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Our 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?
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”.
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?
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!
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The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Younes Jaber