Author Archive for Dr. Laurent Borgmann

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 Jetsch – 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.

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The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Younes Jaber

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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.

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The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Younes Jaber

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

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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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Absolutely Intercultural 177 +++ Intercultural Complexity and Simplicity +++ Vietnam, Finland, and Germany +++ Differences in Everyday Cultural Conventions +++ Culture Shocks +++

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Indochine057traffic jam webOur current exchange students from Vietnam and Lithuania are here in Germany studying and doing their internships. Within their first days after their arrival, they mentioned some cultural differences concerning the complexity and simplicity in their new lives and in their home countries. Cultural anthropologists have discovered and described differences in the level of cultural complexity in various parts of the world. But – as we know – the understanding of such a difficult and complicated phenomenon is not the same if you just read about it. Traveling around the world and getting in touch with many different cultures is probably the best way to understand how cultures – and especially cultural conventions – differ from country to country.

The grade of complexity of different cultures is difficult to measure – but perhaps quite easy to “feel out” when you are in that culture for the first time. Is it safe to assume that “older” cultures have developed more complexity? Is this a one-way street and do cultures become more and more complex over the centuries a little bit like our tax-law seems to be getting more and more complex because politicians discover loop-holes and try to add new rules to fix them?

absolutely different
Gia and Ahn, both native Vietnamese, studying in Finland and right now spending a semester abroad in Germany have had the opportunity to make a number of intercultural experiences. I asked them which intercultural differences they noticed first after their arrival to Europe – and if they maybe even have felt a “culture shock”.

absolutely polite
I interviewed two students – Simas from Lithuania and Tatjana from Germany and we got talking about what it means to be hospitable to your guests. If you offer food and they say “No thank you”, would you ask them again in your culture?

absolutely life-changing
We asked ourselves whether spending a long time in different countries – getting used to different cultural habits – may change your appreciation of your own native cultural conventions?
Gia and Anh have spent their holidays back home – in Vietnam – after spending a long time in Europe. I asked them if there was anything that made them feel uncomfortable in their “home-culture” – after such a long time of absence. Gia had a bit of a culture shock when her Mum and her friends gave her a lift on the scooter. All of a sudden the traffic in Ho-Chi-Minh City looked very frightening to her, too noisy and too crowded – in a word: too complex.

Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 2nd of May.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

 

Editor: Younes Jaber

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absolutely intercultural 175 +++ Australia Day +++ can-do attitude +++ the lucky country +++

Please put your headphones on and listen to Show 175 from Australia! If you like the podcast then please also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

John Major, Bush Poet at Australia Day NoosaToday our show will take you to the “Lucky Country“,  where the inhabitants with distinctive multicultural backgrounds have developed a positive “can-do”- attitude and try to give everybody a “fair go”.

Listen to my interviewees in Australia.  On the last weekend in January we celebrated Australia Day, and I took along the microphone to share my impressions with you.

absolutely immigrated
Let us listen to two typical Australians whose ancestors came over from Europe. I met Vivian and Wayne in Sydney Harbour over coffee and with the beautiful view on the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and when I was conducting the interview I wished we had a video podcast so I could have shared with you a perfect hot summer morning in late December.

absolutely Aussi
Three weeks later I had left New South Wales and was back on the Sunshine Coast. Let us see whether in Queensland being Australian is also about football, meat pies, and BBQs. I asked some colleagues from the University of the Sunshine Coast how they were planning to celebrate Australia Day. Bishnu told us that when he first moved to Australia he did not really like eating lamb but now it has turned into his favourite dish. Talk about successful integration!

absolutely aboriginal
I am following up this topic of the first owners of the land and asked how the attitudes of ordinary Australians towards Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have changed over the years in society and in education.

absolutely multicultural
Every year the Australian of the Year is elected and this person will give important public speeches during that year. This year I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to the speech of the outgoing Australian of the Year talking about attitudes to indiginous people and to multiculturalism in general. You could really see on Ita Buttrose’s face how happy she is that her ancestors came over to Australia in the 1850ies.

absolutely original
On 26 January I visited Australia Day in Noosa, Queensland, in search of examples and explanations of the”can-do” attitude, the “fair go” and the “Lucky Country”. I did not have to search long because the first person I met, John Major, “Bush Poet” and former farmer, explained to me in his own words what these Australian concepts are all about for him.

