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          Foreign sentiments: an American's reception abroad

          Zac Wilkins

          Issue date: 3/26/10 Section: Opinion
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          One of my many concerns when I decided to study abroad was the possibility of encountering anti-U.S. sentiment or presumptions when revealing my nationality to people in my host country. Now, Argentina is not like Iran or Venezuela, for example, which I mean to say that there are not severe tensions between the governments of the two countries. Nevertheless, the prevalence of U.S. policies in the world still engenders a wide range of opinions with respect to our country.

          Originally during my study abroad experience I would only hear occasional references in class, on the news, or possible a faint discussion or mention of the United States in passing on the street. Yet, in classes, I was still taken aback by the sort of shameless remarks made. It seems the phrase "U.S. hegemony" in Argentina is accepted as factual as "the Earth revolves around the sun." When entering into a debate during class, the validity of U.S. so-called imperial interests is not contested, not questioned, not uncertain; it is a fact built upon to lead into other discussions.

          Now, I am fully aware that the U.S. has for years been known to meddle in the affairs of other countries, but I always underestimated the extent to which people look at our country in that way. However, despite the obvious negative connotation of this statement, it is sometimes said in a not-too-malevolent way, by professors who don't necessarily have some sort of internal hatred for the U.S.

          Next, I began to experience new levels of counter-U.S. skepticism. This began to arise as I got a job and began to get to know my co-workers on a more personal level, made close friends, and participated more fully in deeper class discussions. It seems an almost universal opinion (which, for not having heard about prior to my study abroad experience, perhaps makes me a badly informed person) that the real reason the U.S. went to the Middle East after the September 11 attacks was specifically in order to bargain with oil-rich countries and gain a profit in the end - to the extent that the idea of 'pursuing Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden' is a total farce.
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