It never really occurred to me what a unique country the United States is until I left it. Of course, everyone knows it’s nicknamed the melting pot for all of the different races, cultures, foods, values, religions, and ideas it welcomes. But having never experienced any other country, I was curious as to how other, more “pure” countries run without the heavy influence of different peoples. Back home, you can drive down the road and pass Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and Italian restaurants on one side of the road, and a temple, a church, and a mosque on the other. When I left home I wondered what Spain would be like with regards to globalization. Would I have access to similar places as in the United States? Would there be more than just Spaniards living there? Would different people fill different cultural and economic niches than in the U.S.? The more time I spend here learning and exploring, the more I learn about Spain’s level of globalization and how it’s influenced by various cultures.
I have encountered a decent amount of globalization here, but not nearly as much as in the United States. One example being the countless amounts of Burger King, McDonald’s and Domino’s that are located every few miles you travel. Another is the technology here. They have brands such as Apple and Samsung, and printing companies with English slogans that clearly aren’t locally made. There are also banks such as Santander and brand name packaged foods like Oreo, Lay’s, 5 Gum, Kellogg’s, and more. As a student abroad, I think that almost every interaction I have with Spanish people can be categorized as an act of globalization as well. Tourism and the movement of people from place to place is one of the biggest ways goods, services, and ideas make their way around the planet. There have been countless occasions where I have discussed ideas and cultural differences with people of my host country. These conversations have influence on both their thoughts as well as my own, and will soon be brought back to the United States with me when I return. There’s no telling how big of an impact a small conversation can have on a country. The way I see it, the spread of anything starts with communication. So the more we talk, the more we share.
Prior to writing this travel log, the word globalization always had a positive connotation in my mind. Why wouldn’t it be a good thing to share ideas, goods, and services, and learn about other cultures and their values? “Encountering Globalization” by Kevin Robins and “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy” both opened my eyes as to how “Globalization is an uneven and unequal process.” (Robins, 242) Being on the receiving end of so many fantastic goods and services, it’s far too easy to forget about people in other parts of the world and how difficult their lives are. There are people out there who put their blood sweat and tears into the selling of clothing that we deemed too old or out of style to wear. These people and the quality of the lives they live are so commonly overlooked it’s sickening. Following a few days in the life of Luka and seeing how difficult it is for him to make money and his desire to go to school and put a roof over his family’s heads really made me take a step back and evaluate at my priorities. There is a quote in the video that says, “We need to be more concerned with people than we are with capital.” and I think that basically sums up the downside to globalization. The rich are so focused on goods and money that they forget about the people backstage. That is why I believe that our class definition of a global community needs to be changed in order to incorporate and emphasize the importance of respecting and valuing each other’s lives.
I chose to include this photo of a store I found here in Seville called “Taste of America” which sells a handful of American snack foods such as Snyder’s Pretzels, Reese’s Pieces, Duncan Hines Cake Mix, Lucky Charms, Cheerio’s, and Dr. Pepper. (Just to name a few.) It’s funny to think about how we live in a world that is so globalized that even if you don’t have access to foods like this in the local stores of another country, you can still purchase them in a place like this.