Absolutely Intercultural 187 +++ Cultural Comparison +++ Learning German +++ Australian Culture

Maybe you will notice that we have a new editor on the show. Laura has left the Sunshine Coast, Australia, to come and take on a year here at RheinAhrCampus in Germany. We all think she is crazy to give up all that beautiful sunshine but are so happy to have her on our team. Thanks a lot to Younes Jaber who has helped us produce so many good shows in the past and is now about to finish his studies.

absolutely surprised

As a German I have had many snow-filled days in my life and, to be honest, I dread the complications for public transport or for my evening bicycle rides when the snow freezes over. However, for an Australian, snow is not a part of Laura’s normal routine and you can tell that she is much more excited about it. It is difficult to imagine that she is unfamiliar with the mundane things we do in snowy weather, such as melting snow on pavements with salt, or at least spreading sand on it to make walking safer.

absolutely unknown

Laura had a chat with Franziska about differences between life in Germany and life in Australia and of course we hear something about the typical Aussie BBQ, gorgeous weather, but also a shark attack.

absolutely challenged

We discover what it is like for Laura and Yonatan to learn German in the country. Yonatan is originally from Eritrea but studied at our partner University Yasar in Izmir, Turkey. We hear about exciting situations that the two find themselves in when faced with a language they do not know.

Learning a new language is obviously a very new topic for Laura and the process seems to pose interesting challenges for her and Yonatan. We can only wish them all the best and I hope they continue to enjoy these ambiguous situations they described and keep practicing.

 

And please do not forget to visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor:  Laura McGuire

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Stereotypes +++ Dubuque +++ Yartey +++ Ideal Global Life Summit +++ Absolutely Intercultural 186

1622414_10203754713767118_2814680752038057489_oHappy New Year! Welcome to the first Absolutely Intercultural show of 2015 brought to you by Anne Fox in Denmark.

absolutely global
W
e start by going absolutely global as the Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit, which ran for the first time last January, is about to happen again. I will let Sabrina Ziegler one of the main organisers, tell us what we can expect this year. Don’t forget that it is free to participate, you can sign up at the website  and the dates are from 26 to 30 January. If we’re lucky we may be bringing you a few highlights from the summit in a future show.

absolutely stereotypical
This show is a little different as most of it is given over to a discussion I had with a group of students from the University of Dubuque in Iowa on the topic of stereotypes. Their teacher, Franklin Yartey contacted us and we arranged to meet via Skype. We had just run a two week series of links about stereotypes on our Facebook page so many of the issues were fresh in my mind and it was great to have all these different perspectives. Let’s go absolutely stereotypical and eavesdrop on a discussion I had with Franklin Yartey’s class on the topic of stereotypes. Just a bit of harmless fun or can stereotypical thinking really affect the course of people’s lives? I started by asking if anybody in the class had ever been stereotyped. Skype. Thanks to Nicholas Dolson, Austin Healey, Sydney Temperly, Cody J. Shipp, Rika Thibodeaux, Guillermo Garcia, Chris Gansen, Adrian Collier, Brittany Chenelia, Bekka Jacobs and all the other members of the class. Thanks to Franklin Yartey who started the whole thing off and who helped out with a great deal of technical support.

See below for a very eloquent and passionate overview of the issue.

So, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and stay tuned!

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on February 6th so until then, stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

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Absolutely Intercultural 185 +++ Christmas Traditions +++ New Year’s Resolutions +++ Intercultural Christmas

Christmas-at-the-beach_01December – in the north of Europe this means Christmas trees, mulled wine, lots of snow and if you are lucky you may spot the odd reindeer. In our show today I asked how my guests celebrate Christmas in Australia, England, Germany, Singapore and Eritrea but also how people formulate their New Year’s resolutions in different cultures.

Christmas celebrations differ around the globe but typically involve gatherings of family and friends and indulging in rich and glorious food and drink. When talking about Christmas, everyone seems to have their own ideal view of what “Christmas” should be all about, which, however, varies greatly from country to country. For me, as a child, Christmas meant spending the holy evening with my family, singing traditional, often gloomy German Christmas songs, remembering previous Christmases and excitedly anticipating the moment where I get to un-wrap my gifts. For the last 25 years, I have been abroad in different countries for that period of year, experiencing different intercultural traditions. I have been fortunate enough to meet people from all around the world and hear about how they spend their festive night.

absolutely festive

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura from Australia, Anna from England, Rashimah from Singapore and Yonatan from Eritrea and hear about their Christmas traditions. First up I asked Yonatan whether or not everyone celebrates Christmas in his African home country.

