Travel Log 10 “Encountering Globalization” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

I never expected to find so many of the exact same stores, restaurants, and products in Spain as we have in America. I knew that there would be many similarities, but I was not prepared for the amount of brand names to appear. Not only did these products appear in Spain, but also in my travels to places such as Prague, Germany, and Amsterdam. I thought that these places would have different designers, restaurants, and products to make their countries more unique. Although there are some Spanish name-brands, the majority of the major stores and restaurant chains are very similar to America. Before studying abroad, I was blind to how prevalent globalization has become. For example, a block from my apartment there is a KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King. All of these fast food chains are always packed. The fast food chains didn’t shock me as much as the stores. While I thought Barcelona was going to consist mostly of small boutiques and shoe shops, stores such as Chanel, Burberry, H&M, Louis Vuitton, Urban Outfitters, Michael Kors, and Coach line the streets. This makes me feel like I am in New York City rather than Barcelona. Apart from stores, American influence and globalization has a huge place in music. All of the music playing in stores, metro, cabs, clubs, bars, and restaurants is all American music. This was shocking to me. I didn’t understand why they were listening to music and English and American music. I thought they would have their own celebrities and all of the music would be in Spanish or Catalan. This just showed the power of globalization.

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In the workshop, our class defined a global community by saying, “A global community is comprised of all living things who make up smaller communities that are conjoined by the desire to achieve human rights.” This definition takes on a whole new meaning now that I understand the purpose and effects of globalization. It is important for us to tweak our definition to add that a global community shares many of the same products and services. The image that chose is a business man painting the world all of the same color. This symbolism illustrates how the global community is all “painted red” or in other words, we are all the same. In chapter “Encountering Globalization,” Kevin Robbins debates the growing concept of globalization and its impact on the world as a whole. He describes that “globalization is growing mobility across frontiers” (Robbins 1). This idea of “mobility” is the movement of products and services across cultures with little boundaries. This interchange of ideas makes countries more similar.

There can be many benefits and setbacks to globalization and Robins discusses both of these in his chapter. He describes the benefits of globalization as a way to connect with people in order to exchange both similar and different ideas. While the world is growing increasingly similar, within the similarities we are able to still exchange differences with people from other cultures. For example, with Silvia we are able to talk about similar things such as places we shop, what we do for fun, and where we like to eat, while learning new things about the Catalan and American cultures. It allows us to keep an open mind to the way other culture’s do things and consider implementing them in own our daily lives or home countries.

In the video, The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, it demonstrates the more negative side to globalization. In the video, it displays how clothes given to the Salvation Army in American are primarily sold to distributers who mark up the price of the cloth and then sell it to people in Africa. People in America believe they are doing a good thing by giving away old clothes to those less fortunate, but it is not necessarily the case. This absolutely disgusts me. Instead of giving old clothes to people we know or trying to sell them, my family always donates our clothes to the Salvation Army or to other charitable organizations. We always assumed that by the honors system they would end up in the hands of someone who really needed them. Watching the video and seeing all of the African people in old, donated clothes with logos on them that they had to PAY for was shocking and showed a whole new, negative side to globalization. Unlike seeing similar brand-name clothes and stores in Spain, these people in Africa were merely using these clothes as a means of survival and completely ignorant to the “status” or importance of particular name brands. As our world becomes more globalized it is important to dig deeper to discover if the globalization is a result of an exchange of ideas, or if an idea or product is being simply placed in a culture for reasons such as economic hardship.

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