Becoming partly Portuguese – the story of familiarizing certain habits

I find myself standing at the bar of a local coffee shop, drinking an espresso accompanied by a Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese egg tart pastry which you often dust with cinnamon. This is the traditional “lanche” snack which you take during your break in the morning. Mingling with the local people makes me feel more local in Lisbon and helps me to now call a place home that I had once visited as a tourist. Thinking about that reminds me of how quickly you get accustomed to an unfamiliar environment when you are open to new things and interested in learning habits and traditions of a different culture. For me, unfamiliarity is always something that awakens my interest. Because unfamiliarity to habits of places often teaches me that I need to have some openness in order to feel more comfortable in a place I don’t yet really know well. This openness towards the unfamiliar allowed me to get used to the timetables of the university that are different to my home university. Classes normally begin at 3 pm and last until 9 pm. Also, I became familiar with eating habits in Portugal, where you normally have your lunch break at 2 pm and go to eat meat with rice and chips. And consequently, I also meet my Portuguese friends later, because when we go out for dinner I meet them at 9 pm and that is still early for them.

Continue reading “Becoming partly Portuguese – the story of familiarizing certain habits”

Reflection on Language – Language shapes Personality

I came in contact with a lot of languages during my exchange. I often heard people talk in French or German and a lot of my friends spoke Portuguese or Finnish. But the languages I used to communicate with in daily life were Swedish, second to English.  As all my courses at university were held in English and my social circle consisted mainly of international students, the main language of my life in Sweden was in English. Naturally, I also heard and read a lot of Swedish, since it is the local language. Therefore, I will split my reflection into two parts. One for my experience with Swedish and the second one about my communication in English as compared to Swiss German. Continue reading “Reflection on Language – Language shapes Personality”

Mais devagar, por favor!

I arrived in Lisbon with a humble knowledge of Portuguese. In other terms, I knew that the difference between obrigado and obrigada, which means thank you, is the gender of the person who speaks. Apart from this I didn’t know much more. As I am very interested in learning new languages, I signed up for a Portuguese course at the university in Lisbon. In the first weeks I learned a lot! Not only have I learned that Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish, although the Portuguese people find it difficult to admit, but I have also increased my Portuguese vocabulary. The similarity of Portuguese and Spanish can be explained by their similar evolvement. Both languages form part of the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin. The closeness between Spanish and Portuguese gave me the opportunity to advance quite fast, as I had learned Spanish for several years. Often, I am told that I speak Portingnol – a mixture between Spanish and Portuguese. Continue reading “Mais devagar, por favor!”

The different way of saying things

When I first came to Jena I carried with me the assumption that, according a Swiss stereotype about Germans, that German are sometimes more direct than Swiss. But then again, I was sure that this was only a stereotype and that I wouldn’t remark any real difference. So I went to university the first week and was shocked when there was a professor who, in my eyes, was very rude. The setting of the seminar at that day was that the professor randomly picked four of my fellow students and told them that they were now the bosses of an enterprise and that they had to do a short presentation of themselves. After the presentation he told them his opinion directly, like what he thought of their clothes, of their presentation and of their nonverbal communication. It was clear that he did it so that they would learn something, but for me it was way too direct and rude. Continue reading “The different way of saying things”

The French cannot teach – a blinded idea of a Swiss teacher or reality?

When I decided to study abroad I imagined there would be a lot of hurdles in my new life. Some were obvious, like the language barrier. Others were unpredictable. In the following reflection about an aspect of life I will talk about the most striking and unforeseen obstacle I have came along so far here in Nice: The French school system. The reason why this is so I will explain to you now. I am a keen teacher who is following a teacher education that is orientated towards competence. This means that the development of the individual pupil is a particular focus of teaching. In other words, the pupils are meant to be active during the lessons, not the teacher. The teacher has to give responsibility to them, let them make their own discovery of knowledge in a playful way . The slogan “let the pupils discover the world” summarizes the whole philosophy of the new Swiss syllabus (LP21). Continue reading “The French cannot teach – a blinded idea of a Swiss teacher or reality?”

How I got Less Punctual

One Saturday evening at the beginning of my stay abroad I was invited to a soirée (party) of the volleyball-team of which I’m a part of in Bordeaux. I was told the party would start at 20:30. I did not want to be too early so I arrived there at 21:15 o’clock. But when I rang the doorbell no one opened the door. After some minutes some other people entered the building, so I was able to go inside. I looked for the apartment of the host of the party. Behind one door I heard music playing so I knocked the door. But it was a birthday party of a girl and not the one I was looking for. They were very friendly and invited me to join them. After checking out the whole building I decided to accept the invitation rather than to go home. About an hour later some other guys who were looking for the party of the volleyball team knocked at the same door as well because they couldn’t find our soirée. I joined them and a few minutes later we finally found the place. I had knocked at this very door an hour ago. I was told that the host was sleeping at that moment. 45 minutes after his party should have begun. Continue reading “How I got Less Punctual”

Active in Sweden

At a first glance, you could say that Switzerland is very similar to Sweden in terms of culture. They’re punctual, exact, calm, polite and not big on small talk. If there’s a line, everyone silently waits in the order they arrived and on the street, cars stop for people to cross. The place at university where I encountered the most Swedes was floorball practice. A sport that every Swede knows how to play and they take it very seriously, it’s basically their national sport. Two times a week I’ve been going there and I still don’t know the names of all of them. We just play and don’t talk much. I guess this is also on me but that underlines the fact that Swiss and Swedes are similar in some ways. Not to say that everyone is like that but in general we rather stay to ourselves and are hesitant to approach people. Not interested in small talk. Continue reading “Active in Sweden”

My Homage to Leuven – an Outline of a Work-In-Progress

Unlike with my other blog contributions, I did not spend much time on deciding upon what I wanted this one to be about. It is be about the city of Leuven, in which I lived for the majority of the past six months, and about its people and its urban identity. It turned out to be a true privilege that I was virtually self-employed during my semester abroad in Leuven, as I only attenaded two courses at the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) and spent my remaining “working hours” on developing and co-authoring two academic conference papers. These papers emerged from my Master’s thesis at the University of Bern and did not relate to my semester abroad, which is why I was always free to select my actual working hours as well as my workplace. Thereby, particularly the latter allowed me to visit numerous and various spots and venues in every area and neighborhood of the city. What follows will mirror my (ongoing) familiarization process with Leuven in its single steps: discover – understand – match and merge with what (I thought) I knew previously.

Continue reading “My Homage to Leuven – an Outline of a Work-In-Progress”

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