In all honesty, I wasn’t really sure what globalization exactly meant before coming to Barcelona. I had ideas of what it was, but I did not feel as though I completely understood the concept. Reading Encountering Globalization by Kevin Robins really helped to clarify the meaning of globalization. It is more of a complex concept that I originally had perceived, according to the text.
In the simplest sense, I’ve encountered and witnessed globalization whenever I see a McDonalds. In every city that I have travelled to so far, here in Europe, I have seen not one, but at least two McDonalds. While I knew it existed all over the world, I did not know it existed globally in such abundance. When you walk into the McDonalds of Placa Catalunya in Barcelona, you can hear people speaking languages from all over the world. It is crazy to think that the symbolic yellow arches would most likely be recognized in even the most remote areas of the planet. McDonald’s brought the American culture of fast food into Europe. To some, that may not seem like a big deal. To me, it is significant because it is highly contrasting to the Spanish culture I have been learning these past months. Spanish meals are meant to be social and relaxing, and they normally take more than one hour. It makes me wonder if Spanish culture, concerning meal eating, will change as more Spanish locals try fast food. It is also possible that the fast food idea can exist in harmony with the idea of long sit-down meals. As Robins said “Globalization may be seen in terms of an accumulation of cultural phenomena where new global elements coexist alongside existing and established local or national cultural forms.”
One way I immersed myself in the culture here in Barcelona was by learning how to cook Spanish food. Through my school program, I took a class on learning how to cook tapas. Tapas are small plates of food that can be eaten as the entire meal or before main
courses. One might compare them to appetizers in the United States, although they are not entirely the same. With this activity, I was participating in globalization. Not only did I learn how to cook some delicious food, but I also learned about the history behind tapas. They were first invented for a former King of Spain who had a bad stomach. I would like to bring back the culture of tapas to America and incorporate them into my life. I will keep my American habits of eating while also bringing in this Spanish style of eating. When I return to America, my life will be a “‘creolization of global culture’” as Nederveen Pierterse describes globalization as hybridization.
One thing that worries me about globalization is the potential loss for culture specific to one country or place. As I was reading Encountering Globalization, I initially was thinking negative thoughts. If every country mixes cultures to form some sort of hybrid, how will you tell one country from the next? One of the best thing about traveling abroad is experiencing new cultures. It worries me that some of these cultures may disappear as more places become Americanized. Andrew Billen’s question “‘Are we all Americans now’”? expresses my concern. I thought the same thing when watching The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy. I was surprised and disappointed to see the Zambians purchasing second hand American clothing. I was disappointed because my naïve mind believed that when we donated clothes, people who needed the got them for free. Although this disappoints me, I am glad to see that the second hand clothes provide a business outlet for those without work. For Luka and others, this business keeps them from becoming criminals to survive. One part of the reading reassured me that not all cultural differences will be lost. In some cases, globalization provokes national loyalty that can be seen in a “resurgence of national, regional, ethnic and territorial attachments.