refugees +++ integration +++ Denmark +++ Germany +++ Eddies +++ absolutely intercultural 196 +++

Kalø HøjskoleWe have a new look for the website, a Facebook milestone, a webinar on culturally responsive teaching and a plea for help on the Edublog awards! We will be talking to two teachers about how they adapt to a diverse classroom.
So we have updated the website to accommodate the new material we have on culturally responsive teaching. You can now also sign up for the Teaching Culture newsletter . The next one comes out on the same day as this podcast and includes information, links and news. And of course it’s all free.

And thanks to Jeja Petrici who became our 500th Facebook liker on 16th October. We regularly post links on intercultural topics there on most week days. Just do a search on Facebook for Absolutely Intercultural or use the link on the sidebar.
People overcome all sorts of obstacles to be on our show! Here’s Alexandra Haas in Germany, arriving to our agreed recording a tiny bit delayed!

absolutely at home
We’ll hear more about what the refugee influx has meant for Alexandra’s work later in the show. But first we will make a visit to a very special institution, a Danish high school, which is not what you may think. The network of Danish high schools dotted all over the country, usually in very attractive rural settings, is a place for adults to go on short to long term residential courses. These courses in the past have tended not to be vocational but mainly just for the sake of learning. It’s a very Danish institution and can be traced back to Grundtvig, a Danish 19th century philosopher who gave his name to the European Union’s strand for adult education funding. My local high school specialises in languages and nowadays caters for foreigners in Denmark needing to learn Danish in order to settle down here. I went to Kalø Højskole (see image) to meet Jennifer Appave, a Canadian who has worked in Japan, Africa and Asia, to ask her about her experience teaching multinational groups in this residential setting.

absolutely German
Did you know that this podcast came out of a project called Teaching Culture which ended in 2006? In Teaching Culture we developed a curriculum to help teachers become more interculturally aware and to include intercultural elements no matter what they were teaching. Alexandra Haas was the initiator and coordinator of the project and it was great to catch up with her almost 10 years later to find out how the refugee influx in Germany was affecting her work at VHS Rhein-Sieg.
Hearing from Jennifer and Alexandra is very helpful to me as I update and adapt the Teaching Culture course so that it is suitable for Erasmus+ funding. What we learned there was about the importance of

  • treating each learner as an individual,
  • negotiating what goes on in the classroom and
  • being prepared for conflict and dealing with that by finding out what the underlying reasons for the conflict may be.

absolutely global
I’ll be talking about making the most of the intercultural resources in the adult classroom at the upcoming Global Education conference which is free and online. My session is in the European evening of November 19th at 20:00 CET and you might want to explore the other sessions available from 16-19th November because the overall theme is about going global in your classroom.
So that’s it for this show! We’ll be posting on the Facebook page when the nominations for the Edublog awards start so please do consider nominating the podcast. The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on 4th December. So until then stay tuned!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook or leave a comment on iTunes and stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox




Absolutely Intercultural 195 +++ international students +++ internship experience abroad +++ gypsy art +++

Sander WillemsIn today’s podcast we hear about ‘‘International students and their internship experience abroad”. We talk to Sander, a Dutch student who is living in Spain working in a bike tour company and he told us about how to plan, organize and prolong a student internship then we listen to an interview with two gypsy artists Delaine and Damian from Great Britain who are traveling the whole world and exhibiting their art in various places, e.g. at VHS Aachen Continue reading Absolutely Intercultural 195 +++ international students +++ internship experience abroad +++ gypsy art +++

Absolutely Intercultural 193 +++ selfies +++ image projection +++ selfie gadgets +++

15352991352_09994a8a23_mListen to today’s podcast and find out about ‘‘Selfies’’. We talk to three of our exchange students from Croatia, Australia and Pakistan and learn about their perspectives on taking selfies. Continue reading Absolutely Intercultural 193 +++ selfies +++ image projection +++ selfie gadgets +++

Absolutely Intercultural 191 +++ Storytelling +++ Germany +++ Pakistan +++ Canada +++


