Monthly Archive for January, 2009

absolutely intercultural 75 +++ tapas revisited +++ cultural updates +++ email advice +++

"pulpo"-tapasabsolutely free:
In this show, we are revisiting the “tapas-trail” in León. I am taking you back to Spain where I visited our partner university in León some time ago. I wanted to have a look at the tapas culture there.
When you look up “tapas” in the English Wikipedia you will find that León is known for this culture. It says: “Spaniards often go “bar hopping” (Spanish: Ir de tapas) and eat tapas in the time between finishing work and having dinner. In León, a city in northwest Spain, an entire zone known as the Barrio Humedo is dedicated to tapas bars each serving their own unique dish served free with a corto (small beer) or glass of wine.”
In León, most bars still have the original Tapas culture which means that you buy a drink and get your tapas free without paying for them. It is interesting how this going “de tapas” or “tapear“, which are the Spanish expressions for this culture of walking about town, drinking un corto, a small glass of beer or a small glass of vino, eating tapas that come free with the drinks and meeting people all the time seems typical of the Spanish culture but would not work in colder climates simply because of the hassle of having to put on all these layers of clothes before walking out. So here we seem to have an example of how the climate has a strong influence on local cultural traditions.

absolutely programmed:
We continue our series of round table discussions about Geert Hofstede’s comparison of “Culture as the Software of the Mind”. This time we listen to our studio guests Fernando and Karsten. I wanted to introduce the idea of sudden and unexpected updates and draw parallels between how we – the users – experience updates in computer software (for example the recent updates to Windows Vista and Office 2007) and how we experience similar updates in our culture. We concentrated on these “sudden updates”, not gradual updates, which run in the background, where we do not notice that we have a new version, but situations where someone comes into your office and says “Let me just install an update for you…” and then it takes you two weeks afterwards to get used to the new interface.

absolutely yours:
Some people use email purely for administrative matters or for organizing things. Others write emotional and personal messages with lots of emoticons, so even before you really read the messages you notice differences in style or culture. In a round table discussion with our studio guests Sophie, Maike, Julia, and Christina we discussed how email dominates our professional and private lives today. Even my students report that incoming email steals a lot of their time and some students from my Business English Course at RheinAhrCampus had given some good advice how to handle email-generated stress. They came up with ideas like reading every incoming email message only once before taking action; or making sure that the subject line is so clear that it catches the attention of the addressee straight away.

The next show will be coming to you on 6 February from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 74 +++ Nicaragua +++ Chaos Pilots +++

work with the boundariesThis is a very diplomatic and chaotic show. Normally we are right down at the individual level but when you are talking with diplomats they tend to have a more global view of matters. We’ll also be talking about a very special postgraduate course with an international perspective.

absolutely essential:
When I met the Nicaraguan Ambassador for Denmark recently he tended to bring almost every topic we talked about to a global level, even when I asked him what he missed most from Nicaragua. Mr Ricardo Alvarado Noguera was on a visit to Grenaa Technical School when one of my students, Rune, asked him about the environment; perhaps not the first priority, you’d think, of a country which the ambassador himself referred to as ‘developing’….

absolutely chaotic:
Maybe you remember a couple of months back when I spoke with Signe Møller about the charity she had set up called 100% 2 the children. The reason I contacted her was because I was intrigued by this dynamic one woman effort, but when I spoke to her I could see that one of the reasons for her clear vision and dynamism was the post graduate course she had taken to qualify her as a Chaos Pilot. The idea of the chaos pilots is to address the increasingly frenetic, information rich and global pace of life and is summed up in Signe’s comment that ‘If I don’t know then I can find out’ We have talked several times on this podcast about student experiences of foreign internships but with the Chaos Pilots the internship idea is somewhat different.

absolutely diplomatic:
If you remember anything about the history of Nicaragua you will know that its relationship with the USA has not been smooth to say the least but that didn’t stop Rune, my technical college student from probing Ricardo Noguera about this sensitive area.

absolutely missing:
As I said at the beginning, the ambassador always tended to take the global perspective so finally I asked him a question which I was sure would give an answer at the personal level. By the end of our meeting I think I had begun to get an idea of the art of diplomacy! Or perhaps a good diplomat needs to be less culture specific then his fellow countrymen.

The next show will be coming to you on 23 January from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke

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