Hello dear listeners and welcome to show 282 of our podcast “Absolutely Intercultural”. Today, we are going to talk about the culture of self-improvement. One way or another, most of us strive to be better than we really are. We would love to look better, be more successful and feel better than we really are. Many of us constantly try to improve ourselves our working styles and our lives: taking care of our health, searching for our purpose in life, trying to make a difference in the World, developing our skills for the workplace, and working on our private relationships. Let us assume that self-improvement is the way forward to feeling better about ourselves. But then, why do we feel so exhausted, trying to be perfect everywhere and all the time?
In our first category, “absolutely determined”, we will listen to Teona from Georgia. As she is clearly a member of the self-improvement culture, Teona already knows what she wants to have achieved in 10 years time and has identified which extra skills the “future-Teona” needs to be a member of this self-improvement culture.
In our second category, “absolutely risky”, we will hear from Beyza. She shares that in order to improve herself, she had to leave her cultural comfort zone and take the big risk of leaving her home country, Turkey.
Finally, in our last category, “absolutely aware”, we listen to Johnson from China. He tells us how the Chinese self-improvement culture encourages a strong awareness of losing face in front of others and to keep up one’s dignity. In some cases, this fear of losing face may be stronger than the fear of death.
What about you? Do you have a truly personal approach to setting your own improvement goals? What do you think about the self-improvement culture? Is it the next fashion after the fitness boom? Do you think it can really make us happy as individuals? Get in touch, and feel free to share your unique story with us here on this podcast.
Our next show will be coming to you on the 3 of March.
Until then – check your personal goals against those of the cultural bubble you live in! – and
This show is about growing stronger overseas. Maybe you’ve always dreamed about a new life or modifying your old one? You will hear about two students who used their time abroad to reinvent themselves and discover how they managed this change with SMART goals. You will be surprised how these students spent most of their energy.
Harigautham Somasundaram, from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, spent a semester at RheinAhrCampus, Germany, doing an academic internship. He explains how he moulded a new personality using a technique he learned in Germany – SMART goals. Marina, from Germany, shares her personal transformation in China. Initially, she was too scared to order food from a restaurant in China, but by the end, she was exploring the Chinese country-side far away from the trodden paths of regular tourists.
Thanks to Katie Stewart who contacted us about an interesting initiative she had heard of and which means that for the first time on Absolutely Intercultural we’ll be hearing about make-up and how that differs across cultures.
And we’ll also be going to China to find out more about the universal social monitoring that you read so much about.
In this show we’re going to be featuring a new business dedicated to making it easier for all to apply to American universities.
The company is called AdmitSee and we’ll be talking to Stephanie Shyu one of the co-founders. One of the biggest sources of students to American universities is China, where the university entrance process is quite different. So what would you do if you needed help in applying to a foreign university? In China, they often turn to an agent who charges a great deal of money to help you out with language issues and especially in writing a personal statement, which most Chinese have no experience with. The idea that Stephanie Shyu and her co-founders had, was to create a site where students who had already secured a university place could share various aspects of their successful application for a much smaller fee than an agent would charge. Continue reading “Admit See +++ China +++ France +++ study abroad +++ Absolutely Intercultural 180 +++”
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If you like the podcast then LIKE US ON FACEBOOK HERE! The FaceBook link which has generated the most interest recently was a graphic representing the intercultural skills most valued by employers which we found on the British Council’s blog. These turned out to be colleagues who understand, accept and adapt to cultural differences. So let’s see how much understanding, acceptance and adapting we hear about as we explore the social enterprise called I Go To China.
I first met Lu Yin from China in Denmark. Lu is now back in China running a group of companies which work to overcome the gap caused by poor English language teaching outside of China’s well known cities. He does this by arranging for Westerners to come and teach English to children at weekend schools as well as matching university interns with smaller Chinese companies which could use English speakers to reach a Western market. So let’s go absolutely social and hear first about the schools…and then more about Lu’s internship scheme.
We also hear from one of the teachers that Lu has recruited. I spoke to Alejandro Bueno about why he went to China to join Lu teaching English. The newest recruit is Ignasi, who, unlike Alejandro, had never been to China before his assignment with I Go To China. So there were pros and cons of going to China to teach English, to work as an intern or to do both!
So how much understanding, acceptance and adaptation did you hear? You’re welcome to leave us a comment here on our blog or on our facebook page or YouTube channel. And if you are interested in a Chinese adventure then contact me directly.
absolutely Amazon If you buy through our Amazon store you don’t pay any more while we get a little bit of the price which helps to pay our podcast costs. You will find links to our Amazon store on our Facebook page also. If you know of an item which we should add then do let us know. There is a permanent link at the top of this blog page.
