Cross-Cultural Marketing Studies is the title of my program which is made up of marketing, psychology, anthropology, sociology and Spanish. I have created this major for myself in hopes of working in the study abroad field when I graduate. I was inspired to create this program for myself from my love for the humanities and from the three study abroad experiences that I had during my time at Plymouth State. I went to New Orleans, Spain and Costa Rica, all of which made its mark on my life. I hope to help others to have similar life changing experiences as well.
This semester I researched food culture in the United States and in Costa Rica. I took the knowledge and experience that I gained from my time living in Central America and did research in order to dive deeper into the backstory of their culture. It was in interesting journey comparing the two cultures, seeing the similarities and the differences. Here is my RA.
For my applied project I did an Instagram project called #PSUHumansOfEarth. Each day for the month of April I posted someone’s story about an impactful travel experience that they had, along with some pictures. The purpose of this project was to inspire people, especially young people, to get out and explore the world. By the end of the project I was able to get a variety of different perspectives incorporated in this.
Here are a couple of my favorites from the project.
Over the course of the semester I have been working on my Personal Learning Network which is what I have used for Twitter for. I was able to use Twitter to communicate with my peers as well as learn more about all aspects of my major, such as travel, study abroad, anthropology, marketing and business.
I certainly used Twitter the most when I was sharing my applied project. Everyday for the month of April I shared one person’s travel or cross-cultural experience on my personal Instagram account. I took my favorite part of their response, a few pictures, and a link to the specific post and I tweeted in order to add to my PLN.
The other part of my mostly PLN was retweeting what I found interesting, whether it be an interesting travel post, an inspiring quote, or something from the Interdisciplinary Studies department. There was a wide range of things that I tweeted over the course of the semester, however my favorite tweet was when I said that I was disappointed that could not study abroad again since I am graduating, and AIFS tweeted back to me! And the CEO of the company favorited my tweet! It was wonderful to have them respond to my tweet since that is the field that I hope to be working eventually.
I have seen the how powerful and useful a PLN can be when it is used right. All you have to do is tweet out a question and your network will respond within seconds when a robust PLN has been made. I have also seen that it is challenging to create something that powerful in a matter of a few months. In order to have a PLN this strong I would have to continue to network and be active on twitter. I would have to work for it, as it is something I create and not something that I am given.
During my first semester of my senior year in college, I studied and lived in Costa Rica for four months. In this time, I experienced many cultural differences between life in the United States and Costa Rica, but there was one aspect that really intrigued me the most; Food. I found it fascinating how people in Costa Rica and people in the United States both required the same components of nutrition, but both eat completely different diets. Here, I will be discussing the cultural differences in both diet and cuisine in the United States as well as Costa Rica.
Considering the fact that food is an important aspect of culture in all societies, it would probably be best to start with the definition of culture. According to Bryant, DeWalt, Courtney and Schwartz (2003), “the potential we have to share patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that arise from social interaction with other people.” It is clear to say that based on that definition, culture can look very different from one society to another. This includes food, food preparation, manners, and traditions. Each society has a different history, which is why culture has evolved into something unique from all other places around the world.
Culture is something that is fluid and always evolving. There are many components and layers to it. An example that proves this is how two different cultures could eat almost identical foods on a daily basis whereas their religions could be nothing alike. Both of these groups of people have similarities but are two different cultures since they have two different ways of thinking.
When discussing cultural aspects of food, it is common for people to misuse the word ‘diet,’ by saying something along the lines of, “I am going on a diet,” and meaning that they are trying to lose weight. However this is not entirely true. According to Bryant, DeWalt, Courtney, and Schwartz(2003) the definition of diet is “the actual foods that individuals or groups consume to meet their nutrient needs.”
Although it is true that when someone is trying to lose weight they are on a diet, but everyone must be on a diet in order to live. What that person means to say is that they are changing their diet in hopes of losing weight. Diet is simply the foods that are eaten to keep our bodies functioning.
The term ‘diet’ is one that is more on the scientific side, whereas the term ‘cuisine’ is used when referring to the cultural side of things. According to Bryant, DeWalt, Courtney, & Schwartz (2003) the definition of cuisine is, “foods, food preparation techniques, and taste preferences that are shared but the member of a group of people.” This means this cuisine has more “personality” to the food, whereas diet is more of what one is eating at its purest form. So although the two terms ‘diet’ and ‘cuisine’ are very similar, they cannot be used interchangeably.
