“The American Election” – what does it mean for internationals in the U.S. that can’t vote?

Today is finally election day. The murky election waters seem to be clearing and the finish line is near. The race has been a volatile one, but in mere hours, it will finally all be over.

Well, not really.

The election race may be, but the aftermath and undetermined repercussions have not yet begun. In one way or another, all citizens — no matter their background, age, party, etc. — will be affected by who wins.

American college students, millennials, youth– whatever you want to call us– are the ones who will arguably be the most affected by who takes the winning ticket. We are the future, and this is why it is paramount we all utilize our right to vote and head to the polls.

But what about the youth residing in the U.S. that can’t vote? International students, some in the country for their whole college career, and others just stopping by for a study abroad program, give their quick two cents about the U.S., the election race, and its fate. The responses are short and free answer, coming from transplants located all across the nation.

Reina Chehayeb, 22, Lebanese, masters in psychology at Columbia University

I think the election is hilarious– I don’t think the two final candidates have ever been so high profile and so controversial. I know a lot of people who don’t want to vote because of that, and are being put down by everyone else because they’re not. And I understand the reason for that, but I also understand the other side of deciding not to vote. The whole thing is so complicated and sensitive and controversial.

Final thought: I guess I’m thankful I don’t have to be a part of it and can just enjoy the superficial humor that comes of the whole thing since it’s out of my hands anyway.


Neha Sahai, 20, Indian, studying architecture at Rice University

It’s been really strange to not have a say or voice in a country you feel so invested in. In a way, I wish I was able to vote because I’ve “earned” my right to be here as an international student, and I’ve been following US politics since I got here. It’s also difficult when I see people who actually CAN vote not exercising that right, because there are so many people that not only died for others to have that right, but also so many people that can be affected by you not voting. I’ve never felt unsafe in the US before until this election. It’s made me realize that not all Americans are equivocally friendly and not racist/sexist. Like, every time I think of Trump supporters I ask myself if they think less of me because I have brown skin / am a foreigner / am a woman?

Final thought: It’s like watching something you were so close to and there’s nothing you can do to help.


Diego Cagigas, 20, Spanish, studying economics on exchange at the University of Texas at Austin

After living through two elections in a row and almost a year without a government, I thought no other country could top the Spanish political situation. I was wrong. At least comedic shows are having a great time.

Final thought: …


Robin Hoglund, 23, Swedish, studying business marketing at University of Maine

I’m from Sweden, and I believe that Donald Trump, on the issues, represents the American people. Hillary Clinton represents special interest groups who don’t care about the American people nearly as much as Trump does.

Final thought: Don’t worry, be happy!


Joao Vitor C. Pereira Pinto, 23, Brazilian, studying economics and advertising at the University of Texas at Austin

In countries like my own, we are used to choosing the lesser evil. It’s what we always do. I feel Americans usually get to choose a fairly decent candidate, so this election is abnormal. This has led to mass support of someone that is completely unfit to be president of the most powerful country in the world.

Final thought: I find it crazy that Americans can even compare both candidates; Hillary should be winning by a landslide.


Shannon Schottle, 21, German, communications exchange student at Cornell University

I think that watching the debates and generally following the elections this year felt more like watching an entertainment channel than politics- it’s keeping the citizens occupied while distracting them from all the world problems politicians should be concerned with.

Final thought: It’s not entertainment– it’s politics.


Alessandro Fabbrini, 20, Italian, advertising exchange student at the University of Texas at Austin

Well, I’ve had a lot of people around campus asking me if I had registered to vote. I soon got tired to give them the same “I’m not from here” answer, so on the latest occasion I blurted out: “I’m not American, thank God!” Only a couple seconds after that did I realize that what I had said regarding not having to vote, due to the poor choices available, probably came through as: I’m a xenophobic asshole who doesn’t like Americans.

Final thought: Vote for Hillary…?


Mattia Castiello, 22, Italian, psychology exchange student at Syracuse University

it is interesting to be in a country going through an election that could possibly influence the rest of the world. To see that the remaining candidates are these two individuals was not expected by anyone at the beginning of the polls. I wish everyone who lives here much luck after tomorrow.

Final thought: I thought people in the United States wanted positive change. To see a racist business man with no knowledge of foreign policies so close to being president makes me sad for my American friends.


Alvaro Alonso, 21, Spanish, communications exchange student at the University of Texas at Austin

As It happens in Europe, people don’t seem to vote for candidates but against candidates. Is there any hope? If the burn for Bernie was felt simply as a sigh, and the country is not unified, how will it become stronger?

Final thought: The US as bad as EU! We are in a transition and the leaders of the future are yet unknown.


Becky Pinet, 24, Mexican, masters of arts in counseling at St. Edward’s University

I think this election has been really crazy. I watched all three of the final presidential debates and noticed how different they were from when Obama was running for president. Trump just seems to basically be making a joke of the whole process, he is rude and has no concrete plans for anything. I was very surprised he was the republican choice. However, more than surprised I’m worried because he is inciting hate, racism, violence and sexism in the country. While I have lived a long time in the US I feel impotent because I can’t vote for someone that would take office and have a direct impact on my life.

Final thought: This election has been surprising, entertaining, very concerning and, as someone that can’t vote but who’s future can be affected be the outcome– it makes me feel powerless.


Laurents Mohr, 23, German, international management exchange student at the University of Texas at Austin

It’s embarrassing that the self proclaimed greatest nation on earth is incapable of producing a serious candidate for presidency. I neither like Hillary or Trump, with Trump obviously being worse. We Europeans feel like this election is an IQ test for America. We firmly believe y’all are not stupid enough to vote Trump, but you never know. Trump uses similar tactics as Hitler did when he rose to power, by creating enemies, fear and lying to the public. The biggest problem in the states is in my opinion the media, as it plays into the hands of the people who like to hear what they already believe in, thus separating the two groups further.

Final thought: We all just wish Obama could do another term or we could just postpone the election a few months and both parties resubmit their candidates.


Political force and power lies in the consciousness of millennials. It is important to induce dialogue and confront the issues of our democracy beyond those who can vote. We must create dialogue with those residing in the U.S. that do not identify as American or do not hold an American passport, as they are rooted in the Nation’s identity just as deeply.

By Dahlia Dandashi


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