YOUNGSTOWN - Paul Sracic may have used some vacation time to spend three days in Belgium, but it really wasn't time the college professor planned to spend not working.
He was kept pretty busy, delivering seven lectures on politics in the U.S. to students, state officials and academics in different parts of the European nation, sandwiched between the English Channel, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Europeans have an ''intense interest'' in this presidential election, Sracic said, so he tailored his remarks around politics before and after the Nov. 6 election and the number of scenarios that could result depending on winners and losers of the presidential and U.S. Senate and House of Representative races.
''We're dealing really with a multi-dimensional chess board where everybody is plotting for the future,'' said Sracic, chairman of the political science department at Youngstown State University, who got home recently from the quick overseas trip.
The trip was arranged through and provided by the U.S. State Department, but Sracic became known in this country world famous for its chocolate and beer when he commented for stories in the newspaper, De Standaard.
He said crowds he spoke to were interested in the internal politics of Ohio as a crucial swing state in the presidential election, the U.S. fiscal cliff and whether Americans are concerned at all with the Euro crisis.
The Paul Sracic file
Recently spent three days in Belgium lecturing students, state officials and academics about politics in the U.S. before and after the Nov. 6 election
Among the locations where he spoke while abroad in October were the U.S. Embassy in Antwerp; a university in Brussels; the German Marshall Fund; and at the University of Mons
Professor and chair of the political science department and Rigelhaupt Pre-Law Center at Youngstown State University
Former Fulbright Lecturer in Japan, where he taught at Sophia University in Tokyo and the University of Tokyo
''I had to tell them over and over again, 'no,''' said Sracic, who said he tried explaining to them about the general American disinterest in foreign policy.
''They are more interested in us than we are of them, in part, because as they say, 'When America sneezes, they catch a cold,''' Sracic said.
In addition, Sracic said they tended to favor Democrat President Barack Obama over Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, and had an interest in the exceptional sums of money spent on elections, and why limits aren't placed on what can be spent.
Among the locations he spoke were the U.S. Embassy, in Antwerp, a university in Brussels, the German Marshall Fund and at the University of Mons, in Mons, a city near the French border that Sracic said reminded him of Youngstown, a city trying to reinvent itself.
Sracic spent a year abroad as a Fulbright Lecturer in Japan, where he taught American politics, constitutional interpretation and the American presidency at Sophia University in Tokyo and the University of Tokyo. He also performed public lectures on the impact of the 2010 midterm elections on Obama's presidency.
He returned to Japan in March for another engagement.