When discussing the differences in foods in the United States and foods in Costa Rica, it is important to remember that the common diets of people living in these countries are made up of different cuisines. Both in which have different anthropological, sociological, historical and geographical reasons to them, to which I will be discussing in this paper.
Finally, diet is part of what defines us as people. According to Kaplan(2012), “A diet expresses ethnic, religious and class identification; it prescribed gender roles; it is embodied in rituals and manners; and it relates directly to our aspiration to perfect ourselves.” With that being said, food is more than just food, It defines a large part of who people are within their societies. Each of these components must be taken into consideration when pondering the diets of both Americans and Costa Ricans.
It can be common for people to be so involved with their own culture that they are unaware of the fact that their behaviors are in fact a part of their culture, and not a universal behavior. An example of this is America’s love for pizza. Pizza is always a safe choice to offer at any kind of party because a majority of the people at the party will enjoy pizza, however in many other countries around the world, pizza would not be so typical, or even standard, to have at a party. According to Mantanari (2006) “The organ of taste in not the tongue, but the brain, a culturally (and therefore historically) determinant organ through which are transmitted and learned the criteria for evaluations.” This quote just further supports the fact that people’s prefered foods and flavors have come to be based on the people and the habits that you have been surrounded with, instead of a innate, predetermined set of prefered flavors that we are born with.
A personal example that I experienced of not being aware of something that was a part of my own culture, was when I went to the movie theater in Costa Rica. While waiting in line at the concession stand, I was caught off guard when I saw the nachos. Every time that I have gone to the movie theater in the United States, I had seen nachos with a cheese sauce. However when I was in Costa Rica at the movie theater I saw that nachos had bean dip in place of the usual cheese sauce. I remember finding it amusing that Costa Ricans eat beans with everything, and the fact that it never crossed my mind that there is no “standard” way to eat nachos at a movie theater.
In present days Costa Rica, a main component of their diet is rice and beans. Just the same as other aspects of culture, there is a historical reason behind why this is a staple in their diet. According to Presten-Werner(2009) unlike beans, rice was not a crop that was natively grown in the Americas. This means that it would not have become an important part of the diet until after Christopher Columbus would arrive arrive, and the Spanish conquest began. Research shows that although cultivation of the grain began as early as 1789, it would not be until the 1800s when African slaves arrived that rice would become part of the typical Costa Rican diet.
Considering the fact that I lived in Costa Rica for an extended period of time, I was exposed to the common foods that people ate. What I observed was that there was hardly any variation in the diets of Costa Ricans. With few exceptions, people eat the same few dishes from day to day.
Since there was a limited variety in the dishes that were eaten, by locals, there is only a short list of signature Costa Rica meals. The number one most common dish that would be found with every meals regardless of the main course is some variety of rice and beans. For breakfast, gallo pinto is eaten everyday of the week, which is rice and beans mixed into one dish. Whereas for lunch and dinner, rice and beans are served as two different sides, still served together.
Continuing on, the the Costa Rican version of a salad consists of lettuce, carrot and tomato. Another common side dish is plantain which is a fruit that looks like a banana, but tastes more like a potato. Plantains are commonly stir fried on a stove top and slightly sweetened, or they can be baked to taste more similar to a potato. They can also be fried and turned into chips. Empanadas are another regularly eaten food, which is fried dough filled with chicken, beef, or potato. Yuca has a similar taste to potato, and is cooked in a similar way whether mashed or in the form of fries. These dishes are typically eaten with a small piece of chicken, or fried fish. Lastly, a big component of their diet is the large variety of fruit. There are many fruits that are only grown in Costa Rica, and in abundance. This means that there are many different varieties of fruit juices that people drink regularly. A few examples of popular fruits are bananas, mango, pineapple, guava, Maracuyá, and star fruit, just to name a few. Also, coffee beans grow best in warm places like Costa Rica so coffee is always a common drink, according to Kittler, P. G., & Suche(2004).
