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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.”
Today our show will be all about work and will focus on different work situations. You will first listen to an interview with Kyle Hickman from California who did an internship with a German newspaper, then to Mathew Dunne, a plumber from New Zealand, who worked in England and who is currently working in Munich, Germany. Also, I interviewed Judi McAlpine, an American manager who quit her job to found a non-profit organization in Tanzania. Adelheid Korpp will tell us her reasons, why Facebook will never play a role for her, neither in her working life or her private life.
absolutely committed In our first category I talk to Kyle Hickman from California. At the time of the interview, Kyle was doing an internship with a big national newspaper in Germany, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“, and told us a little about the cultural differences he had noticed between California and Germany. For example, he seems to have detected a difference in attitude towards interns who are doing a practical training in a company. While he expected to be exploited as cheap labour – making coffee, copies or “cold calls” he noticed that his internship in Germany was really centered on the professional development of the intern – often even based on the intern’s personal likes and interests. So, from the beginning Kyle was trusted with what he calls “real work” and was able to contribute to the success of the newspaper. However, he also found out that smiling too much in the work place could be seen as suspicious in his host country and adapted his behavior accordingly. He did not find it difficult to integrate, though, as he grabbed every opportunity to be social with his co-workers. Listen out for what Kyle shares about eye-contact and how he had to adapt to a different culture.
absolutely careful In our second category I talk to Adelheid Korpp. She is responsible for the so-called “incoming students” at RheinAhrCampus. Students from our partner universities who have been in contact with her often want to add her as a friend to their Facebook accounts. However, Adelheid is suspicious of being part of this biggest virtual community in the world. Well, she is probably right because life was difficult and complex enough before we had to check Facebook and Twitter. Sharing your personal information and pictures on the internet can, indeed, sometimes perhaps be harmful for you and for your career. So let’s find out, why she doesn’t want to take part in the big social media hype.
In our third category I interviewed Judi McAlpine from the US when we both met in Cambodia earlier this year. Judi was a very successful manager for a huge company in the US. But then she transferred all her resources into a 2-years stay in Tanzania, where she lived in the villages with indigenous people and founded a charity. JUAF is a registered non-profit charity located in the Kikwe village of Tanzania. In partnership with indigenous women, Judi founded a village with resources for vulnerable women and children to empower them to fight poverty. This is done through micro financing, education, and support. Check out their blog for more information. But why would someone like Judi give up her well-paid job in the US to move to third-world-country?
In our last category I Interview Mat Dunne who is a plumber from New Zealand. He has travelled a lot around the world for his work. He worked in Canada and in England. Right now he is living in Munich, Germany. In every step of his life he experienced different cultural situations. In the interview he will tell us about the differences in reputation between “tradies” in New Zealand and craftsmen in Europe. It is, indeed, true that the same profession may have very different prestige and reputation in different countries. I was personally surprised during my time in Australia to find that “tradies, unlike their often bourgeois German counterparts would mostly be very good-looking guys with a cool hair- and life style and a surfboard on their cars so that in between two customers they would hop on their boards and enjoy the surf. On page 3 of cheap newspapers you would sometimes even find the picture of a shirtless “tradie of the month”.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 14 October
In today’s show, we put our emphasis on working cultures, both, in digital work contexts and in face-to-face team work.
Whether you prefer to work in a hierarchical context or whether you prefer to work collaboratively – we sometimes end up in workplaces which do not leave the choice to us. Are you aware of the working culture that surrounds you? Do you appreciate it or would you change it if you could? Do you notice that you have an impact on this culture, too?
We hear about different email cultures and discover that yes – your email may show your personal writing style – but that your email also says a lot about the working culture of your company or your institution. Our interviewees fill us in on their opinions regarding the perfect email. We learn that signals which indicate whether the message is well structured and can easily be read and dealt with are quite important and that preference is often given to those messages which have a “speaking” subject line.
Different working cultures in face-to-face teamwork are explored. Jean Lennox of the University of Applied Sciences in Mönchengladbach, Germany, reports about an international excursion with university students to Posnan, Poland, which confronts them with the difficulties of working in groups of European students from various countries. We learn that intercultural tests of what we expect of the working cultures of other countries can bring up interesting results.
Nora Müller, who is going to the Netherlands for her practical training, gives us some insights into her preparations for her stay abroad and tells us that she believes that going to a neighboring country in Europe is still a big step.
Dr. Cruickshank from Scotland and Clementina Poposka from Macedonia came to Germany as lecturers under the “teaching staff mobility” program. We get to hear what they hope to gain from their academic mobility and in which way universities in their home countries differ from what they experienced during their visit.
The next show will be coming to you on 19 September from Anne Fox in Denmark.
