Living in a highly industrialised and developed country like Japan makes the understanding of economic disparities quite difficult on a local scale. However, from the content I have learned in IBDP Geography, I feel as though the course allows me to better understand the condition of other countries beyond the local scale of where I live. The course itself is dedicated to the study of physical and political geography across the globe using individual case studies to exemplify the coursework as a real life situation. However, as an approach to process the information from different units, we as students are trained to make the link between how certain geographical factors may influence the country’s economic, social and political status. Therefore, studying the course allows me to be much more aware of how geographical factors such as global climate change or population growth affects the economy and stability of various countries but also allows me to compare the countries from each other and my own. One unit which I found to be relevant in increasing my understanding of the diversity in our world was the Global Climate Change (GCC) unit because GCC has a relevance to all countries including my own and others alike. As case studies we further investigated the varying effects of GCC on Canada which is a High Income Country (HIC) and compared it to Bangladesh, a Low Income Country (LIC). The in depth case studies of the two countries allowed me to compare and contrast the vulnerability of the two countries and how that affected the way the countries adapted or mitigated climate change. For an example, although Canada is as influenced by GCC as Bangladesh, because of the more stable income of the inhabitants and the government makes it a better adaptable country to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, I was also able to recognise how Bangladesh being a LIC increases its vulnerability to effects of GCC such as increasing incidents of floods and cyclones. A big economic factor is based on the cheaply built infrastructure which is insufficient to mitigate the intensity of storms and floods. However, the economic instability runs deeper routes than just the physical money put into the buildings. Being a LIC also decreases the opportunity for education for the low income community which further increases vulnerability of not receiving the education to help adapt or mitigate the effects of climate change. Furthermore, I also understood the trend of how the least economically stable inhabitants tended to live near the coast most prone to flooding because their main source of income was dependent on fishing and farming. Like so, although I have never flown to Bangladesh after large scale cyclones or visited the poorest neighborhoods, taking the IB Geography course pushed me to be more aware of the vulnerability of the country and also made me think about other possible countries suffering through similar or tougher effects of climate change based on what I know about their levels of income and physical geography. The course itself only requires us to compare the vulnerability of two contrasting countries, yet I have also tried to make certain connections to Japan, being my home country. Japan is a highly developed HIC in which makes it evident that the country is better adapted to climate change in comparison to Bangladesh. Therefore, it is easier to draw similarities between Canada. However, due to the physical state of the country being an island contrastingly increases its vulnerability to natural disasters because it is much harder to maintain communication and access. It is at times like these when I am suddenly able to make connections between countries and even predict information that I recognise how the course has helped to me to be much more globally aware.
On a more personal level though, being an international student comes with the background of having lived in several countries and adapted to various cultures. As a young child, I was brought up in Hong Kong while being Japanese which allowed me to explore the similarities in culture and values in different asian countries. However, in the middle of my childhood and into my adolescent years, I spent most of my life moving around west Europe. As a result, looking back I can recognize how I have integrated different pieces of the Guangzhou culture such as my love for Chinese spices or my general preference for chinese food. Yet, through my upbringing between Japanese parents I also speak Japanese and take on some traits from my parents as well. However, I feel as though I am most influenced by the European cultures and perhaps the more lenient upbringing of children that the Europeans value. Like so, beyond what I study in class, I also have a global understanding of different cultures and values within different countries which I have been able to interact with and learn through my own personal experience.