Considering the sheer size of the United States alone, it is clear to say that the diets of people across the country ranges vastly. Beyond that though the United States is an overall more diverse place, in almost every aspect, than Costa Rica. In turn this means that by default people will be eating different foods from one another. With both of those things being said, each region, and even each state, has its own staple foods that it is known for.
The diet of one person to the next varys tremendously more than it does in Costa Rica. Although there are a few dishes that people tend to think of as being authentically American such as pizza, macaroni and cheese, and french fries for example, these are only a small part of the description of what Americans eat from day to day, according to Kittler, & Sucher (2004). It is so challenging to describe what typical foods are in America, since the country is such a melting pot. Historically, people have come from all different parts of the world and all different cultures. This means that they have different habits, lifestyles, preferences, and priorities. Therefore, the diets of Americans ranges hugly, from bodybuilders who have restricting, nutrient dense meal plans that they must follow in order to obtain the physique that they desire, to busy hard working people that eat fast food as many of their meals since they may not have the time to cook for themselves.
From what I have been discussing in the previous paragraphs, I have chosen to delve into the health and nutritional side of these two countries diets. From the research that I have done, I will create a hypothesis on the causes of a few strengths and weaknesses of each country.
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has provided Costa Rica with some general guidelines to follow in order to maintain a nutrient dense diet. This nutrition information has been provided by various government ministries, the national nutrition institute, and the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama. However there is limiting information provided on the website.
The bulk of the message on the website is as following, “Costa Rica uses the healthy eating circle, which is divided into four food groups: cereals, legumes and starchy vegetables; vegetables and fruits; animal-source foods; fats and sugars. Water and images of physical activity are placed outside of the circle.” Following that there is a list of eleven rules that people should follow in order to maintain a healthy diet. The first few on the list are as follows,
A diet is healthy when it is varied, hygienic, and natural.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Eat rice and beans; they are the basis of the everyday diet.
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables of different colours every day.
Although many of these points seem to be helpful for a person that is attempting to improve their wellness, compared to the nutrition recommendations that the United States has advised its citizen to live by, it is lacking many aspects of nutrition.
The United States of America has provided its citizens with a robust resource explaining what the diet of a healthy person should look like. It goes into great detail about nearly any components of nutrition, such as, oils, sugars, fats, trans fats, alcohol, sodium, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. These are what the recommended daily nutrients should look like.
According to health.gov, Americans are not consuming many of the dietary guidelines. “About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils,” and “Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.” This improper diet of Americans is likely directly correlated to the high percentage of overweight Americans. See the graph health.gov has.
It is fascinating that with having the intention of providing everyone with an equitable resource regarding nutrition, there is such a high percentage of Americans that are not following it whatsoever. Health.gov shows some graphs. It is a relatively well known fact that the United States has the most unhealthy diet in comparison to the rest of the world. Based on my observation from being in Costa Rica for four months, I noted that there were much fewer people that were morbidly obese. Unlike in the United States. In the United States, it is likely that seeing many morbidly obese people is quite common. The U.S is also notorious for having a wide range of body shapes and sizes. However, in Costa Rica, there was a much more common trend among the appearance of people’s looks, at least in physical health. Men were fairly short, and very skinny. Whereas woman generally were closer to the average American female height, but nearly all of the woman had the same build, being slightly overweight and carrying the weight in their midsection. I saw only a handful of severely overweight people.
After doing research and thinking back on my observations, I cannot help but think that the observable eating habits of Americans and the observable eating habits of Costa Ricans have a direct correlation to the overall wellness of each population. The American diet varies tremendously from region to region, and even more so from person to person. It is also true to say that health and wellness of Americans ranges nearly as much as the eating habits. Whereas both the eating habits, and the health and wellness of Costa Ricans is much more similar throughout the country.
After experiencing life in Costa Rica, I have learned that people behave in certain ways for specific reasons. Taking all of my biases with me as an American down to Costa Rica forced me to step back and question my own instinctual behaviors. Although culture can be changed, often times people do not realize that it is something that they do not pick. If the culture that one was raised in is having unhealthy eating habits, then they will continue with that habit as they as the progress through life, unless they make the conscious decisions to change their daily habits. As wellness and eating habits continue to be analyzed, it is crucial that people remember that eating habits are a part of a society and become ingrained in us. The individual person should not entirely be blamed for their habits. People are a part of something larger than themselves that they do not even realize many times, and they may not have the knowledge or resources to be able to maker the right choices for themselves. If people want real change to be made, it must be made by changing the bigger picture, instead of within a single person.