And do not miss the brass band at the beginning and the end of that interview!

Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experience in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

Our next show will be coming to you on 7 March from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –

Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

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absolutely intercultural 173 +++ intercultural preparation +++ Keenjar +++ Hands on course +++ Emeralds of the Alhambra +++

 

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Emeralds_of_the_AlhambraMoving to a foreign country may require special preparation to get along with different cultural conventions in your new environment. If you are trained to pay attention to intercultural details, you will discover many differences during your stay abroad. Have YOU ever had an intercultural experience where you have felt as if you had been thrown into the cold “intercultural” water? Perhaps a situation which made you wish you had taken an intercultural preparation class – to be better prepared for situations like that? Actually, there are so many different cultures with so many different conventions, which can never be taught in one single classroom. So, we asked ourselves, how can we achieve intercultural “awareness” and be well- prepared for such varied situations?

 

absolutely meaningful
In previous episodes we heard a lot about intercultural experiences of exchange students who have come to Europe. They told us about some intercultural incidents which had shocked or embarrassed them in their new surroundings. However, we never asked ourselves how these students could prepare themselves interculturally, so that these painful situations could be softened or even avoided? Let us listen to Domas, who points us to an opportunity for intercultural preparation by using an online learning-platform called Keenjar

absolutely experienced
Many people expect that they will pick up intercultural differences naturally while they are in the new culture but if you have a theoretical framework before you go you might do a much better job interpreting all the new impressions?
Let us listen to Collette. She is a moderator of an online intercultural preparation course, in which students who go to different European countries for their practical training share their intercultural experiences. Collette, herself, had to do without such training when she moved from Kenya to Europe and it felt to her as if she had been thrown into the cold water. This is why she now appreciates intercultural preparation instead of learning the hard way.
On Collette’s course, sharing one’s practical experiences with other people who are in similar situations is the way forward to developing an intercultural awareness that helps us master new intercultural situations.

absolutely world-wide
Audrius is going to give us some more details about how the online school works. Learning something new in a group with people from different cultures can be a very powerful intercultural stimulant. This could happen either in a physical classroom or, as in the case of Keenjar, in an online environment, where the teacher is in one country and the students are contributing their experiences from different geographical locations world-wide.

absolutely peaceful
The festive season is round the corner and wherever you are in the world and whatever religion is predominant in your country, there is still a good chance that we will all be listening to “Jingle Bells” from the radio one of these days. Do you celebrate Christmas in your country? Will it be a white Christmas – or will you, like me, have a day off on the beach? We asked ourselves what kind of present we could make to our audience in such diverse cultural settings at the end of the year? And we are happy to say: we found the perfect intercultural present.
Dr. John Cressler is going to give us some information about his historic novel called “Emeralds of the Alhambra” which tells the story of an intercultural Love Story involving Christians, Jews and Muslims…
Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experience in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

Our next show will be coming to you on 3rd January from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –

Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

 

Editor: Younes Jaber

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absolutely intercultural 171 +++ semester abroad +++ intercultural experiences +++ Germany +++ exchange student support +++

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BlogpictureOur exchange students from Australia and Hungary have finished one year studying and doing their internships in Germany. Spending a long time far away from home – all on your own – will probably change your way of thinking and of doing things. Maybe – it will even make you cross that invisible line between being a teenager and an adult.

