‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #1

In our first show we take you along to Leon in the North of Spain. Some guest in a tapas bar tell us about the social aspects of the tapas culture. Dot from Sweden wonders when Spanish people ever get their sleep and Indre from Lithuania tells us the heart-breaking story of a Lithuanian basket-baller and his Israeli girlfriend who have different religions and whose wedding plans are overshadowed by gossip in their respective countries.

The Hosts of the show are: Anne Fox and Dr. Elmar-Laurent Borgmann

Chief Editor: Karsten Kneese (the pod-Karsten)


32 thoughts on “‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #1”

  1. I had a similar experience around lunch time in Spain. My mother and I, while on a cruise, we wandering our the city, I honestly don’t remember the name of the city, looking for somewhere to eat. We had only one day in Spain and were anxiously looking for some of the famous Spanish food. It must have been around 1:00. We finally ended up in McDonalds!! out of desperation, there was absolutly nothing else! A little disapointing but an important lesson in Spanish culture.

  2. Hi, Anne, Elmar and all,

    Thank you for having opened up this very interesting option aimed at sharing intercultural issues… I love it!
    I’m an EFL teacher in Argentina, member of “Webhead in Action”, the online community of practice doing research on CMC tools and their application in language learning.

    So many topics to share…, very difficult to choose one…
    To add sth on “when the Spanish people sleep….”, I can tell you that Argentina is a good example of a question which has no answer…;-)
    Many bars here, some restaurants and cafes never sleep…, that is, either the owners themselves take turns to take in or they hire people to serve the public. The question is that whatever the time of the day, if you suffer from insomnia you’ll find a corner to share your time with likeminded beings in the same boat…Fun, isn’t it?

    That’s definitely an inhereted custom from our mother country Spain, amongst some other traits…;-)

    We, the working people, sometimes resent that, as living near a cafe which is never closed affects neighbours… Motorcycles roar at times in the midle of the night, some drunk customers may be a veritable sight…
    And then the obligatoty “siesta” to make up for the missed sleeping hours… Don´t dare to phone a night owl at 3 pm. It’s his sleeping time!

    I’d like to read about your views on this aspect of the Spanish culture. And I know many would not approve of it…Neither do I and many other people, believe me!!!

    Look forward to your thoughts,


  3. Such fun to hear these recordings after a while back home. I’m part of this course and was indeed a bit hungry now and then when in Spain – especially on those days I had on my own. My Danish meal habits are very different, regarding the hours as well as the food. Tapas was fun, but also surprising and for an everyday meal, it would not do for me. And I had a very fun and puzzling experience on a very rainy Sunday afternoon when I came back from the Musac museum of modern art (where they close between 3 and 4 in the afternoon). I arrived at the hostel gate where you had to ring a bell, and it took an eternity before a woman I had never seen at the reception before, turned up, looking extremely uninviting, only opening the door a little bit. letting me know that I could not get in! I acted as a stupid foreigner who did not understand one word of Spanish (which is not absolutely truealthough you should not ask me to say anything with more that just three words in a sentence, and I might not get the answer anyway). At the moment I did not dig what was her problem, and I forced my way through the door, and then she appprocahed the counter, trying to convince me at least I could not get my room key no. 28. Indeed the glass cupboard was locked. I insisted,and finally she gave up and handed me the key with a very disapproving face. Perhaps she was just recovering from the late midnight mass in the church that I had attended as an intruding tourist with two friends the night before, none of us being completely sober after a very succesful tapas bar visit with more solid food than usual. As an absolutely non catholic brought up as an atheist and only occasionally attending a protestant service for a wedding or a funeral, it was a quite exotic expererience. I was totally immersed into the church community and suiddenly heard myself sing and pray with everyone in a Spanish language that I do not otherwise speak. And, at the breakfast room on Monday morning at 8am, nobody was present to serve me as usual, and my travel mates had left – so at last I had to help myself directly from the kitchen regions! Probably the kitchen staff does not start very early. In Denmark, you would expect breakfast to be served from 6.30 am on weekdays!
    interculturally yours, Sus

    PS The spiced and grilled wild mushroom tapas were the most delicious of all of them!

  4. We are two spanish girls and we have some ideas that we want to say about Spain.

    The first one is about the tapas. Almost of bars in any city in Spain give you a tapa when you get your drink. It´s something typical. Althought, it doesn´t mean you can´t eat in a restaurant. In fact, Spain is very famous because of its food. So, please, when you come here, dont eat in a Mcdonald…

    The second things is about the siesta. Not all the spanish stop their work at 3 o clock to take the siesta. Only when you have free time. And, try it… is great!!

    Other thing is the night life. It´s true all the things: Spain has a great night life, mainly in capital cities like Madrid, Barcelona or Granada.