Overall, the culture that a society has built around food appears to be directly correlated to the health and wellness of that society. With Costa Rica being fairly small, and having more of a commonly widespread culture, the wellness of the people are more similar. This correlation also holds true for the diversity that the United States has in all aspects, including our diet. With such a diverse diet among people, there is also a wide range of people who live healthier lifestyles, as well as people who live unhealthy lifestyles. If the culture around food could change in a positive way, then the United States as whole would be able to change and have healthier lifestyles.
Here is the link to one of my blog posts from studying abroad.
Montanari, M. (2006). Food is culture. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Bryant, C. A., DeWalt, K. M., Courtney, A., & J. Schwartz (2003). The cultural feast an introduction to food and society. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.
Kittler, P. G., & Sucher, K. (2004). Food and culture (Fourth Edition ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning.
Kaplan, D. M. (2012). The philosophy of food. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
(2018). Costa Rica. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
Arias, L. (2016, March 24). Costa Rican diet includes too much salt, processed food, experts say. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
Monge-Rojas, R. (2017, February 06). Costa Rica. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
(April 30). Chapter 2 Shifts Needed To Align With Healthy Eating Patterns. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
Preston-Werner, T. (2009). “Gallo Pinto”: Tradition, Memory, and Identity in Costa Rican Foodways. Journal of American Folklore, 122(483), 11. doi:10.2307/20487644
#PSUHumansOfEarth was the Instagram project that I chose to do for my applied project. Everyday for the month of April I shared a different person’s travel experience, or other kind of cultural exchange experience. I did this in hopes of inspiring others to be curious about new cultures and to get to know people a little better.
This project relates to my major because it is about culture, which is one aspect of Anthropology. With the wide variety of experiences that people shared, this also falls under sociology. Additionally, I used many of the marketing skills that I have learned in my classes to create an Instagram campaign, so this falls under the marketing aspect of my major as well.
With my three study abroad experiences that I was fortunate enough to have during my undergrad, I hope to be able to work in the study abroad field after college. This project allowed me to express my passion for study abroad, while being able to practice the business skills that I have learned. I enjoyed working on this project because I was able to connect with people who have also had life changing experiences that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
To get the project started, I drafted an email filled with thirteen questions about travel or some kind of cultural exchange. “What is the hardest part about traveling?” and “Tell me about a time that you learned a life lesson while being in a new culture?” were two examples of questions that I asked.
In the beginning stages of this project it was fun for the people who sent me their responses quickly, and for me. They were very excited about the project, and for the opportunity to be able to share their experiences on social media to my network. My network is mostly made up of young people who are either currently in college, or high school that have the opportunity to study abroad. I hope to reach them specifically so they can see how powerful international experiences can be.
As the end of May was approaching, it became more of a challenge to get responses from people. Of course I had to complete this project, so I learned quickly how to improvise. So there were a couple of days that I had to ask a few people that may not have fit the criteria perfectly in order to make a post.
Overall the project turned out well and based on the fact that I got many likes on the post, I would say that many of my followers enjoyed the project as well. I hope that I have inspired many people to become more curious and open minded! It was great to share all of these life lessons with my friends and family, and anyone that may stumble across my project. I hope people will challenge themselves to try next experiences.
For my research article, I have decided to research food in Costa Rica and in the United States. Some topics that I will cover is how cultures have chosen their food, how they prepare it, how it has evolved, table manners, nutrition, all of which I will research how they change, or remain static, over time.
One book that I have chosen for my research is Food is Culture. In this text is a historical view of how throughout time, humans how viewed and used food in different ways depending on which culture one is from. This text will help support my research in how humans how culturally evolved with food, from a historical standpoint.
“Cooking is the human activity par excellence: it is the act that transforms a product “from nature” into something profoundly different.” P.29.
Montanari, M. (2006). Food is culture. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Another book that I have chosen for my research is The Cultural Feast. Within this text is an anthropological perspective of how humans view and use food in different cultures. This text will help support my research in how globally, humans view and use food.