Have you ever thought about spending some time abroad in order to acquire intercultural experiences? Or are you still undecided, because you have too many worries about leaving your comfort zone and getting along in a foreign country?
You are in good company, our international exchange students, too, had many worries before they arrived at our university but they did survive their year abroad with a smile in their faces.

absolutely open-minded
During the last year our Australian exchange students collected a number of intercultural experiences in Germany and Turkey. They met many new people and made many new friends.
But before they came to Germany, they also had many worries in their heads.
I interviewed Tehlia, Matthew and Lucy – all Australian students in order to hear more about their main worries and getting some suggestions for future exchange students.

absolutely helpful
We asked ourselves what kind of help future exchange students need during the planning of their semester abroad. I interviewed Adelheid Korpp. She told us more about typical questions and worries of exchange students before they arrive in Germany.
It seems to be mostly about accommodation…

absolutely life-changing
Barbara Neukirchen, our colleague who looks after the “outgoing students” will share her impressions of how students have changed after their stay in a foreign country. I asked her how the students find out about their options for spending a year abroad.

absolutely inspired
Andreas Faulstich, lecturer at RheinAhrCampus, is going to explain in how much his year in Scotland influenced his style of teaching.

Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experiences in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

Our next show will be coming to you on 1st of November from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –

Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

 

Editor: Younes Jaber

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absolutely intercultural 169 +++ intensive programs +++ Izmir +++ Turkey +++ nudity +++ money exchange abroad

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Flags in airport_small
During the past months our international exchange students have experimented with “Citizen Journalism”. They tried it out as a preparation for an intensive program in Izmir, Turkey. This seminar looked at journalism from different perspectives. One of the aims was to develop strategies for working efficiently in intercultural teams with students from several different European countries. In the end the students even created their own “intercultural newspaper” which was presented on the last day. Have you had the opportunity to work in an intercultural team yourself? Including absolute strangers from different cultural backgrounds? Do you think such intensive programs could be helpful for your future career? Improving your intercultural people skills?

absolutely diverse
Last semester, some of our international exchange students created an intercultural blog in order to try their hands at “citizen journalism”- as a preparation for a two weeks Erasmus Intensive Program in Izmir, Turkey. The seminar was about “journalism”. Lecturers and students from five different countries meet in one university, learn and work in international groups and spend their free time together for two weeks. Both, teachers and students have the chance to develop internationally and improve their social skills by working in teams with people from different cultural backgrounds.

absolutely shocked
So the students tried out citizen journalism as a preparation for their joint seminar in Turkey. As a preparation the group produced short audio files which describe their intercultural experiences in a foreign country. They were quite shocked by some conventions in these countries.

absolutely Erasmus
You may be asking yourself how these international seminars can be financed in times where all universities are hit by severe budget cuts. You are right, such complex international projects can be quite expensive. 25 students and lecturers have to travel by airplane and trains to the partner university and once in the foreign country they need accommodation and food, too. The costs for this international experience could be an insurmountable problem for students. In order to lower that hurdle students who are interested in intercultural experiences are supported by funding programs like the European Erasmus Program, which covers a part of the costs. What is your opinion about subsidizing international student excursions with European taxpayer’s money? Is this money really well spent? Matthew, Tehlia, and Lucy are going to give us some reasons why such study trips should be sponsored.

absolutely helpless
Even with the European funding, of course, the participants of the seminar in Turkey also needed to exchange money from Euros to Turkish Liras. In our last category “absolutely helpless” one lecturer shares how something simple like exchanging money can turn into an intercultural learning process, too. Reka, from Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary, shares her trouble in a bank.

Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experience in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

Our next show will be coming to you on 6 September from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –

Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

 

Editor: Younes Jaber

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absolutely intercultural 167 +++ citizen journalism +++ foreign experiences +++ special needs +++ storybud

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Storybud-podcast-image

Our international exchange students from different cultural backgrounds sometimes describe their first cultural experiences in their new surroundings as if they had “intercultural special needs”. They say their experience is as if they were re-learning to walk, or as if their vision was impaired and they needed to navigate very carefully in their new surroundings, for example during their first trip to the supermarket or to the gym. Have you had that experience yourself? That in a foreign culture you suddenly felt as if you could not move normally but it seemed as if you were walking with crutches while everybody else did not have that impediment and seemed perfectly comfortable in the situation?

