many times, and being able to enjoy from within the ridiculous yet beautiful dance that is American democracy is another thing that I will truly miss
  • The (excessive?) pride: If those first two aspects were not evidence enough, allow me to clarify: I love America. Call me crazy, but I still truly believe we live in the greatest country in the world, and America’s ongoing relative global decline can only be bad for the planet as a whole. I also believe the vast majority of Americans will agree with my belief in America’s superiority, and I will miss being surrounded by this blind faith. But perhaps this experience overseas will be good for me. Perhaps I will learn to more readily acknowledge the numerous flaws and misdeeds of our nation. And perhaps, with a bit of luck, I will be able to persuade a few limeys to admit to America’s awesomeness.

Dan Schufreider can be reached at [email protected]