“Culture has a pervasive influence on human diet; it affects what we eat, when we eat, how we prepare our food, and with whom we share it.” P.86.
Bryant, C. A., DeWalt, K. M., & Courtney, A. (2009). The cultural feast an introduction to food and society. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.
Food and Culture is another book that I have chosen for my research. Within this book is an anthropological perspective of how people view and use food, but this text reads different regions of the world and their specific cultural eating norms.
“Food as self-expression is especially evident in the experience of dining out. Researchers suggest that restaurants often serve more than food, satisfying both emotional and physical needs.” P.3.
Kittler, P. G., & Sucher, K. (2004). Food and culture (Fourth Edition ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning.
The Philosophy of Food is a text that I have chosen which will support my research in an anthropological sense. This text tackles many different aspects of food, from taste and safety to hunger.
“It also involves a kind of shaping, which lifts the human form above the level of animal life, so as to become fully human, fully sociable, and fully self-aware.” P.25.
Kaplan, D. M. (2012). The philosophy of food. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
From this website, Business Insider shows what the most American foods are. This will be very helpful for me as I begin to talk about the specifics of what American cuisine actually is. The images provided will also be helpful.
Lutz, A. (2013, July 04). The 25 Most American Foods Of All Time. Retrieved May 03, 2018
This post by NPR includes details on the popular culture of Arab food in Detroit. This is an interesting example of the many varying food cultures that are in the United States.
Guzman, M. (2017, August 23). In Michigan, Museum Food Tours Offer Tastes Of Arab Culture.
This article posted by NPR is an interesting one to discuss when talking about what is available in Costa Rican grocery stores, and comparing it to what the United States has to offer. Interesting perspective from an economic perspective.
“Grocery stores in America have changed from neighborhood corner markets to multimillion-dollar chains that sell convenience”
Dalrymple, L. (2017, May 15). Grocery Stores: ‘The Best Of America And The Worst Of America’.
This is the source that I am using to show what the official recommended diet is for Costa Ricans. This is coming from the United Nations to the people of Costa Rica. This is from a political perspective
“Costa Rica uses the healthy eating circle, which is divided into four food groups: cereals, legumes and starchy vegetables; vegetables and fruits; animal-source foods; fats and sugars.”
(2018). Costa Rica. Retrieved April 4, 2018
This is the official recommendation that the USDA has put out for Americans in order to have a nutrient based diet and healthy lifestyle. This is a political perspective.
“ A history of poor eating and physical activity patterns have a cumulative effect and have contributed to significant nutrition- and physical activity-related health challenges that now face the U.S. population.”
(n.d.). Food and Nutrition. Retrieved May 03, 2018
This article specifically talks about some nutrition and diet issues that are currently going on in Costa Rica. This article is from a nutrition standpoint.
“Industrially processed foods and drinks and fast food are displacing more traditional, nutritious diets across the Americas”
Arias, L. (2016, March 24). Costa Rican diet includes too much salt, processed food, experts say.
After much consideration for what I am going to do my applied project and research project on, I have come to a consensus. I have decided to combine the Marketing, Anthropology, Sociology and Spanish into my applied project and into my research article. Here is the outline and my vision for both my project and my research.
For my applied project, I have decided to do an Instagram campaign and I will call it #PSUHumansOfEarth. Within this campaign, I will post once per day for the entire month of April from my personal Instagram account. Each post will include a different person’s cultural exchange experience that had a profound impact on their life. I will be reaching out to students who are currently studying abroad and students who have already come back from studying abroad. I will be asking them to provide pictures, and a statement about their experience, whether it be able what they would tell other students, or what their favorite part is.
I have chosen to do this project because of how popular social media is in 2018. I see this project as a great opportunity to inspire others to travel, and to get to know people that are from all different parts of the world, or even country.
Plymouth State University is not the most diverse place, however the United States overall is tremendously diverse. With that being said, it is critical that Americans understand diversity, and I am choosing this project with the hopes that the marketing of people with incredible stories will have people become more interested in the world that we live in, and to make people to become more compassionate beings.
