Familiarizing the unfamilliar

During the first weeks in Bordeaux google maps was my best friend. Without it I would have found neither my way to university nor to the next supermarket. Google maps would guide me home after a night out in a bar or after the visit to a museum. Only little by little did I learn which route I could take to get somewhere. It was particularly challenging to gain orientation for travels by bike, since there are lots of one-way roads in the historical center of Bordeaux as a result of the narrowness of the streets. A route, that takes you somewhere, is therefore never the one that takes you back home. Unless you like to ride on the sidewalk, which you do not, because it is bumpy and small. Continue reading “Familiarizing the unfamilliar”

“Je suis Québécoise, pas Canadienne!”

2017 – Canada’s 150th anniversary! When I first got to Canada this summer, I travelled the West Coast, and I was very much aware of the fact that Canada was celebrating its 150th anniversary. For me as a traveler this meant free entries to National Parks, several celebrations throughout the year and heaps of special offers. The Canadians I met, stayed with and travelled with celebrated the anniversary and it was often the topic of our conversations.
Continue reading ““Je suis Québécoise, pas Canadienne!””


As I write this text, reflecting on the last couple of months and trying to come up with examples of what has become familiar, I sit on the rooftop of my student housing. Here, 21 floors above the ground, I have a perfect view over central Sydney. While there are so many things, stories and people that have become familiar over time, the breathtaking view reminds me of the many stories and aspects I haven’t yet gotten to discover. Continue reading “Family-Arizing”

A Story of Mate, Pfandflaschen and Kaufland

For this last blog contribution about familiarising something unfamiliar in my host country, I tried to think of cultural aspects that I found strange when I first got here, but have adapted to over the course of my time here in Germany. Then I also asked myself if there were cultural particularities that I am still not used to and tried to reflect on why that could be. Even though I feel like the culture here is not too different from that in German-speaking Switzerland, there were a few things that came to my mind. One thing I noticed right when I wanted to start writing on this blog and needed to get some energy. Instead of having a cup of coffee on my desk (normally my preferred source of caffeine), I had gotten myself a bottle of “Club Mate”. With a smile I thought to myself that this was also some kind of culture that I had adapted to – the “Mate culture”. Only knowing mate as the traditional herbal tea from Argentina, I had been surprised to see so many people drink it in the form of a refreshing and caffeinated soft drink. Especially among students, it’s much more popular than coffee, it is a best-seller at the canteen and can be spotted on almost every second table in the university library. At the beginning I was not a big fan of its taste, but now my taste buds seem to have adapted to this particular taste of university culture in Potsdam.
Continue reading “A Story of Mate, Pfandflaschen and Kaufland”

Nursing in Berlin

I was quite nervous in the days before I started my work placement at the hospital. My fellow students at the Evangelische Fachhochschule told me that working in a German hospital could be a nightmare. They explained that nurses in Germany are always stressed because they are mostly understaffed. “Take what they say to you with a grain of salt, they are just stressed out.” Statements like this also made me  a bit sad. How can it be that a wonderful profession such as nursing can be tainted with so many bad expectations? Continue reading “Nursing in Berlin”

Lunds Angels

One of the biggest changes I experienced in Sweden, but which I never wrote about elaborately so far, was the change of means of transportation. While I was always walking my 800 meters to my primary school as a kid, and used public transportation every day of my secondary school and university life, there was only one time span in my life where I used my bike on an everyday basis. It was the time in high school, those two years where the every day commuting was kind of fun. Despite some cold icy days and a crash on one unhappy day, I was always looking forward to getting on my bike. I lived far away from school from school and it was a daily ritual to collect my two friends on the way there. Since we were the only three people in class coming from my village, it felt like we were this little bike gang from there. Writing about that makes me feel slightly nostalgic. Continue reading “Lunds Angels”

Friendly people instead of internet

I was quite nervous in the days before I went to Berlin, because I only had little information about the school and the courses. Although I had already been to Berlin twice I didn’t know anybody. Berlin is known as a big city with many young people, especially students. A city where nobody wears the same style of clothes and you can eat and party anytime during the day or at night. But how do these young people behave to foreigners? Continue reading “Friendly people instead of internet”

Park Life

The city of Potsdam is well-known for its many Prussian palaces and their gardens, most famous among them certainly the Sanssouci Palace, once inhabited by the Prussian king Frederick the Great, who the local people still affectionately call by his nickname “Alter Fritz”. Besides being proud of them as the main tourist attraction in their city, the people from Potsdam are also very fond of the parks themselves and go there a lot in their free time. Especially when the weather is nice, the parks are crowded by people enjoying the sun, running, cycling or just strolling around. Before arrival, this is also what I expected I would do in the famous parks and little did I expect them to be part of my first little “cultural shock” in Germany… because as it turned out, I was going to live in one of the parks! Continue reading “Park Life”

Heading the right way!

My first interaction with the Australian culture almost made it impossible for me to tell the story about it. After a long and at times very shaky flight, I took the train to Sydney Central Station where I was supposed to check into my Hostel where I would stay before moving into the Student Housing on Campus. Not having slept during the 14-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, I was only focused on one thing: getting some sleep as soon as possible. At this point, noticing and dealing with cultural differences or local customs was the least of my worries. After all, so I thought, Australia is surely the most European country in the Asia-Pacific region. Continue reading “Heading the right way!”

Who needs cash when you can pay by card?

There are so many stories I could tell about Sweden or especially Lund. As it is one of the two big student cities in Sweden (besides Uppsala), student life has a whole different position in everyday life here than in other cities, like for example Bern, where my home university is. Everything revolves around university. A sign for this is that the nicest buildings in the city are University buildings like the breathtaking main library, which ist often seen on postcards or pictures of Lund, or the stunning main building of the student’s society AF Bostäder. The city, especially the centre of it, is full of university buildings like the lecture buildings or the 26 libraries of the different faculties. Continue reading “Who needs cash when you can pay by card?”

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