Travel Log 10: Encountering Globalization

I was taught about globalization and its effects on the world in my International Business class during the second semester of my sophomore year.  At that point I hadn’t really imagined that I would have the chance to go abroad and experience it for myself; at the time it appeared that this chance would never come.  Now that I’ve spent nine weeks on my own in Barcelona, I have experienced many different instances of globalization.  I have traveled to six different countries already and have seen globalization in every single one of them.  The most notable piece of globalization? Eating at restaurants.  At every restaurant I have been to in the six countries that I have visited, they had menus in several different languages.  I have learned that with tourism being such an important part of many of these countries, that every restaurant is forced to have a globalized outlook on business and print menus for people of all walks of life.  The most notable thing in Barcelona is small scale but important nonetheless.  The people in Barcelona speak Catalan, which until I came here, I thought was very, very close to Spanish, but have found a lot of difficulty reading and listening to it.  I speak decent Spanish and find that reading the Spanish menus at restaurants is actually a lot easier than the English menu, but Catalan is a whole new monster.  However, while Catalan is so different from Spanish, everyone still speaks Spanish and that is an ode to globalization, even if it seems like such a small part of it.

As a marketing major I also take in a lot of the advertisements I see around the city, because I think they do a really great job at catering to this globalized world.  I find that if the ad works well enough to convince me to buy something and I can’t even understand what the language is trying to tell me, then that’s a great ad.  Many of the ads are even in English, to cater to the most global language out there.  Globalization is even in the music they listen to, considering I only hear the main hits from the U.S whenever I go out to the clubs.  I have heard maybe ten Spanish songs since I have been here and that may be because mostly Americans only go out to the clubs during the week when I’m here and not traveling, but beside the point, it points towards globalization and marketing.  These clubs are using their globalized outlook and purposely playing American music to seduce American study abroad students to waste tons of money on overpriced drinks, and, hey, it works.  Kevin Robins states, “For it is surely clear that global shift – associated with the creation of world markets, with international communication and media flows, and with international travel – has profound implications for the way we make sense of our lives and of the changes we live in.” (Robins 242).  This quote spoke to me because of the media flows aspect, because of how much the global media flow market is dominated by American influences.  America has always been very ahead with social trends, social media, music, art, and even international travel.  In many of the countries I visited, sad to say, were trying to coax Americans into spending money.  Globalization has affected me in Barcelona by making it okay that I don’t know a lot of Spanish, because I can get around just fine without knowing the native language of the country and if that doesn’t speak to globalization, then I’m not sure what will.

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One thought on “Travel Log 10: Encountering Globalization

  1. I find it really interesting what you said about determining if an ad is good if it entices you even when it is not in English. That makes me want to walk around and see what ads in other languages I can find. The massive amount of advertising to Americans is clear no matter where you go and personally I think that is in part where the stereotype of Europeans disliking Americans comes from. I mean our main export in America is entertainment so we do have a wide impact on the lives of people around the globe but that does mean that Europeans are going to try to cater to American tourists because they know they will make money.

    I really do think that there is something taken away when we cannot incorporate ourselves into a culture that is completely different than American but at the same time perhaps it is the crutch we need in order to explore these new opportunities. I took American Sign Language as my language in high school so I’ve been scraping together languages when I visit new places, but perhaps I should be trying to communicate solely in those languages and abandon English entirely. Who knows how much of a difference it would make to my experience abroad.

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