This project truly capsules the major that I have created for myself, as well as the field that I hope to work in upon graduation. This will allow me to utilize the marketing techniques that I have learned into a project that will inspire others to go out and learn about other cultures. Also, as I work my way toward the study abroad field, this is the exact type of work that I hope to be doing.
March 15th-I will have created a list of questions that I will be asking people to answer. I will have an email ready to send to people that are willing to be a part of my project.
March 20th- I will reach out to people that I personally know that have traveled to see if they are interested in me posting about them.
March 25th- I will send out all of the emails with the questions, asking to have them in within the next week.
March 30th- Edit the responses and format them so that they are ready to be posted on Instagram.
April- Start the month off with an introduction post, and post once per day with inspiring stories.
May 12th- Publish the completed project to my eport.
I am excited to reach out and learned about many different study away experiences that students have had, and to use different social media strategies. I look forward to seeing what I can learn from my different passions.
As for my research article, I have decided to compare the American diet to the Costa Rican diet. While I was studying in Costa Rica, it really intrigued me how eating was different than it was back home in the United States. So I am curious to find cultural differences between the two countries.
In order to stay on track for this project I have created a timeline for myself to follow:
March 19th: This week I will find all of my sources from online as well as books from the library documentaries, interviews, ect.
March 26th: At this time I will start writing the first draft of my essay
April 20th: By this time I will have my entire first draft completed
April 23rd: I will go to the Writing Center and have them review what I have completed.
April 27th: I will add in final details, such as pictures, videos and make final touches.
May 4th: Visit the Writing Center one last time.
May 12th: Deadline. Have everything completed.
With both my research article and applied project planned out, I now have a clear plan of what I am going to do and how I will follow through with that plan to be successful. It is exciting seeing the different components of my interdisciplinary education, as well as all of my passions, come together into one capstone. I look forward to seeing what the final product turns out to be.
To wrap up my college education, in which I have designed to be my own, I am doing an applied project, as well as a research project. In order to decide what each of these tasks are going to be, I first need to brainstorm ideas. At the very beginning of this process I had no idea where to begin. This is why I am brainstorming in this article.
With my major being Cross-Cultural Marketing Studies, it was challenging for me to decide what direction I wanted to go in. As I asked people for suggestions they were quick to suggest a project that was largely marketing based ideas. However, the direction that I hope to go in is more of a culturally focused direction, while using some of the marketing techniques that I have learned in my classes, instead of being vice versa. Regardless, here are some ideas that I have come up with:
In April, there will be an event being put on called Global Village. This event is going to be a cultural event that is intended to help educate the plymouth community on other cultures around the world that could be very different from how people here in Plymouth live. Getting involved in this could be a good way for me to use all of the different skills and knowledge that I have learned in my previous course work.
Another idea that I have thought of is making a brochure for students that are about to study abroad. Since I have studied abroad 4 times, I certainly have insight from both my major and my experiences abroad.
Something else that I am considering doing is taking over the Instagram account in the Global Engagement Office and posting about students experiences studying abroad to market to other students.
I could also become some kind of a mentor for students in any point of their study abroad application process. I could help them decide if studying abroad is right for them, what location is best for them, what to pack, some tips and tricks, ect.
Lately, I could start a blog about my experiences abroad, tips and tricks for students, the benefits of studying abroad, ect.
My research project has been just as challenging, if not more, to come up with a topic that I want to research. A few ideas that I gave come up with so far have been:
Why is there such a difference in how Americans view food compared to how Costa Ricans view food?
Why are so many American college students, specifically, so nervous about leaving the country?
Is studying abroad beneficial to students in their academics, professional development, and/or personal lives?
Why is the majority of study abroad students female?
What have tobacco companies done to be successful in continuing to get people to use tobacco products, around the world, even though the health risks are well known?
Truly, my options for research and a project are endless. But here is a short list of a few things that I have thought about as options for me to put the different components of my major together. I am excited to see what the final product will look like in the end.
Monday, February 9th, 2012 sometime between 10 and 11 am is when I learned how not to use a car steering wheel. It was exactly one week after my fifteenth birthday, and it was just minutes after my third and final attempt at passing my learners permit test. The previous two attempts were failed attempts due to missing only one too many questions.