The focus oIMG_3748f today’s show is on storytelling and we hear from students and how they have used story telling in different situations including in work and at university. We also hear from an exchange student from Pakistan and learn about some of the cultural differences between Germany and Pakistan. Continue reading Absolutely Intercultural 191 +++ Storytelling +++ Germany +++ Pakistan +++ Canada +++

absolutely intercultural 160 +++ entrepreneurship +++ critical thinking +++ intensive seminar +++ Lithuania +++

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Did you know that if you are a student in a European University you are able to take part in an intensive seminar with students and lecturers from all over the EU?  We’ll be hearing from some students who took part in one such seminar in Lithuania earlier this year.  Did you follow Karsten Kneese on Twitter last month?  Karsten took over the ’I am Germany’ Twitter account for a week early in October.  One thing I learnt about during that week was the German work canteens which are open to the public.  So what do you think of this as a way of representing a country?  You can add your comments to our blog here or on our Facebook page. Thank you An, Vian, Sammy, Katherine and Roman who are the latest to have liked us there.

So in May, 35 students and lecturers from all over Europe gathered together in Lithuania to work together for two weeks on an intensive seminar about entrepreneurship called RECEIVE.  The topics explored included marketing, intercultural differences, digital communication, coaching and critical thinking.  Critical thinking not only has an application to entrepreneurs but is also an important skill for students who have been taught in quite a different way across the world.

absolutely critical
I talked first to Serge Koukpaki from Edinburgh University, which attracts many international students each year, about why he teaches a course on critical thinking and the effect on his foreign students. Then I talked to three of the students Serge brought with him to participate in the RECEIVE project who came from China, Thailand and Tanzania to find out what they thought of bringing a diverse group together to create joint products.  Guangqian Li from China spoke about his experience of working in a multinational group.  I was certainly surprised to learn that this intensive seminar in Lithuania was Li’s first experience of a truly multicultural educational setting.  Didn’t he have that in Edinburgh I wondered? Next I spoke to Duanjam Surbpong or Mo for short from Thailand about the benefits of the Intensive programme; extending your network is certainly a useful entrepreneurial skill. My final interview was with Hassan Iddy, a teacher trainer from Tanzania who found that the communal living aspect of the project reminded him of life in Tanzania much more than in Edinburgh where he is currently studying for his Masters.

absolutely challenging
So far we’ve heard a lot of good things about the Receive project but there were also a few challenges.  For example the group visited holocaust memorial museums while in Lithuania which lead to a discussion on genocide and the question about whether China’s one child policy could also be classed as genocide.  For Li, whom we heard from earlier, this was a problem as he explains. And that wasn’t the only challenge.  In my own workshop where we were constructing the project website, we suddenly noticed after about four days of work that all the personal photos on the website were of males.  This was quite a shocking realization which lead us to review all the photos on the website as well as discussing how this could have happened.  In fact it wasn’t just about photos.  You may have noticed that all my interviewees in this pod cast were also male.  So lots of food for thought.

absolutely entrepreneurial
If you are interested in following up the cross-border entrepreneurial theme you can join me in the free online Global Education conference on Monday 12 th November  at 18:00 GMT when I’ll be showing  a way of helping interns make more of their foreign posting through online skills training. All details and links will also be on our Facebook page.

absolutely Amazon
And finally don’t forget that if you are interested in following up any aspect of intercultural communication we have put together a collection of books, old and new, theory and practical in the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon book store. You don’t pay any extra but we get a small contribution to help continue pay the expenses of this podcast. Now that the northern nights are drawing in, a book may be just what you need here! You don’t pay any more to buy them through our store and every purchase contributes a little to the running costs of the podcast so if you’re thinking of buying, consider using our new store. There is a permanent link at the top of this blog page.

Our next show will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann on December 7th so stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox 

Recordings done on my iPad and editing done with the help of Hindenburg Journalist Pro

absolutely intercultural 159 +++ Rotation Curation +++ Culture Shocks +++ Jordan +++ Working in an international environment +++

Our new editor, Elena

Our New Editor from Spain: Elena Colunga Caballero. Welcome to our team!

