Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Am Globalization

What is globalization? That's a question I get asked in class quite often being a sociology minor. 

Before you get bored with what sounds like an academic blog post, let me just promise you there will be no pop quizzes involved. In fact, I don't really have any academic way to answer that question. The only true way I have been able to understand the idea of globalization on any concrete level is by answering the question with, "I am."

I am globalization. I'm a first generation Korean-American who met her French boyfriend in Asia, maintains a long-distance relationship via Chinese manufactured technology, will be studying abroad in Italy, and speaks Spanish. Can I tell you in academic terms what globalization means? Not really. But in layman's terms, I am globalization. 

The idea that we live in a globalized society didn't really mean anything to me until I started studying abroad. I'm lucky enough to get to go on my second semester abroad next month, and as much as I tried to not take it for granted, it's almost impossible not to do so. 

I had a talk with my mom when deciding whether or not to apply to study abroad in Italy next semester and, despite all my mom's good advice, was having a rough time deciding. But at the end of our phone conversation, stretching from Washington to California, she said the thing that would make me realize I had to take this (second) opportunity. 

"Your dad and I wish we could have traveled more. But when we were young, it wasn't really an option for us like it is for you today. And now, I don't really have a strong urge, or the energy, to travel all over the world."

See, I knew I was lucky to have the chance to study abroad once, let alone twice. But I thought I was lucky because I had the financial means and university encouragement to do so. What I didn't realize is that I'm also lucky to be young in these times when students are so encouraged to travel the world. I'm grateful for being in a position to travel to Asia and Europe for my studies, but I'm also grateful that this world has created a social climate that makes it so accessible to me. 

"Globalization" in academic terms is much more complex than I've written about here; it has it's upsides and it has it's downsides and it affects more than just our ability to travel and use technology invented in other countries. But as far as being able to really start to grasp the concept of globalization, I just think of myself. 

Heck, I toggle between five different languages on my phone keyboard. If that's not a sign of globalization, I don't know what is. 


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