absolutely resolved

It’s not just Christmas, New Year’s is also just around the corner. Typically, at this time of year, it means formulating a New Year’s resolution to leave our bad habits behind. Generally this means setting some unrealistic ambitions, such as for a chain-smoker to quit smoking or for me to lose 5 kilos of weight. Of course resolutions differ from country to country and from culture to culture. I asked Beatrice from Germany if she has any new year’s resolutions for the coming year.

absolutely different

We already heard about various Christmas traditions from different cultural backgrounds and now we go further in depth and hear about what preparations are involved for the joyful meals. I ask Rashimah if eating at a restaurant would be on the cards for her Christmas night in Singapore or is Christmas celebrated strictly at the family house.

For over 25 years my wife and I have been away from German Christmas and traveled to warmer climates; however, wherever you go the festive season seems to catch up with us in some way. Myself and everyone from the absolutely intercultural team wish you a very merry Christmas and as we would say in Germany “Einen guten Rutsch in’s neue Jahr”, meaning “A joyful slide into the New Year”.

And please do not forget to visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editors: Younes Jaber & Laura McGuire

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Scotland +++ referendum +++ Ewan McIntosh +++ Absolutely Intercultural 184 +++

8577971814_0e4aa90744_zYes it may be cliché Scottish music, but Amazing Grace is the only bagpipe music that I could find with a Creative Commons licence, and I did like a bit of bagpipe music when I lived in Scotland a long time ago. A couple of months ago I was on a trip to Scotland where all the talk was about the Scottish referendum so I thought I would talk to a few people about it, but would they talk to me?

We had a phenomenal response to our stereotype fortnight on the Facebook page. Thank you to all those of you who liked us and thanks especially to Henrik who was our 400th liker. And yes it really is complete coincidence that Henrik is based in Denmark!

Coming up in mid-November we’ll have a polychronic and monochromic fortnight – Poly what? It’s all about your perception of time and how you use it and if you’re not sure what that is all about and how it relates to intercultural communication then head on over to our Facebook site from November 17th.

So back to Scotland. It’s rare that a new country is born peacefully. I can think of the division of Czeckoslovakia in my lifetime and very few other examples. But when the Scottish National Party won a landslide victory in the devolved Scottish parliament in 2011, they had a mandate to run a referendum of whether the people of Scotland wanted Scotland to become independent and so on September 18th the vote was held. In case you don’t know the result I’ll let you know at the end! But while we were in Scotland there was no getting away from the referendum with posters everywhere and people trying to sway you on the street corners and in private homes the topic came up pretty much wherever we went.

absolutely new
One of the most noticeable aspects of the referendum was who was allowed to vote. So let’s start with absolutely new to Scotland, the whole reason I was in Scotland, my daughter, Gwen Fox, who was moving there to start her studies at Aberdeen University.

absolutely young
And next we’ll talk to Huw Mitchell who at 17 has the vote.

absolutely no doubt
One man who was in absolutely no doubt is Ewan McIntosh, as he explained to a group of Norwegian High School students that had contacted him as part of their studies of European politics.

We heard more about this question of voting with your head or your heart from Ian Frances who works in Aberdeen.

And finally I talked to Huw’s mother, Philippa about why she was keeping absolutely quiet about her views.

Is a country the same as a culture? Does Scotland have a culture so different that it should be separate from the rest of Britain? Do nation states even matter any more? I’m afraid we haven’t touched on any of those questions but there was a very interesting article about how fragile the idea of a nation state is in the New Scientist (summary only)  recently.
Thanks to Gwen Fox, Huw Mitchell, Philippa Mitchell, Ian Francis and Ewan McIntosh for contributing to the show. ….
Oh the result? In the end it was tight but the No’s won, so Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom.

So, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and stay tuned! We’ll play you out with medieval music,  by German band Strang, playing Dance Dame Jolie.

