Intercultural Experience

This blog is about my experience as a local student interacting with international students from other countries. Since I have never been to overseas for studies, the things I learn about the worlds’ other cultures would be through books in classrooms, watching the television or the fastest, through the Internet. Apart from work or vacation, as far as I could remember, I have never come across any international student in my study life, even when I was studying diploma in another college.

In my current college, there are a lot of international students who have enrolled here. I personally have known a few students that came from China and Korea. I feel that our cultural backgrounds and lifestyles are somewhat similar, since we share the same “Asian values” in terms of custom, education, marriage or religion. Born as a Malaysian Chinese, I can communicate with those students from China in the same mother tongue.

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Based on Marginson’s “International Education as Self-Formation”, she stated that local students tend to apply ethnocentrism towards international student. This can be relatively true as witnessed in reality; not only within college campus but also in workplaces, in different countries or anywhere, really. This indirectly corresponds to racism. Of course, not everyone does it, but it is not false that most of us undeniably have assumptions towards a particular group of people. The influence of backgrounds with the thoughts and beliefs inculcated into our mindset do play a factor. Subconsciously supposed, we are inclined to feel distinctive from the other person if he or she is biologically physical different than us.

As like what Marginson said, international students are fully prepared to make new friends in a foreign environment. From my point of view, I think Malaysian students are quite friendly and open minded, as we can mix with foreign students pretty well since our country is a multiracial nation in addition with the diversity of food and different cultures, in which are similarly with those in China, Iran, India, etc. Thus, I think it is easy and convenient for International students to accommodate with the local culture. As suggested by Marginson, the use multiplicity or hybridity could be a solution for international students to accommodate with the local culture in terms of linguistic, as most of us can speak native language or mother tongue and also English with each other. In fact, I am actually interested to understand and learn more of their culture for extra knowledge.

  Image: Business Guru Zone

These international students have come so far away from their home to further their studies. Being alone in a foreign land, some may feel like an oddball and awkward as they could not really adapt with the environment immediately yet. What more when they are away from their families. I could understand these feelings as well, since I am living away from my home too. Not only international students, everyone does feel they do not fit in a crowd at some point in their lives. Thus, we should not be discriminating others on the basis of race, ethnic or religion.

Let’s spread love, not hate.

Reference:

Marginson, S (2012) ‘International Education as Self-Formation: Morphing a Profit-Making Business Into an Intercultural Experience’ Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012.

Globalization

Today in this modern world, we live a life mix of cultures, trends, influences and ideas coming from people living in other parts of the world. We came to realize the existence of different languages, social values, cultural practices, racial, ethnicities, religious beliefs and etc. This is the result of globalization. According to the reading by Appadurai in “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”, the five dimensions, compromising of ethnoscape, technoscape, finanscape, mediascape and ideoscape, are among the elements that disjuncture in the global cultural flows. All of these elements are interrelated and coexist with each other.

Within my inner circle, globalization, directly and indirectly, does affect me to some extent. Personally, the biggest impact of globalization towards myself would be technoscape.

Image: SABC

Technoscape, or “configuration of technology” as suggested by Appadurai, can permeably break through any kinds of boundaries. The most evident occurrence is the revolution of the Internet highway, which enormously changes our lives. Contemporary, life is advanced as we are swamped with the high accessibility to the Internet. In addition with the invention of smartphones, it is effortless for people from both ends of the world to reach each other in matter of seconds. The convenience and versatility of a smartphone as a universal device for both work and entertainment is also one of the many reasons people are so “fond” of their smartphones. In my case, I admit that I am seriously too attached to my smartphone. If I don’t check it every now and then, I feel somewhat anxious and disconnected like something is missing. When writing this piece of blog itself, I have checked my phone, timelessly. Especially for the generation today, we have come to an age that it is impossible to live without technology.

  Image: Frits Ahlefeldt

Though, I still find it nostalgic when recalling back my days as a kid, everything I learned about the world was through a textbook or at most, watching the television. Contemporary, it is remarkable that with just a click on the screen, any of your doubts can be answered. This corresponds to the concept of mediascape. With the emergence of technology, information of the latest news is immediacy and can be spread across a larger group of audiences. Through this alternative media, precisely the Internet, it serves as a platform for us to have the privilege to be selective of the channels we are only interested in. Likewise, I prefer to use the Internet too for its speed and the current content in both informational and entertainment channels. Comparatively with the element ideoscape, our thoughts and behaviour can be indisputably influenced by the trends and lifestyle of another country through the channels we access to. About two years or so, I came across a Korean pop song by the band CN Blue. Since that day onwards, it made me hook into the Korean wave (Hallyu). It is fascinating thinking about it, as I never imagined myself to be obsessed to another foreign culture.

  Image: Schaefer

In relation to the concept of etnoscape, people have always been constantly moving ever since back in ancient times. The main obstacles faced at that period would be transportation and time. Adjacent to the modern technology, people can travel fast with ease. In regional scale, there are also people who move out to another state from the place they were born originally in, for various reasons. For example, my parents were both Kelantanese who had moved to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan for work. Whether for studying, working or travelling, shifting to another foreign land is no longer a lucid dream, but a self-realization can be done by anyone.

In this digitalized era, as mentioned by Appadurai, the process of social formations and capital development is accelerating at a rapid space. As the phenomenon of globalization becomes more apparent, it has relatively made the world smaller. In other words, this implicates a higher competitive spectrum too which can shape or change the finanscape of a country. The leverage of technology in a country is one of the factors to exert an impact towards the economy growth. Malaysia, as compared to other developed countries, may not be the major producer of technology, but we are still endowed with various mechanisms in technology. These include the aspect of infrastructure, agriculture, industrial-based sectors, education and etc.

Image: CSR Wire

Today, due to the development of technology, globalization has made more significant than before. With the increasing abundance of wealth, freedom, resources and opportunities can be owned by a certain individual, this leads us to have higher demands and differences in preference.

Reference:

Appadurai, A (2010) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’ Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 27-47.