On the outside looking in: International students voice their opinions on Trump and US politics

Maggie Haddock
Assistant news writer
mhaddock@unca.edu

While residing U.S. citizens share their opinions on President Trump regularly, international students studying abroad at UNC Asheville bring a new perspective to the discussion of U.S. politics.

“I was here for the inauguration. Trump’s inauguration speech everyone said was quite presidential, quite boring. He didn’t do anything much. Then after that, all this extra stuff comes out,” said Gordon Barlow, a political science student from Sydney, Australia. “Everyday, there’s some new controversy.”

Berkay Denli, an international trade and business and economics student from Istanbul, Turkey, said U.S. politics seem like fiction to him and those in other countries.

“I was seeing debates as some fictional TV series. Debates are like TV series where people are watching. The speeches were so popularized, you know, they were saying what sells, basically, what society wants,” Denli said. “But when I came here, I see people are marching, they are in the streets. Something is more serious than those speeches.”

Politicians and the people they govern remain separate entities, Denli said. The 22-year-old notices a much more diverse group of people than what was represented through the debates he watched during the U.S. presidential election.

“I feel like U.S. politics don’t represent U.S. people at all. I always to make a separation between society and politics. Because in politics, they are talking about the things that get popular,” Denli said. “I don’t feel like society is as divided as politics because you cannot see Clinton and Trump right now in the same picture.”

Denli noted the idea of citizens being divided over to political views seems absurd due to the small impact opinions have on a country.

“I have friends who are democrats and republicans. We still eat all together. We are not that divided. I hope people are not going to get divided like that ever,” Denli said. “I speak like this because of my experiences in Turkey. My government doesn’t represent me in Turkey. I have friends who voted for our government but our friendships are still going on. We don’t care that much about politics and people shouldn’t care that much about politics. Because they are some big guys and they don’t have an effect on our private lives.”

Although citizens should not be divided over politics, Trump’s presidency comes with caution and should be taken seriously, Denli said.

“Before coming here, I was worried about Trump. I was worried about if he gets elected, what it would be like in the U.S. after the Trump,” Denli said. “I mean, I didn’t worry about, ‘Oh my God, I’m going there. What if Trump is going to be president? What about my rights?’ I didn’t worry about those things, but after coming here right now, I am seeing that it’s real.”

Berkay Denli, an international business and trade and economics student from Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Michaela Hall.

Paulina Kordyś, a law student from Katowice, Poland, said Americans seem much more involved in politics than the people from other countries.

“Compared to America, people do not seem to care. Polish hate politics in general, however they are active in the elections,” Kordyś said. “Political unpopularity is the result of wide interpretation of the speech and the debate clause allows representatives to say whatever they want, including discriminatory speech.”

Kordyś noted U.S. involvement in politics to be high compared to Poland, including current polarization in the Supreme Court, a branch designed to uphold the constitution void of personal political views.

“I did not know that so many depended on politics in the country and everyone has some political views on many issues. What was surprising as well was that even judges of U.S. Supreme Court are politically involved,” Kordyś said.

The Trump administration harbors disdain internationally. Trump receives global criticism in particular for his frequent use of Twitter.

“The way he handles things is quite unprofessional,” Barlow said. “He said he wasn’t happy with Australia in a tweet. He wasn’t anything professional with that at all. Australians especially saw that and thought, ‘This guy’s a knob.’ He’s not going to handle it the way he should and it strikes everyone as quite incompetent.”

Kordyś noted a similar stance on Trump’s unprofessionalism by turning to Twitter.

“I think he definitely should have consulted his ideas with aids, as well as restrain posting everything on Twitter. I do not agree with him in many issues, and I think he lacks the competence,” Kordyś said.

Trump’s presidency seems to lack sincerity and falls short of presidential standards, Denli said.

“I’m seeing Trump as very artificial, like fiction. His ideas and his speeches are just for marketable purposes,” Denli said.

Gordon Barlow, a political science student from Sydney, Australia. Photo by Michaela Hall.

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