My co-host Laurent Borgmann is in Turkey at the moment with some of his students undertaking a citizen journalism project so expect to hear more about that soon perhaps on August 2nd when the next show will come out. So stay tuned!
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If you like the podcast then LIKE US ON FACEBOOK HERE!
Did you know that if you are a student in a European University you are able to take part in an intensive seminar with students and lecturers from all over the EU? We’ll be hearing from some students who took part in one such seminar in Lithuania earlier this year. Did you follow Karsten Kneese on Twitter last month? Karsten took over the ’I am Germany’ Twitter account for a week early in October. One thing I learnt about during that week was the German work canteens which are open to the public. So what do you think of this as a way of representing a country? You can add your comments to our blog here or on our Facebook page. Thank you An, Vian, Sammy, Katherine and Roman who are the latest to have liked us there.
So in May, 35 students and lecturers from all over Europe gathered together in Lithuania to work together for two weeks on an intensive seminar about entrepreneurship called RECEIVE. The topics explored included marketing, intercultural differences, digital communication, coaching and critical thinking. Critical thinking not only has an application to entrepreneurs but is also an important skill for students who have been taught in quite a different way across the world.
I talked first to Serge Koukpaki from Edinburgh University, which attracts many international students each year, about why he teaches a course on critical thinking and the effect on his foreign students. Then I talked to three of the students Serge brought with him to participate in the RECEIVE project who came from China, Thailand and Tanzania to find out what they thought of bringing a diverse group together to create joint products. Guangqian Li from China spoke about his experience of working in a multinational group. I was certainly surprised to learn that this intensive seminar in Lithuania was Li’s first experience of a truly multicultural educational setting. Didn’t he have that in Edinburgh I wondered? Next I spoke to Duanjam Surbpong or Mo for short from Thailand about the benefits of the Intensive programme; extending your network is certainly a useful entrepreneurial skill. My final interview was with Hassan Iddy, a teacher trainer from Tanzania who found that the communal living aspect of the project reminded him of life in Tanzania much more than in Edinburgh where he is currently studying for his Masters.
absolutely challenging So far we’ve heard a lot of good things about the Receive project but there were also a few challenges. For example the group visited holocaust memorial museums while in Lithuania which lead to a discussion on genocide and the question about whether China’s one child policy could also be classed as genocide. For Li, whom we heard from earlier, this was a problem as he explains. And that wasn’t the only challenge. In my own workshop where we were constructing the project website, we suddenly noticed after about four days of work that all the personal photos on the website were of males. This was quite a shocking realization which lead us to review all the photos on the website as well as discussing how this could have happened. In fact it wasn’t just about photos. You may have noticed that all my interviewees in this pod cast were also male. So lots of food for thought.
If you are interested in following up the cross-border entrepreneurial theme you can join me in the free online Global Education conference on Monday 12 th November at 18:00 GMT when I’ll be showing a way of helping interns make more of their foreign posting through online skills training. All details and links will also be on our Facebook page.
And finally don’t forget that if you are interested in following up any aspect of intercultural communication we have put together a collection of books, old and new, theory and practical in the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon book store. You don’t pay any extra but we get a small contribution to help continue pay the expenses of this podcast. Now that the northern nights are drawing in, a book may be just what you need here! You don’t pay any more to buy them through our store and every purchase contributes a little to the running costs of the podcast so if you’re thinking of buying, consider using our new store. There is a permanent link at the top of this blog page.
I wonder if you can tell where I’m based just because of what I produce online! This is one of the questions we’ll be looking at in this show. We’ll also be asking whether non-native speakers of English can be examiners for a prestigious English qualification and how you can use your multi-cultural background to start a business
So we won’t be mentioning Australia in this show but we will be visiting almost every other continent. Starting in Europe, I was very honoured to be asked to be a judge in the 2011 European Podcast Award and I can’t tell you how difficult it was to decide. There are so many different types of podcast, long and short, fly on the wall documentary to fictionalised reality. Dogme-style, what you see is what you get to expertly produced with delicious sound. By the time this show comes out you’ll be able to check out who the winners are in the different categories and the different countries.
Enough on Europe, let’s start the show in China where there is a huge demand for English qualifications as young Chinese look for at least part of their training abroad. The two main exams which will show you are able to tackle a university course in English are TOEFL and IELTS. Both of these have a spoken part of the test and in the IELTS exam this is done in the presence of a real live human being instead of on computer. So does the IELTS examiner always have to be a native speaker? I spoke with Tinting Yang who now counts among her many other activities that of IELTS examiner. Let’s find out what went through her mind as she decided to apply for the job.