My father had decided that it would be best for him to drive his truck home from the DMV, since I had no prior driving experience at all. This was disappointing of course, but I couldn’t stay mad because after all I had my permit, so I would be driving soon enough. So my dad made the ten minute drive from the DMV to the Stewart’s gas station in my town to fill up his gas tank.
After he finished pumping the gas he opened the door and asked, “Hey Lynds, wanna drive home?” Oh boy did I ever want to make that 72 second drive from Main Street down to Clarendon Ave. So I hopped out of the passenger side and ran to the drivers side door.
Dad had coached me through it all. I did exactly what he said. I made sure I could see out of all the mirrors, I turned the key and heard his green Toyota Tacoma start. This was the most exciting moment of my life.
I put my foot on the break and put it in drive. I slowly lifted my foot off the break, and we were moving. I braked at the edge of the parking lot to look for oncoming cars before pulling into traffic. I was so happy that I forgot about the other two times I had failed my permit test.
Everything was going great. I put my blinker on to take the left turn onto Clarendon Avenue, and headed for home. As my mailbox came into sight I put my right blinker on and turned right.
I turned right just like they do in movies. My hands went from “ten and two” to “one and five,” and without touching my foot to the break. The hill that my house sits on came rushing toward the truck, and since I did not cut the corner sharp enough, I realized that I had made a great mistake.
Not being familiar enough with the vehicle to realize which pedal was gas and which was the break, I pressed the pedal on the right hoping to stop the truck. Quickly I discovered my second mistake, so I decided to quickly try the pedal on the left. Both me and my dad jerked toward the front of the truck as the vehicle suddenly came to a stop on the sidewalk just feet from our mailbox.
I lived, my dad lived and the truck saw no damage. Although the embarrassment still stings every few months every time my dad brings it up to pick on me. I have not been allowed to drive my dad’s truck since February 9th of 2012.
As an interdisciplinarian, I am constantly connecting dots that have not traditionally been connected, like how anthropology and marketing relates to one another in my major. To do this I need to step back and look at the bigger picture and critically think before I act on it. In the exact moment that I almost crashed my dad’s truck, exactly seven days after my fifteenth birthday, it would have been very helpful for me to have done this prior to my almost crashing my dad’s car.
For some reason I thought that if I passed this meager test that I would be able to at least handle a car on the road. If I had thought about it more in depth instead of with just wishful thinking, the situation would have ended differently. This experience solidified the importance of thinking more holistically, and connecting information that may not appear entirely relevant to each other in different situations, and being proactive whenever possible
Interdisciplinarity. How should I know what that is supposed to mean? No one ever talks about it. Before this semester, all I knew was that ‘Interdisciplinary Studies’ meant that I can create my own major. ‘Inter,’ ‘disciplinary,’ it seemed pretty simple if you just broke the word a part, the mixing of disciplines. Well it turns out to be much more than that.
This semester we discussed the many aspects of Interdisciplinarity. Come to find out it is more than ‘just’ creating your own major. It is not unique to only me and my classmates who share this major, but many professional goals are also interdisciplinary. A college admissions counselor, for example, must have some sort of understanding of many different disciplines in order to recruit students for their schools, such as marketing, statistics, writing, psychology, and counseling. Each component is important when trying to bring students into a school and understanding what they want and need. That is what interdisciplinarity is.
I found this course to be unique from every other class that I have ever taken. We don’t use Moodle?! What planet are we on? In this course, for the first time in my academic career, I own my domain instead of my domain owning me. I have created my own website where I post all of the assignments that I have put so much time into. So now I can not only keep the work that I have done, but share it with anyone that has internet. I am used to a system where I do my assignment, hand it in via Moodle, receive a grade, and never see the assignment again.
I would also like to speak to the fact that I have so much power over my education now that I created my own major. I have been able to not only hand select the courses that interest me the most, but I am also able to have my degree be tailored to the career that I am working to have upon graduation. I was able to do this by understanding the bigger picture of how knowledge from different disciplines works together to solve problems. By stepping back and seeing how interdisciplinarity works in the career that I dream of, I was able to also create a college education that is as interdisciplinary as the career that I will one day have.
