While their Italian neighbors slept peacefully in their beds, Umbra Institute students — many of whom are first-time voters — spent the early hours of the morning glued to classroom seats, watching the 2012 presidential election unfold.
From 2 a.m. onward, students, staff, and faculty members vacillated between triumph and despair as swing states flopped every quarter hour. Composed of constituents from Mississippi to Massachusetts, the bipartisan group remained amicable.
“I thought it’d be more tense,” admitted Annie Bodian around 3:30 a.m. “But it’s been fine – it’s been fun! Because we’re the only people here watching the election, we’re able to be just excited about watching this together here (in Italy). We don’t have to focus on these differences.”
Umbra staff members were pleased with the turnout of the event; approximately 30 students attended throughout the morning.
“It brings students together during an exciting time – we can feel more connected to what is going on in the U.S. and also to each other as Americans living abroad,” said Umbra intern Julia Bourque, who drew on her own experience as a study abroad student in France during the 2008 presidential election when she was organizing today’s event. “I think it’s important for students to feel like they are a part of the elections, and doing a red-eye event is a fun way to watch the news – especially with a B.Y.O. Breakfast!”
The students enjoyed nutella on toast, makeshift jam sandwiches, and a variety of cookies; around 4 a.m., they flocked to the in-school espresso machine.
By 5:30 a.m., CNN projected President Barack Obama’s reelection. Students sang along to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” as they left the building, happy to have participated in their first national election.