What is the value of internet chatter? Can you tell where someone comes from by the way they communicate online? Can you even speak about nation building as part of that online dialogue? These are some of the questions which Koleade Odutola tackled in his doctorate which has just been published as a book. The title of the book is Diaspora and imagined Nationality, and looks mainly at how Nigerians around the world define themselves and their country in their online dialogue. Koleade is himself Nigerian and has lived in the UK but mostly in the USA where he teaches at the University of Florida. Let’s go absolutely digital and find out whether online dialogue helps Nigerians define what being a Nigerian means. The sub-title is USA-Africa Dialogue and Cyberframing Nigerian Nationhood and you can buy from it the publisher as well as from the American version of Amazon.
Our final guest on the show today is a great example of how you can turn your multi-cultural heritage into a sound business proposition. Alexa Kovacs was brought up in Switzerland and is of Hungarian and British parentage and has recently started a business selling beautiful clothing and accessories which she sources in a surprisingly direct way. The business is called Orphelia and it’s really well worth a visit for the visual beauty alone. So let’s go absolutely beautiful and hear more about how Orphelia works. I really do recommend a visit to Alexa’s site as a feast for the eyes.
The picture is of me holding our European Podcast Award, beautiful but heavy, together with the Olympus DM 55o Digital Voice Recorder which I used to record this show. OK I promise that this is the last time I’ll mention it! Thanks for the votes and thanks to the whole Absolutely Intercultural team which keeps the whole thing going.
absolutely lost Tingting Yang is a Chinese teacher of English and corporate communication advisor. There was lots to talk about but having done a Masters in Intercultural Communication and working as an intercultural trainer with Verge Cross-cultural Communication. There was one aspect of Chinese policy which Tingting was convinced has had a huge effect on Chinese culture and that is the one-child policy.
absolutely ‘merican Now I want to introduce you to Vicki Hollett, author of several successful English language learning books. Vicki is British but moved to the US about ten years ago. Her book Business Objectives, had been very successful in its original British English version so her publisher suggested that they make an American English version. We hear about positive and negative politeness and indirectness as used in Britain and America. To test our understanding of indirect English, Vicki produced a dialogue in which two people discuss what to do about a project which is behind schedule. Is the outcome clear?
And if you need a bit of structured listening or writing practice then you can find several different types of dictation exercises based on a snippet of that interview at the Listen and Write website.
Happy New Year or should that be Appy New Year from Absolutely Intercultural, the podcast about all things intercultural? My name’s Anne Fox and this podcast is coming to you from Denmark. This is show number 126, the first one of 2011 or 20 11 as I should probably start to call it. So why Appy New Year? Well in this show I will be introducing you to 3 so-called apps which could help you in your efforts to understand more about intercultural communication.
This is the first time I’m making a show after learning about our win in the European podcast awards for 2010. We won in the non-profit category and I just want to add my thanks to all those of you who voted for us and also to all those of you who have contributed to the show by speaking with me and Laurent over the years. Without you as our conversation partners this podcast would be impossible.
absolutely trivial The topic of small talk is often part of a language course, though not a very important one. But when I talked to Evan Frendo in Germany I discovered that small talk is actually a very important building block of working relationships. Here are links to Evan’s blog and his latest book, Intercultural Business English for German learners of English working in Asia.
absolutely useful? You may remember that in my last show we found out about South Korea from a Chinese perspective when I spoke with Carol who is doing a year’s study exchange there. What also interested me was how she was going to use Korean when she went back to China. So is Korean absolutely useful to Chinese people? Thanks again to Carol who got in touch with us to tell us about her Korean experiences. She certainly showed herself to be adaptable when faced with a sensitive intercultural situation.
absolutely adaptable And adaptability is something which Kenyan teacher, Samuel Osamba still needs to practice even though he has been in the USA for over 20 years now. Let’s hear how absolutely adaptable he needs to be in the classroom.
absolutely word for word I think that culture and language are closely connected which is why we often also talk about language learning on this podcast. As a teacher I am very impressed with the web site called Listen and Write in which language learners can do dictation exercises around short audio snippets often from YouTube videos or Voice of America broadcasts. Since we sometimes get asked for transcripts of the show I wondered if we could combine the two and upload short extracts from the show to Listen & Write for you to work with if you are a language learner. So the first one features the first part of Evan Frendo’s segment about small talk.
absolutely essential But am I right in thinking that culture and language are inextricably mixed? I have recently read a blog post by a respected English teacher who said that he didn’t see any reason to include intercultural communication in his English classes. Since Evan Frendo includes a great deal of intercultural communication in his classes I asked him for his view. Is it absolutely essential in language teaching?
appsolutely mobile After speaking with Evan I signed up to his Twitter feed and discovered a link he had posted about a language app. Apps are small programs that you can download to your mobile phone, tablet or mp3 player. There are thousands of them and I suddenly became curious whether there were any to do with intercultural communication. So in this final segment we’ll go appsolutely mobile (and I hope you heard my pronunciation there!)