One of my favorite concepts that we have done over the semester was learning about personal learning networks. A personal learning network is a way to create a circle of professionals that are sharing their knowledge and expertise via the internet somehow. I loved the fact that we were able to tie our Twitter accounts to our education. Many people who are on the internet today have their own PLN for their social life, so it only makes sense for students to create one for their professional life since it is so easy to do so.
Although The concept of interdisciplinarity is a somewhat new concept in higher education, it is not an overall new concept. For centuries, colleges have been teaching courses based on disciplines because that is what made sense for the time period. But with globalisation and the internet, it not longer makes sense to only educate students with a singular discipline. So although it may be obvious to many that a better education system is an interdisciplinary one, colleges are resisting. This threatens the way that they have always done things, and such a drastic change would involve lots of restructuring within the institution. So although it may take some time for institutions to change their education system, the world we live in is becoming more and more interdisciplinary.
With my interdisciplinary degree, being Cross-Cultural Marketing Studies, I hope that people will be able to see the value in combining anthropology and marketing into one degree. Some people are searching for a traditional degree, being from one single discipline. I am hopeful that there will be employers who will be able to see that I was able to think outside the box, to create a major in which I found to be even more valuable than a degree which focuses on one area of study.
I also hope that I will be able to help students to travel the world, and to have the opportunity to learn as much as I have while being outside of their comfort zone. International education is a valuable thing, that few people recognize. So I hope to put my passion to work and help others to have similar experiences that will also change their lives.
For the overall world of interdisciplinarity, I hope that in the near future, it will become a more widely accepted way to get an interdisciplinary education. Although it is not, and should not, be the only way to get a college education, it certainly should be a more common way to do so. I believe that Plymouth is on the right track to doing this with the up and coming clusters. The school is trying to have students from different majors work together on projects to become more interdisciplinary. To me, this makes the most sense since many of the jobs that students will have upon graduation will be interdisciplinary.
Here is a link to a video that CIEE made for the high school study abroad programs, like the one I did in the Dominican Republic! Don’t blink, otherwise you will miss the clip of me laughing in the beginning!(19 seconds in)
After spending a semester gaining so much valuable knowledge, I have been forced to reflect upon all of the lessons that I carry with me everyday and select only two. I have chosen to discuss something that I learned in my Language Acquisition class, and my Death and Dying class. Both of the courses are a part of my general education requirements.
Starting off the year in Language Acquisition, we learned about “the critical period,” which is a key period in human development when humans are learning to speak. This is a time when young children need to be exposed to language and communication. This is such an important time for children, because if they are not exposed to language at this time, they may have fallen behind compared to their peers, and it could potentially affect them for the rest of their lives.
In my Death and Dying class, we started the semester off by reading “On Death and Dying.” In this book, the author interviewed many different terminally ill patients regarding their death. I found this to be especially fascinating because death is something that we call need to face at some point, and yet it is hardly talked about.
These two topics each struck me for different reasons. I found “the critical period” to be extremely interesting for two reasons. One being that I did not realize how much of a difference that parents can have on their children’s lives simply by communicating with them. And the second being that this concept does not apply to the rest of my life.
Although there is a certain time frame that humans must follow in order to understand language, this is not true for lifelong learning. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is nonsense. Humans are one of the most intelligent species, which means that learning is lifelong and does not, and should not, stop once we hit a certain age.
“On Death and Dying” talked about death in ways that are not normally talked about in everyday life because they are taboo. Once main concept, or theme that carried throughout the book was the stages of death. Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. As a person is dying, they go in and out on these stages in no particular order, it depends on how they are viewing their own death.
Every human being will have to face death at the end of their life, and throughout their life. It is hardly talked about, so it can be challenging to prepare for and to face. It does not need to be a sad moment though, it is just a part of the life cycle, and if people talked about it more, it might not be as scary especially if it brought people together in a positive way.
This lesson is something that I do think applies to my everyday life. I learned that death is always there, there is no escaping it. But that does not need to be a scary or lonely thing, it is now just be a reminder to live each day with meaning.
Both of these lessons, although are very different, and come from very different disciplines, are relevant to one another in some ways. We have a limited number of days here on Earth, so it is important to take advantage of this time and learn as much as we can. Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying ; What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy and their own families. New York: The Macmillan Company.