Hello and welcome to show 264 of our podcast “Absolutely Intercultural”. Today we will listen to our chief editor Giorgi Sulaberidze from Georgia, Eastern Europe about his cultural experiences during his exchange semester in Germany.
How does the exchange program influence international students’ lives? What are the cultural challenges? Which aspects of life in a foreign country turn out easier than expected? How do our exchange students spend their free time during their stay abroad and what cultural insights do they gain from each other?
In our first category, “absolutely independent”, Giorgi asked his international friends about things they did for the first time in their new cultural environment.
In our second category “absolutely connected”, Giorgi tells us how the group of international students is spending their free time together and how they stay connected through sports and games.
Finally, in our category, “absolutely standing”, Giorgi talks about cultural exchanges amongst the international students. His friend Rabee taught him that the most traditional Jordanian dish, Mansaf is eaten with your right hand while standing around the table.
Our next show will be coming to you on the 6th of August.
Welcome to show 253 of Absolutely Intercultural, A Day in the Life of Kalvin, coming to you from the beautiful Rheinland in Germany. Today’s show is an immersive journey about daily life in Germany, narrated by one of our Australian international students. Have you ever considered living overseas or wondered about what intercultural challenges you would face? Today we hear directly from Kalvin and experience a summer day in Germany firsthand.
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Have you ever thought about preparing yourself “interculturally” before going abroad? Did you know that you can simulate a culture shock without ever going abroad? It is perhaps possible to internationalize yourself within your home country’s borders through games and simulations.
absolutely foreign For young academics it does not seem to be adequate any longer to only study in their home countries. Recruiters pay a lot of attention to intercultural experiences that candidates may bring to the new job as a consequence of an exchange programme or an internship abroad. It is a fact that young people whose personal and academic life has been enriched by several stays in different countries are likely to get the jobs they wish. Saskia, Younes and Philipp, three university students, want to share with us their plans to internationalize themselves. However, their stories may be true or false (if you want to find it out, have a look at our facebook page). Who knows, maybe you will get “itchy feet” while listening to these stories and make a similar plan abroad?
In our second category “absolutely privileged” we focus on a game named “How far can I get in my society” inspired by Alexandra Haas and her project “Teaching Culture!“. Matthew and Tehlia, both Australians participants in this game, were amazed at how it makes the social barriers in a society visible. They noticed how some people can go very far whereas immigrants and poorer individuals, with limited opportunities, are often in a disadvantaged position and get left behind.
absolutely real If you are planning to go abroad and it is your first time, maybe the card game BARNGA, which we have already talked about in previous shows, can help you with your intercultural preparation. It really helps experience the real feelings that you will have when moving to another country. Zydrune shares with us her impressions when she played this game, and how it reminded her of her first days in Germany, the feeling of being in a place with a different language, rules and culture from her home country, Lithuania.
Maybe you want to listen to the opinion of a university lecturer of intercultural communication to understand the didactical aims of these games and simulations. In this last category, Elena, our editor, interviews Laurent, the host of the show, who explains the reasons why he believes simulations are sometimes preferable to real life and talks about their advantages and disadvantages.
If you want even more background as to broader issues behind our intercultural stories in this podcast then you might consider visiting the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon store here where we have both classics, basics and specifics for sale, a small proportion of which goes to us to support the costs of maintaining this podcast.
Our next show will be coming to you on 1 March from Anne Fox in Denmark.
Today, Friday 11 June 2010, the world’s eyes are on the start of the Football World Cup in South Africa, in which people from so many different nations will meet each other and confront different cultures. Listeners across the world, please keep your fingers crossed that this World Cup in Africa will become a memorable intercultural event!
I must admit – I am not even a football fan, and certainly no specialist, but I thought I have to make an effort and speak about football today, about stereotypes, about cultural misunderstandings and linguistic challenges connected with big international events – not just football but also cultural events. I talked with people from Belgium, England and Spain, to see what kinds of experiences they have made in intercultural communication.
As you all know, today the Football world cup in South Africa starts and I’m sure that most of you can’t wait to see your favorite team win. Have you noticed that while we think of these international events are great intercultural meeting places, international football matches often give rise to a lot of terrible stereotypes? These are moments when fans dig deep and sometimes come up with very unpleasant clichés. English tabloids sometimes use war metaphors to describe the German teams in a contest. I called Jean, a friend of mine who moved from Manchester to Bonn years ago. In our first category she tells us how those terrible old stereotypes always come up again when there is an international football event.
Now, two days ago, I was very lucky and was able to get a personal interview with an incredibly interesting person. Frie Leysen is the Programme Director of the “Theatre of the World” Event and came to Cologne to share her vision of this great international event of performing arts with us. While many of us interested in intercultural communication try to reduce ambiguity by finding cultural explanations for differences and theories for coping with unwanted loss of orientation, Frie does the opposite. She invites more than 30 of the most interesting theatre productions to one location in order to force the audience to embrace ambiguity and misunderstandings.
