For the time that I’ve been here, my main concern as an American has been the poor dollar-to-euro exchange…but on a MUCH less serious note, my next main concern has been that Starbucks España doesn’t offer my beloved pumpkin spice latte (PSL.) Although the autumn chill only recently hit Madrid (about a week and it’s still in the 70s !), Tumblr, Facebook and all clothing websites have kindly reminded me it’s time for crunchy leaves, warm sweaters, and pumpkin-flavored everything. I love making treats from scratch and there are plenty of PSL-recipes that I’m sure I could stir up whenever I want. But it’s just not the same. #AmericanProblems
Well, I planned on writing this post a couple weeks ago, but homework and traveling have gotten in the way (boy, am I lucky enough to say that!), but it seems that now is finally time to put together this post. Why? Well…
“[Starting Monday October 1, 2013] the US government has begun shutting its non-essential services. Hundreds of thousands of workers are waking up to the news that they are on unpaid leave, and they don’t know how long it will last….The Federal government had no choice. The US financial year ended on 30 September, and politicians on Capitol Hill have failed to agree a new budget for the 2013-2014 financial year….No, it’s not an anarchist’s (or libertarian’s?) dream. Essential services, such as social security and Medicare payments, will continue. The US military service will keep operating, and Obama signed emergency legislation on Monday night to keep paying staff. But hundreds of thousands of workers at non-essential services, from Pentagon employees to rangers in national parks, will be told to take an unpaid holiday.” (The Guardian)
“It is the first shutdown in 17 years and the dollar fell early on Tuesday.” (BBC News)
Major Spanish news sources have been very objective on reporting the politics of the government shutdown, but their focus remains on issues like the halt of scientific research, and the closing of national parks and major tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty. I don’t have many international-relations-major Spanish friends so no one has yet to bring up the shutdown. According to NPR, “the president warns that the whole world is watching this drama and the reviews are not good. ‘It makes us look like we don’t have our act together,’ said President Obama.” Maybe I’ll be the one to start asking my peers some questions…
Even still, living outside of the United States is a real eye-opener. The U.S. is a baby on the historical timeline, we are a world super power and are highly regarded (most Spanish people’s eyes light up when they hear I’m from New York). It seems that most college students understand that neither the United States, Spain nor any other country is perfect and that our systems of government might not have it all together, but in the end we’re here to make a difference. Since I’m often busy while I’m at college, it’s not as easy to put my own worries aside to follow national and international news, but now I make time to pay attention to what’s going on. Better late than never.For those of you also traveling, tune into NYTimes, NPR, and BBC News and while in Spain El Pais, El Mundo, and The Local for easy-going Spanish news in English.)
In terms of infrastructure (irrigation, public transportation, roads, potable water, etc.), it isn’t very difficult making the transition from being in the U.S. to being in Spain. Though shops closing for the siesta has taken some getting used to and not having my dear Starbucks pumpkin spice latte this season is a bummer, this semester abroad is a great time to think about the country I’m in, the country I come from, and the world as one big smorgasbord of ideas.
*Note: The pumpkin spice latte is more a symbol of the season than an actual obsession, I promise.
[UPDATE: 10/17/13: “The US government partial shutdown is over after 16 days. Hundreds of thousands of workers were laid off, businesses have been hurt, and the standing of US credit in the eyes of the world was severely impacted.” (BBC News
My best friend, who currently attends American University, is working on her thesis and wasn’t able to go to the Library of Congress to access the resources she needed until the furlough was over. Though is the closest person to me that’s been affected by the government shutdown, I fear my whole country will be feeling the effects.]