So the first app is called Word Lens and works by translating any sign that you photograph. At the moment the only language pair available is English and Spanish so this means that you can photograph a Spanish sign and get an English translation or vice versa. Useful for restaurant menus I would imagine. The catch here though is that although the app is free, you have to buy the dictionary. But when it works, it’s like magic.
The second app I found was called Fasten Seatbelts and this gives you snippets of information about different cultures both in text format and in the form of short videos. Now this one is completely free. The first edition was a collection of Do’s and Don’ts for European countries and the second edition now covers a range of Asian countries.
The third app I found is called Cultural GPS and allows you to see the different Hofstede profiles for 98 different countries in the free version. In the pro version you can create your own personal cultural profile and compare it to any one of the 98 countries or compare pairs of countries to highlight differences and similarities. This is the one I liked the most and I’d be really interested to find out what you think about it.
All in all I think that this was an interesting little project but I have come to the conclusion that these apps can only help with simplistic culture specifics and don’t really help with the more rewarding culture-general aspects of intercultural communication. But maybe you know of other interesting apps? If so then do tell us about it in a comment here on the blog or send us an email. We’d also be very happy if you recorded something for us to include in the show. Well that’s it for this show.
absolutely urban Recently I came across an intriguing project called Soundcities. The project started in the 90s when an anonymous British artist known as Stanza started making sound recordings in cities all over the world. You can now go to the Soundcities website and choose a city or a mood and hear the sounds associated with it. Of course I went straight to the collection for Aarhus which is my nearest big city and among other things, found the familiar sound that the pedestrian crossing plays when it’s safe to cross the road. The project isn’t over yet so if you fancy going out and making some recordings then Stanza would love you to upload them to the website to add to the database. So what sounds would you record for your city? Well before you decide I’d like you to sit back and relax for three minutes while I play you a medley of sounds from a well-known city. The question is, can you guess which one? So where did those sounds come from? I’ll be kind and accept answers from the right country. I recommend you go to soundcities.com and play around with the map and the sounds that you can find there. I also recommend the Soundmaps mixer page where you can create your own cacophony using the mixer on the page. So where did the soundscape come from earlier in the show? I wonder if you guessed Asia? I wonder if you guessed South korea? The sounds in fact came from Seoul. I thought that would be the most appropriate to play for our conversation with Carol.
absolutely delicious I was delighted when Carol from China contacted us saying she’s be willing to talk to us about her experience as an exchange student in Korea. Carol studies Korean and English at Nanjing Normal University in Jiangsu Province in China. She arrived in Korea in August and we talked about various things including food so this is the absolutely delicious segment but first I couldn’t resist asking how she had heard about our podcast.
absolutely on time Samuel Osamba has been living in the US for 20 years but is originally from Kenya to which he returns on project work several times a year. He tried to leave a comment on the blog after our piece on the intercultural business webinar in October but there was a technical glitch. That is now solved so thank you Samuel for letting us know about that but also I was curious to find out more so I arranged to ring Samuel to see if he had another perspective on the issue of timekeeping in our segment absolutely on time. Samuel you’re quite right that Africa does not feature often enough in our podcast so if there is anybody out there from Africa who has some interesting stories to tell then please do get in touch.
absolutely critical I’m not sure that we’ve had recorded critical incidents on this show before but I managed it as I spoke to Carol from China about her year abroad in Korea. Listen as I get it completely wrong not just once but twice in the space of five minutes in absolutely critical!
absolutely back to front For our last segment I decided to play you one of the shorter sessions from TED talk. If you don’t know TED Talks yet then I strongly recommend that you go over to TED.com and choose one or two from the amazing selection of recorded talks by some amazing people. The TED talks are even starting to have their own superstars such as Sir Kenneth Robinson and Professor Sugata Mitra who both talk about education or Hans Roslin who makes statistics come alive or Jill Bolte Taylor giving a minute by minute account of a massive stroke she had. The TED slogan is ‘Ideas worth Spreading’ and I think they are addictive so watch out. The one I’m going to share with you today is by Derek Sivers’ entitled ‘Weird or just different?’ which is about how what you think may be true may not be true or absolutely back to front! One of our very first podcasts featured South African, Mark Anderson who went to South Korea and specifically mentioned this problem that the streets have no names. So now four years later, problem solved!