i seem to be one of those people that manages to become part of very small, very unusual niche groups, probably due in large part to my rather unconventional upbringing and generally strange set of interests.
of course, the number of americans living abroad is not small. it’s really rather massive, when you think about it. and ireland certainly is not a wasteland devoid of US citizens. i’d wager to bet (without having even the vaguest notion) that there are thousands of americans in dublin alone. even still, sometimes it feels like we are an invisible minority. where the chinese and polish and italian groups in ireland are obvious (mostly due to their culinary additions to irish culture), americans don’t really tend to cluster. once, my chinese boss asked me where the “american bars” are in dublin… he wanted to know where americans go to socialise with other americans. i had to tell him honestly that i didn’t know of such a place. the general mass of americans that you do see around ireland are drunken pub-crawlers on holiday. aside from about 4 friends i know at DCU, i rarely meet other americans who are actually living here.
there are all sorts of interesting considerations for people living abroad – usually just stuff you have to do that you would never even think of until you’re in the midst of the situation itself. trying to open an aluminum can with a knife and chopsticks was one such activity when i was in china. in ireland, i’ve spent a lot of time sorting out bus routes, learning to drink heavily on tuesdays, always asking for “no mayo” on everything, and figuring out how to drive a right-hand drive car on the backroads of county clare.
this week’s citizens abroad consideration: absentee voting. the more experienced expats who have weathered an election year abroad before already know the drill. but for those of us first-timers, they don’t make it easy. thanks to votefromabroad.org, there is a lot of consolidated information available about how to vote and when the deadlines are, and they even provide you with a voter registration wizard. as for me, i have been abroad so long, i wasn’t even sure where or IF i was registered to vote… so it has been a long and arduous task of figuring out how to register from abroad, how to request the absentee ballot, and when all these crazy deadlines are.
as it turns out, a group called ‘americans abroad’ are hosting global primaries with voting centres for all citizens. i suppose they are split into party groups, because it is with democrats abroad that i will be voting tomorrow for super tuesday. apparently, this method actually puts voters abroad into our own kind of state category, so that in the end, we may have more swing than our original home states would. of course, for the general election in november, we have to mail in the absentee ballot to our home states to be counted as part of the election.
what i find really cool is that, for the first time since i’ve been here, i will get to be out and about with some really well-informed, cultured americans who are living abroad. democrats who (hopefully) will be giving their support to obama – grin. i’ve never been part of something like this, but the weight of this election year combined with being out of the country makes it a special feeling. in all honesty, the irish seem to be more well-informed about the election than the american population at large probably is – a sad fact, really.
so tomorrow i get to cast my super tuesday vote for obama in o’neills pub on suffolk street in dublin, and i think that’s really cool.