“When speakers from different language backgrounds work together using a common language, they draw on subconscious concepts that lie below the surface of the language they happen to be conversing in.
For example, in the German mind, the English word “put” conjures up different images: “legen” means to lie horizontally, “setzen” to make something sit, and “stellen” to stand something vertically. Each of these meanings automatically gives the German speaker access to new ways of approaching a practical problem. In this way, using different languages in collaboration may lead to new connections being made, especially when dealing with complex tasks.”
“The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked. All the German parents were huddled together, drinking coffee, not paying attention to their children who were hanging off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit. Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers? […]
Here are a few surprising things Berlin parents do:
Don’t push reading. Berlin’s kindergartens or “kitas” don’t emphasize academics. In fact, teachers and other parents discouraged me from teaching my children to read. I was told it was something special the kids learn together when they start grade school. Kindergarten was a time for play and social learning. But even in first grade, academics aren’t pushed very hard. Our grade school provides a half-day of instruction interrupted by two (two!) outdoor recesses. But don’t think this relaxed approach means a poor education: According to a 2012 assessment by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, German 15-year-olds perform well above the international average when it comes to reading, math and science while their more pressured American counterparts lag behind. […] Continue reading →
Only in Europe would you see an acquaintance or new friend naked before you get their number. I have been taking a swim technique and training class through the university and have met more wonderful people there in one lesson than I have everywhere else combined. Maybe it is because you can talk during class, there are fewer people, or we have a common interest outside of the classroom, but I think it has to do with nudity.
Sunday: After a good night’s sleep and my first cup of tea down, I feel ready to tell last night’s story. I went out to meet two 2012 Smithies. One is American, graduated from Smith, and returned to Hamburg to her clinical job she had while abroad junior year. The second is a German native who came to Smith to study American Studies for a year as a graduate student (another one of Smith’s great programs.) We had a great time chatting about everything under the sun and trying Hamburg’s own Alsterwasser (a mix of beer and Sprite, quite delicious, yet to be determined if the gluten content affects me,) and reminiscing about Smith. We live off in the same direction and took the number 3 bus together, and I got off before them to change buses. I am quite familiar with the 20/25 that I was switching to and felt fine; I knew where I was. At the stop, I had over 10 minutes to wait and wandered into the Kiosk there. I bought a tin of Turkish loose leaf Earl Grey (drinking at the moment, not the best, still a cultural experience,) and then still had time and was freezing, so I went into the Döner (kebab) place next door for Pommes (french fries). Continue reading →