absolutely intercultural 55 +++ encouraging “benign whacky individualism” +++ European women in Arabic countries +++ Insha’Allah +++ learning Arabic +++

Women smoking Shisha in a back room of a cafe in Cairoabsolutely individualistic:
We talk to Jennifer, an American professor for Eastern European Politics at a liberal arts college in Beirut, Lebanon. She tries to encourage her students to develop a more critical and individualistic attitude, which she has missed personally since she left the US. She wants her Lebanese students, but in fact students all around the world, to be at least a little bit more revolutionary, to question the status quo and to express their personality with a “benign whacky individualism”.

absolutely female:
For women travellers to some Arabic countries often the most normal things can turn into an exciting cultural adventure. Emma travelled to Syria and Jordan with her sisters and shares with us some everyday occurrences for European women travelling in some Arabic countries. We are able to relive her anxieties at the check-in at the airport when she gets separated from her sisters, her problems getting served in a restaurant and even a confrontation with some seven years old kids with machine guns, apparently serving some kind of military service.

absolutely timeless:
We learn from Maris, who went from Latvia to Egypt why time is less important in Egypt sometimes. He tells us, that every time you hear the very common expression “Insha’Allah” in an Arabic country you should try to remain as relaxed as the Arabs. This frequently-used expression means that everything will happen as and when Allah wants it to happen, and is a good explanation when a train or a bus come late and you will soon recognize, that life can be easier if you just accept this fact.

absolutely basic:
Cultural misunderstandings often arise from language barriers and a lack of cultural interests. Beatrice explains to us how you can make your journey to an Arabic country a lot more enjoyable if you learn only a few phrases of the Arabic language. You will not only open a lot of doors to the warm and friendly Arabic hosts, but you will also defuse culturally-based stress situations. Showing interest in the foreign culture will distinguish you from the ordinary tourists and people will start to invite you to their homes.

absolutely champion:
Absolutely Intercultural has been nominated for a Danish podcasting award because every other AI show is produced in Denmark. If we are to have a chance of winning then we need more nominations before we get to the voting stage! So if you like what you hear then send a mail to nominering@podcasterprisen.dk with the following details:
Name of the podcaster(s): Anne Fox

RSS feed of the podcast (if you know it): http://feeds.feedburner.com/absolutely-intercultural

URL of the podcast: http://www.absolutely-intercultural.com

Nominator’s name and email address (to take part in a prize draw of nominators)

Reason for nomination: optional but you can explain why the podcaster deserves the nomination
Deadline for this first round is May 12th. If your Danish is good you can read more at http://www.podcasterprisen.dk/

The next show will be coming to you on 2 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 53 +++ Borrowed Identities Part II +++ Image Projection +++ Scholarship Selections +++

borrowed identities logoabsolutely student-centred
Picking up the subject of our last podcast, today we try to look at another aspect of the same Intensive Programme “Borrowed Identities” which took place in Achill Island, Ireland and brought together 40 learners from all over Europe. We asked two of the students about how the international mix in their cottages and workshops contributed to their intercultural learning. Assja Tietz from Germany and Emma Cuevas from Spain share their experiences about international leadership and teamwork in a community project in internationally mixed teams under time-pressure and in an foreign environment and tell us what they took home from Achill Island for their professional and personal future.

absolutely changeable
Maria Koehnen recently returned home from her second stay abroad this time studying at Lessius Hogeschool in Antwerp, Belgium, and tells us that a semester abroad is not only about learning a new language, but above all about making personal experiences which can change your whole life. We learn how her fellow students benefitted from the opportunity to try out a completely new life style during a semester abroad and how important it is to learn the lesser learned languages such as Dutch.

absolutely successful
Going abroad, whether as a student or as an intern, requires a lot of preparation and both, independent work and professional help. Barbara Neukirchen, an expert in coaching students with their scholarship applications or their semester abroad tells us how the university can help a student to find the right scholarship and what a perfect application should contain. She stresses that the overall picture that the student projects is often more important than just a list of good academic achievements.

absolutely contageous
When you go abroad personal support from your friends, your family or your partner is propably as important as professional advice about scholarships, learning agreements, or visa regulations. We hear from Peter Kron how he helped his girlfriend with her preparations for a semester abroad in China and how this process influenced his own educational future. He seems to have been infected by the “virus” and is now planning his own stay at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas

absolutely linguistic
In her new and hopefully regular column, Maria Koenen explains, how a simple litte booklet and a pen in your pocket can be a real help when you are in a foreign country and try to improve your language skills.