    Anyway, spanish people are very nice and we like the tourist, so.. we wait you this summer!!

  5. first of all we are teenagers students. If you want to try a tipical spanish dish you must have been advised by someone but its not difficult to find a good restaurant.

  6. we are two spanish students and we think that i’ts not a mystery. it’s completely impossible to eat or only go everyday on a tapas bar because of money,time and health.
    Our day starts later than in other european countries but it also finishes later. We don’t sleep siesta during the day (nearly anyone does) because there’s not enough time to it. But it’s true that we like to relax and sleep a bit after having lunch at the weekend.
    But if you only come to visit Spain you can enjoy all these fantastic habits and customs.

  7. Hi everybody, we re two spanish students. I don’t know where have you heard all that but we re going to give you for free our point of view based on our experience. About the eating habits, we use to have a tapa with our friends or family and after that we have lunch at home or in a restaurant because we also have restaurants in Spain. Tapas is just a good way to get an apetite, its like the preliminars, something original. To end with, the siesta is a relaxing way to continue working hard because in Spain apart from having fun, we work. Refering to the time habits, in Spain, like in the rest of Europe you have to get used to it if you don’t want to be or look like a real foreigner.

  8. Hi!!we are two teenagers girls and we can ilustrate you of all the spanish habits.
    Siesta is a kind of break that most of spanish like to do after eating,its not only because we are tired its also done beacuse of the weather , its to hot outside in summer.

    Tapas is not a way of eating its only an entrance before you eat the meal (like snacks.. but better taste!!).Tourist used to think that tapas are the only typical spanish food,and that is not true. They can also find good meals like paella or spanish omellete also.

    We sleep until late because we love to enjoy the night . Spain is the best country to get fun!”
    we hope you come more often to this beautiful and welcome country!

  9. Taking a siesta after lunch sounds weird, but what about not taking it?

    I am Spanish, but I work in Germany. Probably not taking a nap was one big challenge. Even though some of my colleagues have a frugal lunch, others do enjoy a proper meal (in Spanish terms.)
    How the latter manage to sit in a conference room, fully awake and concentrated, remains a secret to me. As far as I am concerned, just a light meal makes the trick.

    To the ‘absolutely intercultural!’ team, keep it up!

  10. Dear Anne and Elmar

    I have to say that I was very happy when I read an e-mail saying that a podcast had been created on Intercultural communication and that it “won’t be so much about passing on information”. I expected it not to give stereotypes, generalisations based on one or two speakers-“witnesses”. Unfortunately, it seems that your first episode is precisely like that.

    As a linguist, let me remind you the dangers of “using” a few witnesses to talk about “others” (you actually tend to go for the “we’re talking about CULTURES, not INDIVIDUALS” paradigm). Narrating about others is “positioning” oneself. People tend to lie, exaggerate and generalise when they are asked to talk about their intercultural experiences… that’s part of the identification game. Besides, what they have to say will usually depend on who they are talking to, where they are (native country or “host” country), their own subjectivity and perception, etc. What I heard about the tapas bars fits exactly this picture and in a way influences what your listeners will be thinking (intertextuality, doxa) before they go to Spain. Is that helping intercultural communication? I doubt it very much.

    Absolutely intercultural won’t do miracles if 1. representations on others are deconstructed, 2. you move away from the “all exotic”, 3. you modify your phrasing of questions (which give ready-made answers).

    In a way, I think your show will have a valuable value for my students who will have free access to corpora on intercultural communication. You are offering them opportunities to analyse discourse on otherness…

    One final thing: People are not cultures and cultures are not people. Cultures are discursive and people “unprogrammed” individuals.
    Toni, Norway

  11. Hi Toni
    As it happens we are planning a Nordic theme for one of our upcoming shows and we would very much like to be able to discuss with you whether you or your students could make a contribution. But the email you used to make your comment does not function so how can we get in touch with you?

  12. Hi All,

    I wonder if anyone else found the discussion about inter-racial marriages and children being of mixed-race a bit strange.

    I have always heard/used the terms mixed-ethnicity.

    Is there such thing as races in people? (I read something about studies into linguistics are proving race to be a myth) Are there any connotations associated with the terms that we should be aware of?


  13. You are right. Race is a biological term and the balance of opinion seems to be that there are no distinct human races, more a continuum of differences with no clearly defined boundaries. A great link exploring this continuum is at http://www.pbs.org/race/002_SortingPeople/002_00-home.htm

    Podcasts are bound by looser rules and conventions than broadcasts and I think what you heard in the Bob’n’Rob show was just spontaneous conversation. People don’t always control what they say. Don’t forget also that they rejected the term inter-racial in favour of bi-cultural!