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on December 5th so until then, stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

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Picture credit: Scottish Government

Absolutely Intercultural 183 +++ Internship Abroad +++ Intercultural Preparation +++ tourist-industry +++ First Impressions In Germany +++ Australian +++

 Vladimir on his bike tourIsn’t it great to experience new cultures by travelling to different parts of the world? Four weeks ago I spent my holiday in Andalucía, in Spain. I have wanted to go there for a long time: Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla – the place names have always sounded attractive to me.
On the first day my wife and I took part in a guided bicycle tour in Malaga – and by chance – we met Nils Langer. He told me that in the framework of his studies at the university he is completing a tourism internship in a Spanish bicycle shop
Quite a number of my students take on internships abroad in order to gain intercultural awareness and to improve their language- and transferable skills. They are culturally immersed in their host country much more than during a regular holiday. Working as an intern abroad provides them with insights into foreign work environments and working styles. Afterwards they benefit from the new international contacts they made during their internships abroad.

absolutely prepared
On my holiday in Spain, I took part in a guided bicycle tour in Malaga. I was rather surprised when I found out that our very competent young guide; Nils Langer was a German student from Lippstadt – doing his internship in a shop which offers guided tours for tourists in a variety of languages. First I asked him what his main tasks during his internship were and if he recognized any improvement of his intercultural skills.

absolutely dressed up
Sandra Elsom – an Australian guest lecturer at RheinAhrCampus in Remagen, – recognized a great number of intercultural differences right when she came to Europe. She even noticed that Germans are physically different from Australians and it made her a bit uncomfortable. Would that mean that size matters after all?

absolutely extraordinary
I interviewed Vladimir Jescht the native Russian owner of Bike2Malaga, The Guided Tours& Bike Rental Shop right by the sea. In the brochure Vladimir calls himself the “bike adventure specialist”. He does not only offer bicycles for rent but also – as we heard from Nils – offers international tours for tourists. I asked him to explain the concept.

And please do not forget to visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Younes Jaber

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Jerusalem +++ Diversity Icebreaker +++ Svetlana Kurilova +++ Absolutely Intercultural 182 +++

Diversity Icebreaker badges In today’s show we will be going to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel twice, first with Mitch Weegman who was collaborating with leading edge researchers there for a two week research visit. We’ll be hearing about how just walking through Jerusalem takes you on an intercultural journey and then we’ll be hearing from Bjørn Zakarius Ekelund in Norway who was wondering if his team building tool, the Diversity Icebreaker, could help build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.  And finally thanks to Svetlana Kurilova who contacted us through our Facebook page to tell us about her travels through Europe with a Spanish friend.

So you can contact us through our Facebook page like Svetlana did or through this blog where you can also leave comments. Thank you to Evelyn Sears in Australia who alerted us to a problem with the commenting. That is now fixed thanks to Thomas Jöckel of Toolstage in Germany. Thomas has also made our podcast accessible through mobile devices so you should now be able to hear us on any mobile device too.

It’s nice to hear from old friends of the podcast and one such is Shai Reshef who started the University of the People where you can get a degree online with free tuition. Hear him in shows 94 and 134 where you can follow how his idea was born. Shai contacted us to tell us about the TED talk he gave in Vancouver recently so I will also embed the video on our Facebook page soon.

absolutely cutting edge
So on with the show where we talk first with Mitch Weegman, an American PhD student who went for a 2 week visit to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

absolutely icebreaking
Last May I was fortunate enough to meet Bjørn Ekelund, a Norwegian, who has developed a great tool that gets people working together, the Diversity Icebreaker. After a while, Bjørn began to wonder if the tool could be used, not just in business situations but also in conflict situations so that brings us back to Israel and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem once again.

absolutely together
And finally, it’s great when we get to know our listeners a little better so I was very happy to talk with Svetlana Kurilova who caught up with us on our Facebook page to tell us about her travels across 12 European countries over the last 8 years with a Spanish friend. Let’s hear more about the new perspectives you get when you are absolutely together:

So don’t forget to keep liking us on Facebook or you can leave a comment on our blog here.

I’ll leave you with this thought. Did you know that it is Intercultural Dialogue Day on September 25th Are you doing anything special for that day? If so let us know. Who knows, you may end up on a future show!

Comment on our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page .

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on October 3rd so until then, stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

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Absolutely Intercultural 181 +++ Germany +++ German Habits +++ Intercultural Experiences In Germany +++ Language Barrier +++ Students Blog +++

Ha World CupAre YOU interested in soccer? Did you follow the FIFA World Cup which ended a couple of weeks ago?
When you look at it – it is probably the biggest intercultural event in the world where people from all continents come together to enjoy sport. Some countries stood out more than others, above all Brazil which hosted the games and we learned a lot more about Brazilian geography and culture. But Germany also stood out, because they won the cup.
So now, many people are thinking about doing a trip to Germany. As a consequence, we, the team of Absolutely Intercultural have decided to give our listeners an intercultural inside view into some parts of the German culture in the hope of reducing some stereotypes which you may have heard.

