As an American living abroad in the United Kingdom, I find myself constantly answering a barrage of questions about my homeland.
"Is it really like the movies?"
"Was your college life like 'American Pie?'"
Umm, no. I sat in the library 90 percent of my time.
"Is Ohio next to Texas?"
Umm, have you heard of a map?
"Do you only have a two-party system?"
"What does the electoral college even do?"
"Is it true that the states are still split ideologically like they were during the Civil War?"
The most killer question I get asked as of late is, "Would you permanently stay abroad if Donald Trump gets elected?"
Well, I will as long as this petition remains in place, banning the man from ever stepping foot into this Kingdom.
All hail the Queen!
While the first few inquiries may require a brief refresher course through my US government class notes, that last one about Donald Trump really gets me going.
Being an American abroad is like constantly having to be the sole mouthpiece, cheerleader, representative and sponsor of our country of nearly 320 million people.
(And I thought the population of my alma mater, Ohio State University, was scary at around 65,000 students.)
On any random day in rainy London, as soon as you hear my Midwestern twang — you can apparently take the girl out of Ohio, but never the Ohio out of the girl — I find myself facing questions like:
1. Why does your country incarcerate more humans than any other country in the world?
2. Why do some people think the solution to stop people from killing people with guns is to simply supply them with more guns?
3. Why are people so opposed to affordable healthcare?
I’ll usually reply with a sheepish, "Your guess is as good as mine," and shuffle to my seat.
Before I get ahead of myself and make this into a long letter to gun lobbyists (I'm looking at you, NRA), please let me explain why — despite all the hurtful things some Americans (I’m looking at you, Trump) say about other Americans — I still believe America is the best country in the world.
No, I am not an egotistical, arrogant American tooting my horn all over England or the globe.
So, here it goes. This is my own little pledge allegiance:
I, Alexandra Marie Constantinou, am proud to be American because despite it all, I believe in (and voted for) our current president, whom I wholeheartedly see giving a damn every day.
No matter what party you support, you’ve got to give the man credit for his cleverness.
He tries, he fails, he faces opposition, he falls, he makes a small difference and he falls.
Then he gets up again, again and again.
I am proud to be American because despite it all, we are a melting pot of nearly 320 million people who hail from every country on the planet.
We work every day to be better, bolder and wiser.
(If you don't believe me, watch this.)
I am proud to be American because despite it all, the American Dream is still real.
My dad grew up in Cyprus and realized early on that his education was his ticket out.
He came to the States on a Fulbright scholarship with almost nothing in his pocket, and he studied hard.
He worked hard to create a life he could only dream of back in the village he grew up in, and he took my well-educated, badass mom along for the ride.
Nearly 40 years later, my family collectively has seven degrees (four Bachelor’s, two PhDs, one MsC), zero debt and one paid-off home to our name.
I am proud to be American because despite it all, no matter what sh*tty situation we find ourselves in, we know we can always change it for the better.
Sometimes, we just need some reminding to know where we’re going, who we are and where we’ve been.
Like the forefathers of our country once said,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.
The proof is in that pudding, y’all.
And 240 years later, it's still true.
I am proud to be American because despite it all, Obama laid it all out on the line this month.
I am proud of the leader of my country for not giving up until the last bell tolls.
When asked about America’s future, he reflected on the fear, the fright and the might we have at our disposal, no matter where we may be in the world.
The next time I’m asked why I left the States if they’re so great, or what I think about A, B or C in the USA, I will channel my inner Barack Obama and be bold:
1. The America I know isn’t the one that makes headlines for the wrong reasons, creating misconceptions and fueling stereotypes.
2. The America I know doesn’t go it alone. The America that I know is a team.
3. The America I know gave me the opportunities to pursue my dreams across the sea.
4. The American I know and love is a global citizen, always seeking to own up when it’s wrong. It looks to the future with a clear heart and an open mind, a la "Friday Night Lights".
That’s the America I know.
That’s the country we love.
It's clear-eyed, big-hearted and undaunted by challenge.
I'm optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future.
I am proud to be an American because at least I know I'm free to be me.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Elite Daily.