So what should we be listening to in this podcast:
How do you personally try to gain authentic information about a country  and culture that you are interested in? Do you trust the official view of the foreign office website? Or do you go straight to Wikipedia? How about listening to some real people from that country? This way you will get the unofficial story from the citizens themselves. Perhaps it could be interesting to listen to a father of two children who can tell you what it is really like to take the two on public transport or to a restaurant? This is inside information that you may not find in any of the official publications of the country. Under a system which is called Rotation Curation Movement, Karsten Kneese will host the twitter account of I_amGermany for a week starting next Monday.

absolutely twitter
Let us explore what you, the listeners can find out about his culture if you follow him during that week. In our first category “absolutely twitter” I asked Karsten how the Rotation Curation Movement has developed since it started in Sweden last year. If you are interested, please find “I_amGermany” on Twitter on Monday and follow Karsten around for a week. This is grass-roots journalism on Twitter that I think you should not miss. You have the opportunity to find out the real story from real citizens without having to travel to the country.

absolutely stereotypical
I spoke to a group of students from the German-Jordanian University who jumped in at the deep end and decided to spend a whole semester in Europe. In our second category “absolutely stereotypical” I asked them what their parents and friends had warned them about before they left.

absolutely international
In our third category “absolutely international” I am talking to a young but very well travelled person. After spending all her holidays abroad since she was 15 she has also studied in France and has now started doing her practical training in the department of Languages /International Affairs at the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz. I asked Elena from Spain what her friends and family had said when she was planning her big step.

absolutely different
Let us now return to the group of Jordanians who told me that in their country it would be very unusual for a lecturer to go to the university by bike, because there seems to exist a bigger “power distance” between lecturers and their students. We also learn that in Jordan, if you get invited to dinner you have to refuse several times in order to be polite before you finally accept. So one of the students politely said “No” to a dinner invitation in Germany but then learned the hard way that here you only get one shot, and he was not invited again. In our last category “absolutely different” I asked the students to explain major cultural differences which they have observed during the first weeks in Europe.

Our next show will again be coming to you on 2nd 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: Elena Colunga Caballero & Karsten Kneese



absolutely intercultural 157 +++ CSR +++ students view +++ real life projects +++ community work +++ school children +++ elderly people +++

Today I would like to pick up the topic of your last show. We talked about CSR which stands for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. In times of global markets and increased business competition, Small and Medium sized Enterprises must find a way to increase their competitive edge. Therefore they often try to save costs as a result of competitive conditions and market instabilities. However, maybe a cultural change in companies will give them a competitive advantage? Implementing and practicing CSR may lead to increased costs and you may not see the benefits immediately. So why do successful companies go in that direction? Apparently around 50% of American and European SMEs believe that CSR-activities are somewhat effective for their business. SMEs can change their company culture and provide significant benefits by investing in small, efficient projects in society to increase their own visibility in the community. Some companies may do something good for the environment or donate money and others might start working in close cooperation with Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organizations. This time I would like to approach the topic from a different angle. CSR is becoming more and more important in business life and thus future managers should have a solid knowledge about it. In previous shows I talked to CSR specalists such as lecturers from different European universities and employees of companies which have implemented CSR in their business plans. Our focus was to find out how CSR work changes the culture within the company but also the contacts between a company and its stake holders. Today my focus is on students and what they learn about CSR during their studies of Business Administration. I interviewed students from Hungary, Russia, and Mongolia who dealt with corporate culture and CSR in their last semester at RheinAhrCampus in Germany in one of my courses called “International Business Simulations”.

absolutely young
In our first category  I asked Katalin Perjési from Hungary what she thinks about CSR and what she learnt on the course. She will tell us about a project where the students designed and implemented their own CSR projects for the university. They invited school children to the campus to teach them about respect and diversity in the community. Some said afterwards that they walk past the university every day but had never dreamed of spending a day inside before they reach their A-levels. As these were school children who often get taught in classes with many national backgrounds it was not so surprising, how much they already knew about diversity, respect for different cultures and dealing with other children who do not have the same first language.

absolutely green
I interviewed Nadya Kokareva from Russia. She will tell us about the vague ideas people have about CSR and gives us some examples of how a university could practice CSR. This is not exclusively about institutions “going green”, which means saving the environment. Nadya also took part in the course and participated in another project. This time, the target group were not the children in the community, but the elderly people who live in a nursing home just 800 metres from campus. In spite of the proximity, the students who took part in the project had never visited the home.

absolutely courageous
Oyunbileg is an exchange student from our Turkish partner university in Izmir. However, she is originally from Mongolia and is currently doing her Erasmus semester abroad. In our last category she will talk about her theoretical lectures on stakeholder relationships and relates the theory to the practical CSR projects she was involved in last semester. Finally she gives us an idea of the cultural differences she experienced moving between Mongolia, Turkey and Germany.

