In this week’s lectures, we discussed not only the movement of people, but also the movement of culture. We learned that both of these things (people and culture) are moving all of the time, and that they move by the process of globalization. Globalization compresses time and space; it also makes it possible for information and ideas to get from Beijing to Nebraska, almost instantaneously. In a sense, globalization flattens or shrinks the world as cultures diminish. One can experience various world cultures without ever leaving their homeland, and if they do venture out past the confines of their country’s borders, chances are they will still be able to find remnants of their homeland abroad. This proved to be the case for me.
Even outside of the U.S., various countries adopt other cultural aspects. I learned this first hand on my study abroad trip to Italy. With my trip, obviously I became part of the movement of people as seen in globalization. That being said, I took U.S. cultural traits (my preconceived notions about the country and the food; my clothing; my knowledge of popular U.S. culture) with me to Italy, and when I left, I brought Italian cultural ideas home to the U.S (tokens and souvenirs galore, the friendships with some of the Italian students I had met while there, and phrases of Italian that I picked up). This is how globalization works with the movement of people, and should be of no surprise, however, what I was not prepared for was the broad array of American culture that was already present in Italy that seemed to be waiting for me/my arrival. American culture has truly swept the world. I was floored to see popular U.S. stores such as G.A.P. and H & M in the fashion capital of Milan. I was stunned to see eateries such as McDonald’s and Burger King in Rome, and I was even a little taken aback when I saw an advertisement for the Dark Knight Rises outside of my dorm in Florence. How could I be so far away from home, yet still find these comforts that I associate with the U.S.? Globalization. It was also fascinating to see the Italian hybridization of American pizza—in Italy, they have what is considered “pizza Americano”, which is what they think we eat in terms of pizza. Basically, it consists of pizza crust, ketchup, hotdog chucks, and American cheese.
Another example of cultural adoptions that are visible in daily life can be seen in East Lansing. In my opinion, there is no better place to see cultural adaptions than on our campus and in the surrounding areas. Since MSU is such a diverse school, with students from all walks of the world, the culture around the school is just as diverse. Walking down Grand River, one can find eateries (cultural hybridizations, i.e. “American-Chinese food”) from the various cultural groups that have come to call East Lansing their home. One could almost eat their way around the world, in a sense—for example, there is hybridizations of Thai food, Chinese food, Japanese Sushi, Mexican cuisine, and even Italian food. This in itself is a representation of American culture incorporating the various groups that live in this area and adopting a part of their culture.
Students can also experience various forms of alternative medicine from around the world, from herbs to procedures. I have personally been to a spa in the area that and tried traditional Chinese fire cupping, which is a healing technique that encourages blood flow. The spa I went to also offered acupuncture, electroacupuncture, regular massages, and meditation classes. All of these are part of traditional Chinese healing practices. There are also several Chinese/Asian markets in the area that sells various “healing” herbs, too. Overall, while globalization squashes out some of the diversity that makes this world beautiful, it brings people closer by allowing us to experience other cultures freely, and in an amount that feels comfortable for us.