The next show will be coming to you on the 4 April from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 51 +++ Texas Part II +++ Friesenhaus +++ emigrating to Germany +++

Texan Cowboy Hats in Austin

With a number of intercultural stories and some music left from my Christmas trip to New Braunfels, Texas I somehow felt forced to produce a second show about the German Belt in Texas. The emphasis is on the reasons why Germans have emigrated to Texas and the reputation of Germans in the USA.

absolutely unlimited
People did not only emigrate in the 19th century as in our example in show 49, but also today many leave their homes and friends in the hope of better opportunities in the United States. Günther and Cornelia Dirks tell us how they went to Texas to put into practice their dream of opening a German restaurant called “The Friesenhaus” and why their philosophy of “Just do whatever you Dreams are” did not work for them back in Germany.

absolutely claustrophobic
Leaving Berlin during the Cold War, Klaus joined first the Canadian, later on the American Army to feel the freedom to move around. His wife Edith, still cooking and speaking German better than English just felt that Berlin with the wall around it was too claustrophobic, or “eng” as she likes to say.

absolutely unpronounceable
Laurent tells us how words like “Schleswig-Holstein-Schnitzel”, “Oma’s Haus”, or “Schlitterbahn” belong to the daily vobabulary of Texans and asks the owners of the restaurant if the Americans really like the Germans so much, that they use German stereotypes for their business.

absolutely un-German
Finally, there are, of course, also people who immigrate to Germany because they searched for a new challenge or just liked the idea of living there. Our studio guest Jean Lennox came to Germany in the 70ies and developed what she calls “a-long-time-love-and-hate-relationship”, staying somehow British, but also absorbing some of the best German characteristics. Will she go back when she retires?

The next show will be coming to you on 7 March from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 49 +++ Texas is a state of mind +++ American-German genealogy +++ travelling with Servas +++


rows and rows of Cowboy boots int a shop in Austin, Texasabsolutely Texas
Gosh – the internet seems to put not just the world, but also our family history, at our finger tips. I noticed this on my last trip to Texas. People from all over the world do research in the Sophienburg Museum and Archives to find their ancestors. A family of three generations in 2008 find their roots in New Braunfels. Volunteer organisations help us to travel the world with a “very restricted budget”.

absolutely unbelievable
Laurent tells us about an unbelievable coincidence he witnessed during his stay in Texas. An American family of three generations makes a trip to an immigration museum in New Braunfels between Austin and St. Antonio to do some research with the help of an old photograph which shows their family house. To everybody’s astonishment this turns out to be the very house the director of the museum lives in. All this unfolds while the microphone is running …

absolutely Texan-German
Linda Dietert, a true “Texan-German” tells us about the history of the Texas settlers in the 1850s. Their descendants, some of whom still speak some German after all these generations, are often happy to talk about their background in the “old world” and keep up some of the old traditions such as sausage-making . But of course a Texan “Bratwurst” does not have the same taste as its German relatives – and why should it?

absolutely hospitable
Agnes tells us about the “Hospitality Club” where you can find places to stay for your next journey if you cannot afford to pay for accommodation on your travels. Adelheid Korpp provides detailed information about “Servas” a non-profit organization which also puts you in contact with hosts around the world and she shares her experiences with us. We hear about hosts who give out their keys to guests whom they have never seen before or offer their own cars instead of telling you where to rent one. This Servas-spirit of sharing is meant to “foster new insight, knowledge and tolerance of others”.

The next show will be coming to you on 8 February from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The hosts of this show are: Dr. Laurent Borgmann and Agnes Dus
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 47 +++ New Year‘s Eve +++ New Year‘s resolutions +++ NYE in Denmark +++ Dinner For One +++


Fireworks over Cologne
This show will be dealing with all kinds of New Year’s Celebrations, rituals and traditions in Denmark, France, and Germany.
absolutely repetitive
Here you can learn from Beatrice which experiences she made with New Year’s resolutions and her list which she unfortunately has not put into practice yet. She also introduces us to the ritual of melting metals as a way to forecast the New Year.



absolutely French
In France – the land of fabulous meals and the home of „haute cuisine“ food is one of the main aspects of a special occasion like NYE. Michael tells us that he spends this night with his friends after having dinner with his family.

absolutely mad
Anne talks about forgetting all good behavior on that night as a ritual in Denmark. In some cases it is even necessary to take all the goods out of the shop windows to make sure nothing will be damaged. We learn everything about playing tricks and blowing up postboxes as well as the personal resolution to teach her daughters French. She also talks about the new experience of fireworks which she didn’t know from her time in Britain.

absolutely non-British
Andreas tells us about another German NYE-tradition: It is very common, to have „Dinner for One“ in that particular night. It looks like a British TV-show – but it is in fact a German comedy-sketch about an old lady celebrating her 90th Birthday and her butler James who is doing his best to make her feel comfortable. Andreas, like Anne did earlier, talks about the private fireworks which are very common in Germany.

The team of absolutely intercultural wishes all of you a Happy New Year!