Some time ago I met Marlen from Spain who had spent some time in Germany and she shared with us the cultural differences which exist between Spain and Germany. In our next category we’ll hear what experiences Marlen made with German men in the streets and how she learned to handle them.
Now let us come back to Jean, with whom I continued the football conversation about the psychological problems Germans used to have with their national pride after the war and the taboo of private flags. Now, this changed a lot during the World Cup in Germany in 2006 when at least the younger generations put these taboos behind them and behaved like youngsters all over the world. And now, before the world cup starts we can see this again. Suddenly, it seems acceptable to put a flag in your window or even on your car. In our last category Jean is divided whether flags and partiotism should be seen as right or wrong.
The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 25 June
Today our focus will be on a re-entry shock or reverse culture shock. When people stay abroad for a long period of time they often experience a kind of shock or depression after they come back to their home countries. For our first category “absolutely integrated”, I had Kyle Hickman in the studio. You may remember him from shows 87 and 91. This time he told me how difficult it can be to adjust to the German culture even if your whole family has a German background.
Do you remember Kyle Hickmann, the American student who did an internship at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung? We had interviewed him about his experience coming from the warm California to the cold country Germany. The third person in our round is Professor Dr. Joachim Birzele, a lecturer from the RheinAhrCampus, Remagen, who did a research tour around various universities in the US and in Canada. During his trip he was very impressed by the warm welcome he received everywhere and by the fact that his overseas colleagues did not hesitate to invite him to their homes straight away without even knowing him. They also passed him on to fellow-researchers by giving him their addresses and recommending contact. This made academic networking much easier for Joachim. You may remember that in my last show I talked about so-called “coconut people” and “peach people”? Well, today we will meet this analogy again and in our category “absolutely integrated” Kyle and Joachim immediately agreed that these two types of people behave very differently. Kyle suggested that Americans may be more comfortable combining business with friendship.
Those who have lived abroad tell us that it is hard to adjust to a new culture because of little differences in spontaneous behavior – but how can it be difficult to go back to your own culture afterwards?
Imagine you leave your hometown, your work place or your university for a year and when you come back and you want to share all your new experiences with your friends – you notice that people are not quite as interested in your stories as you expected, or even worse, people did not even notice that you were away for a whole year?
Alice Wo is an Intercultural trainer who offers courses for students who face this situation after coming back from extended periods abroad. She helps them with the re-entry into their own culture and surroundings. Most people are prepared for a culture shock when they go out to a foreign country. But few are prepared for a similar shock when they come back home. When you spend a year in a different culture, you may adopt some customs that are unusual for your own home country. This readjustment process to the primary culture can affect people psychologically and even physically especially when they are unprepared for this.
People do, as a general rule, quickly adapt to their own culture again – but maybe if they were a little better prepared for this they would be less shocked or depressed upon their arrival home. After some stays in the US and in England I sometimes feel that the friendly openness is something which I miss when I get back home. I was in Florida over Christmas, where I certainly met a typical “peach-person”. We were waiting for a guided tour, my wife and I were standing around and suddenly a lady came to join the group of about 15 people. And instead of also standing a bit at the side and pretending the others were not there, she came straight to us, stretched out her hand and said: “Hi, my name is Linda”. Actually, we first thought she must be the guide but then she stayed with us and made small talk until the tour guide arrived. We were really surprised how quickly this networking machine enclosed us in her circle of friends and we soon discussed intimate topics such as “how much do you earn” which I would never even discuss with my close friends back home.
The next show will be coming to you on 13 November from Anne Fox in Denmark.
Even 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!
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.
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.
Welcome to the 10th show of ‘absolutely intercultural!’, which this time features three of our many different columns:
Absolutely Personal: ‘The streets have no name.’
How do you react when you first arrive in a culture which is completely different to the one you are used to? I talked to South African, Mark Anderson about the disorientation he felt when he went to work in South Korea and experienced for himself what is commonly termed culture shock.
He talks about being faced with a supermarket full of items which he could not recognise and this reminded me of the ice cream I bought in China in 2002 thinking it was strawberry or raspberry flavoured. The packaging is pictured. Can you work out what the main ingredient turned out to be?
‘I found these people extremely interesting – for many reasons, one of them being the sense of equality and egalitarianism that existed among them.’
There is a lot to be learned about different cultures without even travelling. Mark Anderson, brought up under the Apartheid system in South Africa, noticed straight away that the Danes that he met in his native Cape Town had a different way of relating to people than he was used to.
‘That was one of the major concerns before the project.’
How can a dating agency make a national impact on inter-cultural dialogue? This is a piece about one woman who had an inspired idea about how to initiate contact between the immigrant community in Denmark and the so-called liver paté Danes (this being the most popular topping for the Danish packed lunch). Listen to find out what the concern was and whether it was justified.
We hope you enjoy the show and tune in again on the 11th of August for show #11 from Germany.