absolutely legal
I interviewed Matt Schroeder an American from South Carolina of German decent.
He spent one month at RheinAhrCampus in Germany and is going to share some personal experiences he made during his stay.
He noticed several cultural differences – even the laws on campus seem to be different.

 absolutely exotic
I interviewed Gia from Vietnam, Kristina from Lithuania and Christian from Germany.
They share some very interesting first-hand intercultural experiences with us.
But first of all I asked them if they have had difficulties approaching people and making friends in Germany

absolutely informed
If you are thinking about studying in Germany for a semester or two and you want to get an idea of what it is like you had better listen to Adelheid Korpp. She is going to tell us about a Blog which is managed by the international students themselves – with the aim of sharing their intercultural experiences with future international students.

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Younes Jaber

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Admit See +++ China +++ France +++ study abroad +++ Absolutely Intercultural 180 +++

In this show we’re going to be featuring a new business dedicated to making it easier for all to apply to American universities.

The company is called AdmitSee and we’ll be talking to Stephanie Shyu one of the co-founders. One of the biggest sources of students to American universities is China, where the university entrance process is quite different. So what would you do if you needed help in applying to a foreign university? In China, they often turn to an agent who charges a great deal of money to help you out with language issues and especially in writing a personal statement, which most Chinese have no experience with. The idea that Stephanie Shyu and her co-founders had, was to create a site where students who had already secured a university place could share various aspects of their successful application for a much smaller fee than an agent would charge.

I must admit that one of my first thoughts was, wouldn’t this lead to plagiarism, but AdmitSee have thought of that too and they put all material through plagiarism software before allowing it to be part of their website. Plagiarism is also a reason to be banned from using the site.

I got to talk to four people from Admit See and along the way I learned a great deal about the differences between applying to universities in different countries. You will find the link to AdmitSee dot com on our blog at absolutely dash intercultural dot com as well as a short promotional video which explains how it works.

For example I learned that in China there are different high school courses depending on whether you plan to go to university in China or abroad. I also learned that hiring an agent to help you with your university application does not always help anyway.

absolutely entrepreneurial
It’s always interesting to find out where ideas for new businesses come from so that was one of my first questions when I had the chance to talk to AdmitSee’s co-founder Stephanie Shyu. So let’s go absolutely entrepreneurial and find out what prompted her to start this business. It looks as though your own immediate context has a lot to do with what type of business idea you’re going to come up with.

absolutely home-based
Next I had a very short chat with Ilse Calderon, another AdmitSee employee, who told me about the big differences she found between starting at university in France and the US.

absolutely complicated
The next AdmitSee employee I talked to has himself been through the confusing process of trying to get a college place while based in China by putting his trust in a third party. Let’s hear why it is so absolutely complicated.

And finally we hear from Mindy Zhou, whose aunt in China found another way to prepare her son for college in America.

So thanks to AdmitSee for getting in touch with us and for being willing to share all their stories. I certainly learned a great deal about the problems faced by applicants outside the US although AdmitSee is also useful for American High Schoolers. It all seems very different from my own experience of using the centralised British  UCAS system many years ago.

Now this podcast is coming out on the 4rth of July so if you are American what does the 4rth of July mean to you? And if you are outside the USA, do you celebrate anyway? Or does it feel odd when all around you just carry on as normal? Let us know as a comment to this blog post or as a comment on our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page . In my next show I’ll be featuring someone who got in touch with us through our Facebook page. You’ll have to wait until September to find out more!

We have over 350 likes at the moment so why not help us reach our next milestone before the next show on August 1st and like us on Facebook? Right now the FIFA World Cup is going on so you’ll find a few related posts, such as how the Dutch airline, KLM got it so wrong on Twitter and why the Swiss team is such a contradiction.

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on August 1st so until then, stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

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Absolutely Intercultural 179 +++ Up With People +++ Social Intercultural Projects +++ Intercultural Behaviour +++ Intercultural Ambassador +++

If you like the podcast then please also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

People say that gaining intercultural experiences improves your transferable skills, your ability to adapt to new situations. However, getting in touch with other cultures may also change your personal preferences, conventions and habits. Sometimes this process can even take place unconsciously but it still changes your way of thinking dramatically. So, should we start printing warnings on travel brochures? “Warning: This trip to France could seriously change your view of the world?”

And should we be worried about “passive traveling” – because it’s not just the person who went abroad who undergoes intercultural behavioral changes but also the people in the culture they visit who are influenced by the foreigner’s cultural behaviour.

