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Australia: A scary place for American students?

"It is hard to be an American in Australia at the moment, it is really hard. It varies with different people, but you have to be quiet and try not to draw attention to yourself."
 
 
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Oh, those dear, sweet, poor little American college students who have dared to study in Australia!

SF Indy Media -- by way of Australia's Sunday Times -- reports that more and more US college students are getting bullied, harrassed and verbally abusedby Australians.

Why? Because they're American, and, what with George W. Bush and the Iraq War and all, America is a scary, scary place. Those devilish Aussies are inflicting so much personal trauma that some sensitive students have felt compelled to -- gasp! quit school and return to America.

One American woman -- who refused to be named -- recounted her sordid tale: "I have had a few incidents in bars...A guy heard my accent and he said: 'I hate your president. I hate your country.' "

Another student in the article said, "It's been war. People are scared. It is hard to be an American in Australia at the moment, it is really hard. It varies with different people, but you have to be quiet and try not to draw attention to yourself."

Even Australian-American Association state president Marylou Badeaux agreed that the America-bashing had grown out of hand on her home turf. "They are taking it out on people who may or may not agree...just because they have an American accent, they are being persecuted...It all depends on what the policies of the US government are at the time."

And Colorado's Australearn organization – which teaches "cultural adjustment" to US students before heading to Australia – said some students suffered culture shock because they'd mistakenly assumed that Everybody Loves America: "We are giving them the heads up that it is a bit more heated because of the war in Iraq.'"

Argh. I know, I know -- verbal abuse sucks. But come on -- college students, grow some spine! You're studying abroad. It's supposed to be fun. You're supposed to be learning things. So, how about this? Here's your first lesson: a little bit of bullying never killed anyone. Lesson 2: duh -- most countries don't like us very much right now. And why should they?

Laura Barcella is an associate editor at AlterNet.