absolutely intercultural 93 +++ culture shock +++ stereotypes +++ Carmel Vaisman +++ Samar Samir Mezghanni +++


peach and coconutEven if we expect differences when we travel or meet foreigners in our own countries – the best and most intensive intercultural learning is always accompanied by small culture shocks. Our show today will focus on the Anna Lindh Foundation and in particular two young, influencial bloggers from Israel and Tunisia who I met in Luxemburg at the bloggers’ meeting, so our main topic will be the “culture of blogging”. We will also hear about an American exchange student at RheinAhrCampus and her stereotypes about Germany. Oh yes, and we will be talking about peaches and coconuts!

absolutely confused
I met Erin from Texas and she told me about her experiences in Europe and why she suffered a culture shock or maybe several small shocks at the beginning. She noticed that we use very different street signs and traffic lights from the US and that we drive such tiny cars. But also, the everyday behaviour of people in the street struck her as rather different. When you meet Germans for the first time they don’t appear as friendly as Americans but once you have got to know them as friends it seems that you’ll never lose this friendship over time. Let us hear what emotions Erin had and how she confronted these confusing situations.

absolutely fruitful
As you heard, it takes Germans a little longer to “open up” to foreigners, whereas in the US it seems much easier to get in contact with people. Some intercultural scholars describe this well-known phenomenon in a comparison with the fruits, peaches and coconuts. “Peach-people” are all nice soft, smiling, and sweet on the outside and it is easy to get in touch with them and have a pleasant, initial conversation but afterwards you may hit a hard kernel in the middle and this seems almost impossible to penetrate. These people may be very friendly when you meet them as complete strangers, for example on public transport, but would perhaps not dream of letting you into their inner circle of friends or invite you to their family homes.
On the other hand you have the “Coconut-people” who have their hard and sometimes unwelcoming shell on the outside. So when you meet them for the first time they seem unfriendly and reserved. However, once you have penetrated that hard shell you will find out that they are much softer and sweeter on the inside.
Often Germans experience Americans as “peaches” and Americans see Germans as “coconuts”.

absolutely half baked
Now I’d like to introduce you to Carmel Vaisman, a communication scholar from Israel who I met at the bloggers’ training in Luxemburg. Carmel is a passionate blogger, very busy sharing her very interesting experiences in Israel and abroad with others in the world. Most recently we heard about her “find Lost”-experiences in Hawaii.

absolutely writing
I’ll present you another really astonishing young blogger Samar Samir Mezghanni from Tunisia. She has been writing children’s books since she was 10 years old – so at the time she was a child herself. What an interesting idea to publish children’s books written by other children who are barely older than themselves. This way Samar gained an entry into the Guinness book of world records as “Youngest Writer in the World” and two years later as “Youngest Most Prolific Writer in the World”. I had the privilege of meeting her in person and experiencing this bundle of energy. She told me about what kind of stories she writes about, what gave her the idea to write children’s books and how she became a blogger.

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

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Dino Nogarole

absolutely intercultural 83 +++ experience of studying and working in Germany +++ stereotypes +++ International Fair +++

Lubica at RheinAhrCampus

absolutely fresh:
When I speak to my students about planning a semester abroad one of my first tasks is usually to make them figure out strategically, what would be better for them– studying at one of our partner universities or doing an internship in a company abroad? Both options have their advantages. Today, I am speaking to Lubica Kuboveova who spent her last semester at RheinAhrCampus. She actually did both at the same time – studying and working abroad. I asked her how she managed to combine studying and working in Germany during her semester abroad and she tells us about her experiences. Lubica points out an important opportunity that she had when she came over. She could make a fresh start as nobody in the new place knew her before – and this allowed her to try out a fresh role in life.

absolutely unprepared:
What do students need to work on before they spend time in another culture?
Ellen Rana and Erin from America suggest that knowing some of the stereotypes about the country that you are going to visit helps you as long as you are prepared to break the stereotypes as soon as you see evidence that they are not true. The stereotypes help you know a little more about the culture that you visit but they also make you reflect about your own culture.

absolutely disciplined:
During our International Week on campus I asked Prof. Mert Cubukcu, a guest professor of town planning from our Turkish partner university why he recommends Germany as a destination for his students. He thinks that the mixture of different cultures in Germany but also the strictly defined discipline of life is an attitude that is not so easy to find in other countries.

The next show will be coming to you on 29 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 65 +++ working cultures +++ email writing styles +++ excursion to Poland +++ teaching staff mobility program +++

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?

absolutely structured:
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.

absolutely international:
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.

absolutely mobile:
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.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Assistant Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 63 +++ studying abroad +++ ERASMUS placements +++ internships abroad +++ intercultural preparation +++ international week in Remagen +++ scholarships +++

logo of the \
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.

absolutely welcome: 
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. 

absolutely useful:
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.

absolutely integrated:
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.  

absolutely strategic: 
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.  

absolutely prepared:
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.

Und bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host and editor of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

absolutely intercultural 61 +++ stereotypes +++ prejudice +++ regional diversities +++ pre-fabricated phrases +++ national pride +++

\“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.

So long…stay tuned!

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

The next show will be coming to you on 25 July from Anne Fox in Denmark.

 

‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #5

In one of our first shows we asked the question: Can culture be taught? And apparently that struck a chord with many of you. We’ve been asked to follow that question up, and that is what we are going to do today.

We have two stimulating interviews with Elen Rana and Audrey Fernandez-Diehl, who give courses and seminars in intercultural communication. They will tell us their opinions and share some intercultural activities with us, which can be used to raise cultural awareness.

Right after that we talk about Geert Hofstede’s concept “Culture as the software of the mind”. It is amazing how many parallels there are between two seemingly so different things. We’ll have some more insights on that in our next shows, and we invite you to join the discussion by leaving a comment on our blog or sending us an email or an audiocomment.

We also have a new jingle, and we’d like to know how you like it. Would you like to hear your voice in it? Well, then please let us know.

By the way, this show is with 28 minutes a bit longer then the ones before, but it really is worth taking the time to listen to it.

The Host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Chief Editor: Berit Wiebe

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