In today’s podcast we discuss aspects of the German culture, involvement of refugees in everyday university life and integration of international students at Brock University. We talk to Sheila Young from Brock University, Canada who was visiting Germany for the first time in her life when we met her at RheinAhrCampus. She told us about how she prepared her visit to Germany from a cultural point of view. We will also hear about the experiences of three students, who took part in the Managing Cultural Diversity seminar. They will explain how refugees were involved in this project and how they benefitted from this experience. Continue reading “Absolutely Intercultural 197 +++ Cultural Diversity +++ Serious +++ Refugees +++”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.