Globalization Correlations

The world is getting smaller. At least that’s what some people say. When an airplane can get you from Missoula, MT to Amsterdam, Beijing, Tokyo, Prague, and beyond in less time than it takes to drive to the East Coast, when email and phones make contact and communication instantaneous anywhere in the world, there is truth in that.

Times have changed. It used to take weeks to sail up and down the East Coast of North America, let alone to make the voyage across the Atlantic or the Pacific. Of course that was long ago, before cars were invented. But even when our parents were taking their turns at studying abroad, phone calls were rare and the internet was in its infancy.

How does that relate to my study abroad experience? It relates in the way that globalization (the big ‘it’ word that the GLI is built around) is directly correlated to those developments in transportation and communication. In Ireland, the American influence is a bit more noticeable than in places like Bulgaria or the Czech Republic. However, Irish culture, Bulgarian culture, and Czech culture still are fundamentally unique, with traditions and beliefs that will never fade.

As well they should not. Its hard to put into perspective how much cultures differ until you’re living in one that’s not your own. I know this sounds like a ‘Duh!’ moment, but from someone that has never been outside the United States (excluding Canada), it was a profound revelation.

Thinking about my GLI topic that I chose freshman year, I’ve come to realize that obviously I need to rethink so things. It had something to do with how the arts (specifically theatre) are transmitted and passed from culture to culture, and while that is an interesting and relevant topic for an anthropologist, there are other, more modern, more pressing topics that have to deal with issues in the world right now. Or at least, I can tweak my topic to reflect a more mature understanding of the way the world works.

Has anyone else wanted to change their topic after their Beyond the Classroom experience? I imagine so. These experiences (at least Studying Abroad from my perspective) are profoundly momentous. I don’t know if I’ve referenced this quote before on this blog but Mark Twain’s quote is a good way to finish this my entries in this blog.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

The realization of what culture is

So I readily admit that I was one of those people who originally signed up for GLI because it was easy to click ‘yes’ and because I got to travel from it. I know, I know, but really, what did I know at the time? I was 18, a little bit younger and more naive than I am now. It sounded cool and I got to learn about more cultures.

The thing about that was that I really didn’t understand the word ‘culture’. I went the first 18 years of my life without really understanding what culture is, at least from the perspective that this experience has taught me to (Disclaimer: this is my personal definition of culture and identity, not to be applied to culture as a whole. I’m an Anthropologist, I realize the nebulous-ness of this debate).

The problem stems from the fact that I was raised in the same house, with the same people, in the same neighborhood for my entire childhood. I thought that everyone ate dinner at the same time, everyone ate the same food, everyone had the same general values. At least in America. Eventually I learned this was not the case but it did not sink in. I did not have the opportunity to fully comprehend the differences between cultures until I was physically thrown out of my culture and into someone else’s.

Which was possibly the best experience I’ve ever had. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Truer words have never been written down. Admittedly political correctness acknowledges the rudeness of the quote, but the unbiased truth still stands. Learning and living in places where people’s world views are different, sometimes entirely so, from my own has forced me to see that culture is not just American – it is French, Italian, Japanese, Egyptian, and all the other nations of the world. Culture is distinct and wonderful wherever you go. People are different. Culture is a facet and a way to sum up those societal, political, and economic differences.

It was an important lesson to learn. It is also impossible to adequately describe another’s culture. I can’t even adequately describe my own and I’ve been living in it for twenty one years. Culture is internal as much as it is external. I hope to eventually be able to share my experiences in other cultures, but first I feel like I need to meditate and mentally dissect everything that I’ve experienced. I’m even mentally dissecting things right now. I’m still figuring things out as I go along, which is good because you never stop learning.

-Megan Nishida

Ireland at a Glance

Greetings all!

My first impression of Ireland is ‘wild’. Not wild as in cool, but almost feral, though that might be a bit too strong. Everything man-made in Ireland, from its buildings, to its sidewalks, to its urban landscape is constantly being reclaimed by nature. Reclaimed, or maybe absorbed is the right word. There’s a harmony in effect, between humanity and this vast land that it has inhabited for thousands of years. I completely understand why myth and cultural knowledge is so prevalent here. And it is beautiful. If Montana is ‘untamed’ then Ireland is ‘wild’.

But metaphysical ramblings aside, Ireland is grand. They say that here – grand, instead of good or great. For all that they say Western Europe is similar to America in terms of world view, there are some noticeable differences. Not that that’s a bad thing, its just fun to stop and realize once in a while that you’re in a foreign country. For me, who, before this, had never been outside the United States and Canada, I like to be reminded everyday that I’m a world away. It puts things in perspective.

University College Cork is still a college though. I still go to classes, meet up with friends, study, write essays. But there are some fun differences. For one, the student government is a lot more present here. Apparently campaigns are really big. Not just elections, but campaigns to get things changed. It can be something serious like the fight for marriage equality to something silly, like trying to get the Cadbury Wispa candybar reinstated (they succeeded by the way and everyone here is really proud of that fact). In Montana, no matter how much Americans are very proud of their 1st Amendment right to assemble and petition however they like, we don’t do things like that. I remember one instance in my time at UM when there was an actual assembly to students to protest something. Maybe it says something about our attitudes towards protesters. I don’t know and I cannot judge on this, but I think the difference is something that might be worth looking into, especially for us in GLI.

I really love it here though, especially the archaeology. There’s just so much of it! And the Archaeology Department is grand with good people. All in all, I’m really glad I’m in Cork, Ireland.