The next show will be coming to you on 11 January from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 45 +++ music as a universal language +++ international festivals +++ Colors of Cologne +++ music as the ultimate way of expressing feelings +++ music as a tool for integration +++

In this show you will hear about situations in which music played an important role connecting people from different cultures, to overcome language barriers or to express feelings for which words would not be adequate.

absolutely universal
Anne Fox our co-host from Denmark, tells us why music is often so helpful when other languages fail. Music is often seen as a universal language, however, in her experience this is not always the case…

absolutely international
In the second part of the show we will look into International Festivals which have become more and more popular over the last years. During those festivals tens or hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world sing, dance and live together internationally for a few days. The Sziget Festival in Hungary is a special one, because it is held on an island in Budapest, so the “absolutely international islanders” literally live in the heart of the capital city. Michael Darde, a French student, tells us how he saw it as a tourist and Agnes Dús from Hungary shares her experiences about taking part as a local.

absolutely colorful
In Cologne on the Rhine foreigners from 20 different countries have been singing together in a choir, called “Colors of Cologne”, for the last eight years. Most of the participants report that they joined the choir in order to integrate better in their new environment and to make friends faster. We will also listen to their music!

absolutely spontaneous
Sarah is a student for whom music has a special importance in her life: she plays the piano and writes her own songs. Music helped her make friends more easily, especially during her stay in the US, and also it is the best way for her to express her feelings.

absolutely together
In the last part of the show Emma Cuevas Saunders, a Spanish student, tells us about how singing helped her integrate into the group in a school summer camp in England. She experienced that when words are not enough music comes in and becomes an alternative kind of language.

Our co-host today is Agnes Dús from Budapest in Hungary, student of the Corvinus University of Budapest.

The next show will be coming to you on the 14 December from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Co-host: Agnes Dús
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 43 +++ Flying a plane is all about communication +++ intercultural card game BARNGA +++ Myers-Briggs-Test

Laurent as the BARNGA facilitator
In this show we will point you to two very different ways of becoming more aware of your personality and what your spontaneous reactions are when getting in touch with people whose cultural rules are different.

“absolutely up in the air”
Our first guest is Simon Brown, a former airline captain with British airways, who tells us how the Myers-Briggs personality test, which was used to make pilots more aware of their different personality styles, opened his eyes.

“absolutely simulated”
BARNGA is a card game, which simulates the experience of meeting people from other cultures and working with them. It was played a group of 25 students from several different countries at the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, RheinAhrCampus. During the game the students sit at five different tables which are separated from each other. They play a card game with the rules they received on a written sheet at the beginning. When the actual game starts no more verbal communication is allowed. The students have to find alternative ways of communication if they want to play together, such as gestures, facial expression or drawing pictures…

“absolutely confusing”
We will look at what happens when you go through the intercultural simulation in practice. Some students seem to be pretty sure that they play according to the “only valid” rules, while others seem to be a little confused…

“absolutely eye-opening”
In the last part of our show we will return to the airport in Bangkok to Simon and the Myers-Briggs Personality Test in British Airways. Laurent asks Simon whether the test itself and the feed-back he received from his colleagues in the famous envelope had been useful for him. Had it changed his view about himself?

Our co-host today is Agnes Dús from Budapest in Hungary, student of the Corvinus University of Budapest. You may remember her from the interviews she made in Ireland for show number 25. She will co-host the shows from Remagen until Christmas.

The next show will be coming to you on the 16 November from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Co-host: Agnes Dús
Editor: Mathias Knops
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absolutely intercultural 41 +++ intercultural weddings +++ conventions for accepting food +++ my big fat Lebanese wedding +++

In this show we are going to look into which parts of our culture we have to re-think or even leave behind when we get married. We have entertaining stories from Lebanon, the United States, Hungary, and Spain and even from our own lives.

absolutely Swiss-French-Lebanese
Our first guest is Stéphane Bazan, lecturer at the Université St. Joseph, who is French and got married to his Lebanese bride in Biblos near Beirut. He tells us about the cultural conventions preceding his wedding which turned into a happy cultural mix for him and his French and Swiss family but also for his new Lebanese in-laws.

absolutely prepared
Jennifer is an American university lecturer who got married to her Lebanese husband in the United States. She remembers thinking about what cultural clashes could arise from the different customs and attitudes of her Lebanese and American families. She even went as far as giving some private intercultural lessons to prepare her family and her Lebanese in-laws for the happy day.

absolutely Mars vs. absolutely Venus
Agnes Dús, Laurent Borgmann, and Mathias Knops had a round table discussion about “leaving one’s own culture behind” where they tell their own stories about how difficult it can get when two persons from different cultures decide to stay together for life. Finally they had to admit that sometimes it is not the national culture which creates problems, simply the fact that men and women come from different planets: men are from Mars and women from Venus.

absolutely Big Fat Wedding
In the last part of our show we will get back to Stéphane, who tells us what cultural challenges he had to face before his “Big Fat Lebanese Wedding” with 800 guests! During the process he sometimes felt a considerable cultural gap between his families, as if he was not from France but from the other side of the world.

Our co-host today is Agnes Dús from Budapest in Hungary, student of the Corvinus University of Budapest. You may remember her from the interviews she made in Ireland for show number 25. She will co-host the shows from Remagen until Christmas.

The next show will be coming to you on the 19 October from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Co-host: Agnes Dús
Editor: Mathias Knops

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