In this course I have began to learn the difficulties of navigating intercultural interactions. Globalization is defined by Rennen and Marten as a “co-evolution” of “technological, cultural, economic, social, and environmental trends.” It has been very difficult to think about globalization while working in a setting that it designed to replicate a globalized setting of intercultural groups. There are cultural differences between the United States and the Netherlands that have been difficult to work around, not to mention the time zone difference. For example, there is only a short amount of time that we can actually meet with our teammates, and it is very difficult to coordinate projects with a limited amount of actual conversations over google hangouts. In addition, there were many miscommunications, such as when we were trying to divide the work, figure out when to meet, or actually send in our work. There were times when we wouldn’t communicate and I wouldn’t know what roles my group members were taking on to complete our projects. There was another time when we were confused about when to meet and unfortunately the American students in my group missed a meeting. Although these are simple issues, it is still very difficult to take a course that is mostly group work when half of your team is overseas. Furthermore, there are different expectations between American and Dutch students. In my understanding, Dutch students are rewarded for creativity and thinking outside the box despite the project directions. American students are penalized for not meeting the expectations. These are two different methods of learning, and it was interesting working with group members who had such a different approach to completing assignments.
The assignments that we had to complete in this course were very different than I have ever had to do before. Before this course, I had never heard the term, “photo essay,” I had always considered an essay to be written. Our photo essay was one of the most difficult assignments in this class. What is or isn’t globalization is very subjective, and I in particular struggled to articulate why I considered some photos, such as those of the metro and the sculpture, to be evidence of globalization in a way that was clear. This was the same struggle I had with my blog posts. Although I felt as though I was learning, I struggled articulating my thoughts and this was reflected in my grades.
Obviously, globalization and intercultural communication go hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other. In my opinion, globalization, or “intercultural coevolution” would not exist without intercultural communication, and intercultural communication has been facilitated through the globalization of technology, culture, economics, society, and environmental issues. An example of this is our ability in the United States to communicate with people in the Netherlands using technology. Since technology is connecting us, it is an example of globalization. Globalization is complex because it has affected every aspect of our lives, such as the clothes we wear that have been made overseas, or the foods we eat which are influenced by other cultures. Intercultural communication is complex because when working with people of other cultures you have to ask more questions and be specific in order to make sure that you are all on the same page. I experienced this when communicating with my team members, I had to ask additional questions to ensure that we were all on the same page.
The first timeline we made as a team required lots of work and it was honestly confusing and difficult to decide what we should or should not include, because everyone had different schedules and times to work on it and also we were still trying to figure out how best to communicate and collaborate on such a project. Furthermore, we have slightly different views on the world. For example, my group members saw more evidence of globalization through wars than I did, and I was forced to look at war as a method of globalization in a way that I previously had not. Overall, this experience widened my perspective, and it did prove to me that globalization is not the same for everybody. As difficult as the first timeline was, the most recent timeline was much more difficult. During this project, my team had a miscommunication and three of our group members, myself included, missed a meeting about our project over the weekend. This made it much more difficult to make our timeline, and it was frustrating because although we are a group, everyone was forced to work individually which was not ideal. This also shows that communication is the most important part of intercultural collaboration. This instance was definitely eye opening for me about the importance of clear communication and planning ahead. These things are necessary in globalized settings, because without communication and a plan it is difficult to accomplish our goals. This reinforced my belief that communication is the most important part of successful intercultural collaboration.
The advice that I would give to future global village students is to focus on communication and make plans ahead of time. This will seem like a lot- and it is- but you will have no chance of success without it. If you do not go into a meeting or class without a plan or without communicating, you will be lost and you will have lots of trouble completing your work. This has been a very challenging course, and I have learned a lot about globalization this semester, and I would say that it is very difficult to work with an intercultural team doing lots of group work and planning and communication are crucial. I can use this knowledge going forward in other courses and in the future living in a globalized world.