Have you ever noticed serious changes in your own values and outlook on life after a longer stay abroad or even in your own culture by exposure to people from different cultures? Please don’t hesitate and share your experiences with us on our Facebook page.

absolutely up with people
There are a number of well-known non-profit organizations who manage social and intercultural projects all over the world. I was lucky enough to get in touch with representatives of Up with People. This organization combines education, international travel, leadership development, and art performances all with the aim to bring the world together through service learning and music. I asked Shamus and Brekken – who already took part in some of those organized, intercultural projects – to explain how it all works.

absolutely hands-on
I asked Shamus to explain to us why their “up with people-project” in Mexico was a kind of challenge and how that project was well illustrated by a tree of hope.

absolutely changed
Antao Moura from Brazil has also gained a great number of intercultural experiences during his life. Like Brekkan and Shamus he noticed that some of those experiences will change you and have a lasting impact your personal outlook on life. I asked Antao why, after so many travels to different parts of the world, he does not really feel typically Brazilian any longer.

absolutely ambassador
However, sometimes, when your character or your behavior has changed after a longer stay abroad, in touch with several different cultures, you remember and appreciate the benefits of your original culture. Gia and Anh – both native Vietnamese, studying in Finland and spending their semester abroad at RheinAhrCampus in Germany, will tell us what exactly has caused intercultural change and why. In various situations they have adopted the role as an intercultural ambassador.

Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 4th of July.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

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The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

 

Editor: Younes Jaber

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1 Laptop per Child +++ Uruguay +++ British Council +++ Philippines +++ IATEFL +++ Absolutely Intercultural 178


Typhoon

In this show we will ask is it possible to build a relationship with a teacher thousands of miles away?

I also have news of two free courses coming up later this year, which might interest internationally minded listeners based in Europe. The first one, called M-HOUSE, is for people who are home-based for whatever reason, be it unemployment, looking after children and so on and who might be interested in exploring whether starting a business would be a good idea. The second project called FLITE, is aimed at people either already working or who are well on their way to getting a degree in computer sciences and who are also interested in working on a business idea. These are two projects I’m working on where we will be needing pilot students who will be able to do the courses for free. Why is this international? Because you will be doing the course online and will be working with people from all over Europe.

absolutely digital
So how do you teach English to primary school students when you don’t have any English teachers? We will be hearing about an incredible project in Uruguay, South America where the British Council have set up distance English teaching that not only teaches the children but also teaches the local classroom teacher so that in 3 years’ time Uruguay will be able to deliver the English teaching 100% locally. When I caught up with the British Council’s Graham Stanley who is the project manager, in Uruguay, my first question was about how the project, called Plan Ceibal, had all started. It turns out that Uruguay had a big advantage in carrying out this project by being absolutely digital through the One Laptop Per Child programme.

absolutely round the clock
Now we fly over to the Philippines and meet Leath Traill who talks about CTs and RTs. CTs are the classroom teachers in Uruguay, and RTs are the remote teachers, in this case, in The Philippines where they go absolutely round the clock. So why Filipino teachers?

absolutely connected
Time now to meet one of the remote teachers, or RTs as they are called in Plan Ceibal.

absolutely pioneering
As I found out more about the project I couldn’t help but compare it to Sugata Mitra’s idea of a school in the cloud. We talked to Mitra in this podcast in show 72 back in 2008 if you want to find out more. As it happens, Sugata Mitra was speaking at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in the UK where his talk unleashed a huge discussion between those who support his efforts and those who think he is trying to make teachers redundant. You can follow some of those arguments on Graham Stanley’s blog. And it was at Harrogate that I met yet another piece of the Plan Ceibal puzzle, Mercedes Viola, based in a private language school in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. At the IATEFL conference, Mercedes gave a talk on how the staff at her school also work as RTs, remote teachers, supporting the CTs, the classroom teachers in rural Uruguay, through their absolutely pioneering online remote teaching work.

And we’ll finish with Graham Stanley telling us about one unexpected side effect of the Plan Ceibal project:

The one group we couldn’t talk to because they are in the process of learning English are the CTs, the classroom teachers in Uruguay and their young students.

So how did you like your trip around the world? Is teaching the children and their classroom teachers English in this way doing some good?

Don’t forget that you can add comments to our blog or go over to our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page  where we add interesting links several times a week. At the moment our theme is stereotypes. Do you have a good link to share about stereotypes?

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on June 6th so until Stay Tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

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