Our next show will again be coming to you on 7 of September.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer



absolutely intercultural 155 +++ Intensive Seminar +++ Izmir +++ Corporate Social Responsibility +++ European Companies +++ Crisis +++ Non-Profit Organization +++ SERVAS +++

Students donating their used clothes at Yasar University IzmirToday I am going to talk about CSR which is short for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. My students and I visited an intercultural Erasmus Intensive Program for students and lecturers from 12 different universities all over Europe organized in Izmir at Yasar University in Turkey. We all shared our knowledge and experience concerning the different approaches to CSR in different countries and learned a lot about challenges and benefits in the European context. In general you could say that CSR is meant to improve the relationship between a company and all its stakeholders. It actually must be the responsibility of us all and especially of successful companies to protect society and the environment. CSR also changes company cultures by improving the relationship with employees, suppliers, customers, the environment and the local community.

absolutely timely
We organized a roundtable discussion about CSR with lecturers from all over Europe who all participated in the ERASMUS Intensive Program in Izmir. Together with Ann Knaepen from the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, Carla de Lima from the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança in Portugal, Dr. Reka Jablonkai from Corvinus University Budapest in Hungary and Anne Burke from the Letterkenny Institute of Technology in Ireland we discussed different examples of CSR in those countries. We discussed, whether the middle of an economic crisis is really the right time to spend money on CSR-projects.

absolutely win-win
In this category, I would like to dive into the topic a little deeper. I am talking to Laura Brandt from the Haute Ecole de la Province de Liège in Belgium. She is a lecturer for Entrepreneurship and a bit of an expert on SMEs, which means “Small and Medium sized Enterprises”. She tells us that, in fact, 99% of all European companies are SMEs. These companies are facing tough economic challenges right now in the crisis. Laura explains why it is so important for SMEs to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility in their “core business values”. I asked her to tell us how she found out about the subject before joining the intensive seminar in Turkey. Laura gives an interesting example of a cleaning company in which CSR really turned into a win-win situtation for the company and all its stakeholders.

absolutely communicative
Our last guest for today is Adelheid Korpp. Adelheid and her husband love traveling. About 10 years ago, when they decided to travel around the world, she got in touch with an organization called Servas. Servas provides travellers with free accommodation all over the world, but you only get invited to stay at a host’s place if you obey certain rules of the system. Adelheid will explain how she got in touch with Servas and how the system works. This may, in fact, be the best way to get in touch with locals while travelling through different countries. In my opinion Servas is also an excellent example of a non-profit organisation which could be supported by companies. So, if you are a CEO and you are looking for a good CSR-cause – please do get in touch with them.

Our next show will again be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann on July 6st.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer



absolutely intercultural 153 +++ South Korea +++ Germany +++ Semester abroad +++ Ideal student +++ Personal development +++

EWHA-University-Students Today I am going to talk about the exciting decisions of those students who broaden their horizons by studying abroad. Furthermore we will talk to an expert who helps these students get the right information and financial support for fulfilling their dreams of living and studying in another country. Last but not least I would like to share an urban myth about an intercultural incident on a British Airways flight complete with a happy ending (at least for some of the people involved!)

absolutely remarkable
In Germany it is normal for about 20% of students at universities go abroad during their studies. However, Anne Gründer, is rather special in many ways. She studied Biomathematics and chose to spend a semester studying abroad at EWHA Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea. And because she enjoyed her time so much she actually extended her stay for a second semester. Anna also successfully learned the language with the Asian symbols that look so unfamiliar to the western eye. Now that she is back in Germany she looks back on the cultural differences she experienced and shares how she benefited from her stay. In our first category  she will start by telling us why she chose South Korea as her destination for her semester abroad.