In this episode we will talk to Judit from Hungary and Thelia from Australia who will share their experiences in Germany which made them feel like they have ‘special needs’.
We will also speak to Paul Halligan, from Ireland, who will tell us about everyday challenges of people who really do have special needs in the medical sense, in this case visually impaired people. Paul tells us how he helps these people.

absolutely foreign
Two international exchange students Judit and Thelia have designed an audio blog in order to try their hands at “citizen journalism”. Citizen journalism is a new kind of reporting which is done by the public, by people like you and me, usually through social media such as Facebook,  Youtube, blogs, etc. Citizen journalism allows us to see what is really happening in the world. Judit’s and Tehlia’s blog examines cultural diversity experiences among their international friends who live abroad. Their slogan is: “Citizen Journalism – giving a Voice to Diversity”. So they collect some intercultural experiences and record them as audio files for their blog.

absolutely special needs
Thelia and Judit mentioned that as foreigners in a new culture somehow they felt like people with special needs. But now we will turn to people who really do have special needs, in the medical sense of the word, in this case people who find it difficult to read from conventional computer screens. Can you imagine how these visually impaired people handle their everyday life – including their computer work? Solving communication challenges which aren’t problematic for sighted people? I interviewed Paul Halligan from Ireland. He is partially sighted and he is going to tell us about one of his everyday challenges as a Daddy with “special needs”: reading bedtime stories to his children…

absolutely intuitive
Visually impaired people struggle with technical and emotional challenges which sighted people cannot even imagine. However, their medical limitations can also lead to a heightened problem-solving ability as in Paul’s case. He told us about his dream which some years ago he put into practice. He created a storytelling website which is made for visually impaired people – but not just for them – everybody can profit from it, also language learners as the special help that Paul offers will also empower them to understand the stories better.

Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experience in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

Our next show will be coming to you on 5 July from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Younes Jaber

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absolutely intercultural 165 +++ volunteering +++ European Voluntary Service +++ workcamps +++ West and North Africa +++ Southeast Turkey +++ Ramadan

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youth_in_action2

 

What are the pictures that you have in your mind when you think about “volunteer work“? Do you think of people travelling to developing countries and teaching people the right way to do things? Is “volunteerism” the new “colonialism” dressed up in 21st century social responsibility? Or could it be a way for the volunteers to learn some new skills? And, do you even have to go abroad or is it possible to volunteer and learn new things through volunteerism in your own hometown from other cultures? In this episode we will talk to Elena Colunga Caballero and John Kaethler from Brock University in Canada who will demonstrate that volunteering is much more about learning than about teaching.

absolutely reciprocal
Elena is from Spain, where the majority of people are Christians. Through her international volunteer work she has developed an intercultural sensivity and awareness of different traditions and ways of thinking. She tells us how she embarked on this intercultural learning journey thanks to her parents, who encouraged her to get involved in a volunteering project at high school. Later she collaborated in an association called “Kala – Encuentro en la Calle”, located in her city , Córdoba, in the South of Spain whose aim it is to support children and young homeless and unprotected migrants from the Northern and Sub Saharan Africa.  Also, a couple of years ago she was nominated to participate in a workcamp in the region of Kurdistan, in South Eastern Turkey. She is convinced that volunteering is a great recipe for reciprocal learning.

absolutely inexperienced
Some time ago I interviewed John Kaethler from Brock University in Canada who told me that he had volunteered for two years as a development worker in Nigeria and again for two years in Papua New Guinea a long time ago. He points out that the international volunteer workers need to understand that THEY are the ones who are learning a lot and are growing in the process…

absolutely open-minded
In our last category “absolutely open-minded” we will come back to the intercultural learning process triggered by international volunteer work. Elena tells us about a situation during which she learned about the frictions between the Kurdish and Turkish people and how the exposure to this conflict helped her accept the coexistence of different opinions on the same reality. This seems to be the key to intercultural open-mindedness. She also shares her first experience of Ramadan in a region with a majority Muslim population. We also learn that typical international volunteers seem to have some characteristics in common and finally she gives us some advice of how to start a volunteering experience through the European Voluntary Service.

Would you like to share with us your own experience as a volunteer in your own country or abroad? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative aspects of it, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.

If you want even more background as to broader issues behind our intercultural stories in this podcast then you might consider visiting the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon store where we have both classics, basics and specifics for sale, a small proportion of which goes to us to support the costs of maintaining this podcast.

Our next show will be coming to you on 3  May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

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