Higher Education: Globalized

Countries such as China, India, and South Korea have been sending an ever increasing number of students to America as international students to study in undergraduate and graduate universities. Asian international students compose more than 10% of enrollments at institutions of higher education in the US. Students in foreign countries such as those listed above compete with each other to get in better institutions in the United States instead of applying for universities back at home. The idea that the West is the land of opportunities has been deeply engrained in the minds of millions of students across the globe. Thus, these international students receive excellent GPA’s in school and are heavily involved in extra curricular activities in order to stand out from the thousands of mainland USA applicants.

After graduating from an undergraduate program at an Ivy League school in the US, one can say it is definitely easier to get a higher paying, more prestigious job when students return back to their home countries. Because the names of these Ivy Leagues are heavily associated with smart, extraordinary, and admirable connotations, students are more likely to be even more respected by their peers than those who graduated in universities in their home countries.

Globalization has definitely impacted pop cultural and political/economic factors throughout the world, and education is no exception. Getting educated abroad is considered a privilege and has been proven to be extremely advantageous to the student in their future careers.

Plastic Surgery to Look More Western

The spread of Western culture throughout the globe is undeniable, and people around the world enjoy America music, food, etc. Thus, it comes as no surprise when other cultures begin to adopt America’s definition of beauty: having a high, pointy nose, double eyelids, big eyes, and a slim figure. In Seoul, Korea, one in five Korean women have had plastic surgery, ranging from nose jobs to breast implants.

The media in Korea may be the most influential factor that encourages women to get work done: on initial impression, one would believe that most Korean women are attractive and slim, with big eyes and high noses. However, after closer observation, it can be said that it looks like the same face has been copied and pasted on different bodies. Several months ago, pictures of the candidates of Miss Korea 2013 became a hot topic on Reddit. One of the users created a gif of these candidates to point out that all of them looked extremely similar. Some found the gif hilarious, while others took the topic seriously, discussing the pros and cons of plastic surgery.

miss korea

As important it is to feel comfortable in one’s own skin, Korean society has made it harder for people to not succumb to the standard of beauty. Large corporate jobs often favor candidates who have studied abroad in the U.S, and all job applications in Korea require a head-shot of the applicant. Those who look more attractive have a higher possibility of getting hired.

In the past, plastic surgery was a topic people shy-ed away from: those who had work done would generally avoid the topic. Nowadays, plastic surgery is openly discussed and talked about, especially in Korean society. Students who graduate high school or college would receive plastic surgery graduation gifts from their parents. During graduation season, plastic surgery clinics would release “packages” that would include a nose job and a double eyelid job for a certain price to encourage parents to purchase. Even now, there are people who are against getting work done, saying that it is unnatural and wrong to artificially alter one’s face. However, plastic surgery has also made the unreachable reachable: the Korean standard of beauty can be achieved by anyone as long as they have the money and time to receive surgery.

Along with so many other discussions on whether or not the influence of Western culture has made positive or negative impacts on other cultures, the discussion of beauty is a controversial one.

Emma You Are Next

Emma Watson & Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General)

Emma Watson, better known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films, recently made a speech about the launch of a new HeForShe campaign in front of the United Nations, voicing her concerns about the role of men in the fight towards gender equality. This campaign launch was one of her most publicized events since being appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador six months ago. In her speech, she asks, “How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation [of feminism]? Men – I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.” As the word “feminism” has gradually been associated with more and more uncomfortable connotations, she states that “Apparently, I am among the ranks of women whose expression are seen as too strong, ‘too aggressive’, isolating and anti-men, unattractive, even.” Numerous news outlets applauded Watson’s efforts in supporting the movement for gender equality in an intelligent and mature matter, and some even stated that she was a “stellar example of acting on feminism that Hollywood so desperately needs”.

However, just hours after her speech, she was targeted by online trolls that threatened to leak her nude photos.

The emmayouarenext.com page also featured the logo of 4chan, a site that was rumored to have hosted the leak of two naked celebrity photos, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian. Late last month, a user on 4chan leaked nude and revealing photos of multiple female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Lea Michele, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Hope Solo, just to list a few. This leak, which was considered the biggest celebrity nude photo leak of 2014, was just the beginning: there was an additional round 2 that happened later in September, targeting Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Rihanna, Kate Bosworth, Mary-Kate Olsen, Avril Lavigne, and others.

The scariest part of these photo leaks is the fact that these images were instantly accessible, widely available, downloaded, viewed, and shared by the Internet community the second they were released. These women’s most intimate and private photos were hacked by some complete stranger through the Internet, and despite the legal actions they will be taking against this hacker, the damage has been done. As if Hollywood hasn’t done a good enough job objectivities these celebrities, these photos made them utterly vulnerable to the power of the Internet.

Of course, the digital age has done a great deal to this generation, but at the same time it has made us, the users, ever more exposed and defenseless to the cyber world. Perhaps the Internet has given more say and power to the individual, enabling us to express our feelings and emotions through online forums and discussion boards, but this scandal may be a reminder to all of us of the power of the Internet.

Anna (Eun Seo) Kim