In today’s show the emphasis is on students who decide to spend some quality time abroad. What are their choices, how do students need to prepare themselves, when should they start with their intercultural preparations? Most students, whether they take a Bachelor or a Master course, have the opportunity to go abroad for some time during their studies. Our interviewees tell us what the benefits of such a study abroad period can be.
At most universities the international offices try to highlight students’ opportunities for going abroad by celebrating an international week at least once a year. The university invites representatives from their partner universities who can then explain and advertise their study programmes and answer specific student questions concerning the best choice of courses, the credit points which students can gain during their stay abroad and also questions concerning accommodation or living costs in their countries. Listen to Prof. Henzler, president of the University of Applied Sciences Koblenz as she welcomes the delegations from the different partner universities on the first day of the international week.
From the student perspective the presence of the foreign guests offers a number of opportunities. They can follow lectures in foreign languages, can get to know teachers and administrators from the partner university before they arrive there and make informed choices as to which university would be the best one to go to. We listen to one of the student representatives of the “go-out”-initiative (German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD). Gerrit tells us that he sees the main benefits of these periods abroad in the fact that they create new and unexpected opportunities to expand your own personality and that well-documented experience abroad is a great plus when you are looking for a new job – because it seems to be a strong signal to the prospective employer that you are motivated, flexible, and that you show initiative and speak foreign languages.
Most universities have orientation weeks where all foreign students get together and get basic information or do excursions around the university in order to facilitate their integration. Some universities have “buddy programs” where the incoming foreign students are paired with local students whose task it is to integrate the newcomers as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Adelheid Korpp, who is in charge of the “incoming students” at RheinAhrCampus tells us what the university offers to make sure that the students from the partner universities have the best start, get integrated quickly and, if possible, feel at home in their new surroundings right from the beginning of their stay.
Students should prepare themselves interculturally for their stay abroad before they arrive at their new destination. Barbara Neukirchen, who looks after the “outgoing students” at RheinAhrCampus and coaches them during their application process for universities and scholarships tells us how students can plan a successful stay abroad if only they start the planning phase early enough.
In our last interview Carsten Ritterath a Bachelor 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 will be to compare English and German approaches to health management in companies. Carsten has applied for a scholarship 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. We are keeping our fingers crossed for him to get the scholarship in the end because accommodation in London can be quite expensive.
Our next show will be coming to you on 22 August from Anne Fox in Denmark.
“Germans are all punctual but don’t have a sense of humor, people from Great Britain do and always have their tea at 5 pm in the afternoon, Italian men pick up girls all the time, the French eat baguette, cheese and frogs’ legs. Women can’t drive cars and men simply cannot listen, young people are irresponsible because they get drunk all the time and old people are terribly inflexible.” You could easily continue this list about any nationality, age, gender, political or sexual orientation. Stereotypes are pre-fabricated phrases to generalize about certain groups of people. But how are they generated? Do they have any practical use in daily life or are they just wrong and useless? Are their fixed for all time once they have been established or can they change over time? In this show, we try to find some answers to these questions about stereotypes.
absolutely Spanish: Emma Cuevas-Saunders, who is an ERASMUS student from Spain, has been studying and doing a practical training in Germany for about a year now. She tells us about her experiences with stereotypes in Spain and how prejudices about Germans almost prevented her from going abroad. We also learn that Spain, known as a nation marked by national pride, actually is divided into many different sub-groups, which each have stereotypes about the other groups. However, as Emma says, this is a rather positive aspect, because it demonstrates Spanish diversity and these stereotypes are also used as a conversation starter. But first, she tells us, that all Spaniards have discovered a new pastime: They like to sit on the beach and guess the nationality of the tourists, but perhaps this is also a stereotype?
absolutely Mexican-American: In our second category we talk with Susana, who has her roots in Mexico, lives in the United States and currently is studying in Germany for one year. Although she is probably the expert on this topic, we thought she tends to underestimate the popularity of her two “home countries”, thinking that they are not very much liked in the world. We learn that stereotypes really can change over time, if people like Susana have the courage to go abroad, make their own experiences and afterwards, tell people about it.
absolutely Austrian: We speak to Dr. Nicole Slupetzky from “Volkshochschule Salzburg” (institute of adult education) about the challenges connected with harmful stereotypes and the opportunities of friendly ones. While friendly stereotypes can provide you with conversation topics and sometimes make these conversations run more smoothly, harmful stereotypes can be responsible for hate and racism. Nicole emphasizes that it is important to talk about these stereotypes, to learn about the affected groups and sometimes even to laugh about these statements together. We discuss that, of course, we shouldn’t believe every stereotype we hear, because they can be produced in many different ways, by the media, the family or even education.