  14. Hi! We’re two spanish students from Madrid. Tapas are typical from Spain but we don’t have them every day, only when we go out with friends or family usually at weekend, but the rest of the week, we eat less fatty food.
    About the siesta, it’s typical too but not everybody can sleep at that time because they have others things to do (like work or study).

  15. HI!!I would like to say that I completely agree with Anita.
    What she sais resumes perfectly the spirit of SPAINISH CULTURE!!

  16. i’m a sppanish student and I want to talk about McDonalds. I really hate them because the meat is from rats or dead human bodies. It taste extremely disgussing if you compare with a tapa or a spanish meal so I recomend you not to miss this opportunity.

    So if you come here you don’t hesitate to eat in a traditional spanish restaurant.Also don’t forget to sleep a reconfortable siesta after lunch!!!!!!


  17. Siesta is the most important habit in ESPAÑA, because without siesta I couldn`t exist. Everybody should prove it, when somebody give up hacer la siesta …..

  18. hello friends i think spain is the greatest country in the world. and the best of all are the tapas bars because you can eat good food and go on the pull at the same time. here in spain the girls are very beautifull and also very nice. other good thing about going to tapas bar is drinking a little of red wine that is very healthy,but not drink to much because you can get drunk

  19. I love spanish tapas because are the best in the world and the ´re the only ones , mc donals is junk food , but mediterranean is very healthy.
    and eat spanish tapas.

  20. We are two Spanish girls and we want to tell something about “siesta”. There are a lot of people who sleep after meal (with the stomach full of food)but not all the Spanish people like these habits.
    Marta: in my case I don’t like to sleep “siesta” because when I wake up very angry and I prefer to spent my time on other things more interesting like read a book, going to the cinema or shopping…
    Ana: I like sleeping very much but I don’t have enough time to sleep, when I have free time I prefer to spend it chatting or going out with my friends.
    So all the Spanish have the same habits

  21. eii what´s up???
    we think that the tapas and the spanish bars are really good. we are now at the english claas and we have been discussing about the typical costums of our country, and we have come to the conclusion that other countries must adopt this costum, because is a social habit which may be able to help all the people to leave the stress out. this is our opinion

    ¡¡¡¡ WE LOVE YOU ¡¡¡¡¡¡

  22. Hi,
    I am Spanish and I live in madrid.
    I don’t agree with “Dot” when she says that Spanish people don’t take siestas – at least my mum does, and my friends and I have one whenever we can. I think it is a good way to be relaxed and to work better in the afternoon.
    Everybody should take one!
    I am not one of those people who think that everything is better in Spain, but I don’t agree with British opening hours either. I think the Spanish method is better – you can shop in the morning, have your lunch (and let the others have theirs), and then go back shopping in the afternoon. As my friend Aaron says, he was really annoyed that he couldn’t go shopping after school!

  23. Hello everyone

    Here’s another opinion from a Spaniard who lives and works in Madrid. We like to strongly defend what we consider part of our culture, like tapas and siesta, which I think would account for the various responses here saying that we all sleep after lunch.

    However, most people go to work or school/university during the week and I bet hardly anyone has time for a siesta, except maybe elderly people and babies (children do sleep siesta every day after lunch until they start school at the age of 3).

    Weekends are different so there is more of a chance that people might take a nap after lunch, which you’d often take in the sofa while you watch TV, and usually does not go on for hours. We do not actually put on our pyjamas and go to bed for siesta, as some people might like to think.

    As for tapas, as someone has said, these are small snacks served free in most bars with your beer or wine. You cannot really eat off tapas. But we also have ‘Raciones’ which I think is what people at the Leon bar where actually referring to. Raciones are portions of food served in a plate shared by all, and you would normally order various dishes depending on the amount of people. The difference between tapas and raciones would be size, basically, tapas are small snacks and usually free.

    Raciones can be of anything, really. Some of the most typical raciones would include cured ham, boiled shrimps (typical from Andalucia in the south), boiled octopus with paprika (typical from Galicia in the north west), small fish fried in olive oil… In the Basque country at the north, the typical snack is slices of bread (French bread) with all sorts of food combinations on it, e.g. smoked salmon and baby eel. etc etc. There is really a huge variety which you musn’t miss if you come to Spain.

  24. This is to let you know that my students at British Council Madrid Young Learners Centre, who were among the first to comment on your original show from Leon about tapas and siestas in Spain, were greatly impressed by the podcast. They were also pleased and motivated by their comments being read out on the next show – so much so in fact that they then produced some video podcasts of their own. These talk about Spanish food and Madrid nightlife among other things and they would be thrilled if you could drop by and look at them. You can find them at:

    MYLC podcasts – http://mylcpodcasts.blogspot.com/

    We hope you enjoy watching them as much as we enjoyed making them.

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