absolutely courageous
If one of our listeners is toying with the idea of coming to Germany, our interview will be particularly interesting for you. Kata Perjési is an Hungarian student. After spending a study semester abroad in Finland, she had planned to do her internship in Finland too. However, luckily for us she ended up being our new intern here at RheinAhrCampus. Kata is from Corvinus University in Budapest and will stay here for six months. In our next category she is going to tell us, why she chose Germany as her destination and what benefits she expects to get out of her stay abroad.

absolutely ideal
Our last guest for today is Wolfgang Kräft. He is working for the “German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD”. Together with his team, one of Wolfgang’s jobs is to travel through Germany and to inform German students how they could study abroad and which financial support they can get. They stop in bigger cities with their go-out mobile bus and provide students with a lot of information. In our last category Wolfgang will tell us what the ideal study abroad student should look like, how students can receive information about a semester abroad and finally he will give us advice on how your stay abroad could be the most productive time of our studies.

absolutely funny
Let me finish today with an intercultural urban myth about a black man and a white woman – a story has turned into a well-copied piece on the internet over the last decade. According to different versions this incident would have happened on about 17 different Airlines which is not very plausible but the story is nice enough to be re-told here:

“A 50- year old white woman on a British Airways flight arrived at her seat and saw that the passenger next to her was a black man. Visibly furious, she called the air hostess.
“Whats the problem, ma?” the hostess asked her
“Cant you see?” the lady said – “I was given a seat next to a black man. I can’t sit here next to him! You have to change my seat”
– “Please, calm down” – said the hostess
“I think, all the seats are occupied, but I`m still going to check if we have any.”
The hostess left and returned some minutes later.
“Madam, I spoke to the captain and he confirmed that there isn`t any empty seats in the economy class. We only have seats in the first class.”
“Look, it is unusual for our company to allow a passenger from the economy class be upgraded to the first class. However, given the circumstances, the captain thinks that it would be a scandal to make a passenger travel sat next to an unpleasant person.”
And turning to the black man, the hostess quickly said:
“Which means, Sir, if you would be so nice to pack your hand luggage, we have reserved you a seat in the first class…”
And all the passengers nearby, who were shocked to see the scene started applauding, some giving standing ovations.”

Adapted from:


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

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer



absolutely intercultural 143 +++ ERASMUS special +++ Experience Report +++ EU-placements +++ Internship +++

ERASMUS LOGOToday, we present a show which is going to focus on the European Program called “ERASMUS”, named after Eramus of Rotterdam. However, the name also stands for “EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students”. So, University students can apply for ERASMUS grants when they want to study abroad withinin Europe. Therefore we will hear different opinions about this mobility program and the opportunities students gain by studying abroad within the ERASMUS framework. Nowadays it is more and more important for students to internationalize themselves during their studies. This means they have to leave their comfort zones and broaden their horizons by studying abroad. In order to initiate this process, the European ERASMUS program was founded almost 25 years and has been giving out grants for the internationalization of students.

 absolutely basic
In our first category Adelheid Korpp is going to tell us, what the program is about and which preparations students have to make. She is an expert on the ERASMUS program. She is responsible for the so-called “incoming students” at RheinAhrCampus and she knows a lot about the grants. She will tell us which countries in Europe take part in the ERASMUS program and what benefits student can expect if they decide to go on an ERASMUS exchange. For good Europeans it is essential to understand each other better particularly in context of the recent discussions about financial solidarity between the European member states.

absolutely experienced
In our second category Timo Schneider will share his experiences with us. He is back from his stay in Worcester, England, where he studied at a partner university of RheinAhrCampus. He will tell us how he heard about the program, what motivated him to put in an application, and of course which benefits he got from his stay. Timo also shares some of his intercultural experiences in sports where he noticed that his previous stereotypes really did not help. He will also give us a very useful advice.

absolutely working
In our last category Carsten Ritterath a student of business administration reports about his preparation for an internship in England. His football coach helped him find the English organisation where one of his tasks was to compare English and German approaches to health management in companies. Carsten managed to get a grant from ERASMUS-placements and he tells us what he needed to do in order to apply for this. He wrote a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, he took part in an intercultural seminar and he had to pass an English test. I took this interview with Carsten some time ago so in the meantime he is already back from his very successful ERASMUS stay.

Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 16 September

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer