All posts by Martin Böttcher

Arabic-German | 10th Meeting

Hello 🙂

Yesterday, unfortunately, we had the last meeting of this course, even though we will definitely try to meet again someday. We watched the game of Bayern Munich against Leipzig, while we were preparing Tacos and a smoothie as desert. We discussed about the right of free speech.. Ahmed claimed that everything should be allowed to say, even though it is not based on facts and contradicts scientific research. For example, Ahmed stated that everyone should be allowed to deny the holocaust (note: Ahmed is totally aware of holocaust’s reality). In my perception, the right of free speech should be restricted, because it is sometimes just violating and disrespectful (e.g. referring to the victims of the holocaust). Moreover, I value adjustments of fake news, as Twitter did during the Trump campaign and especially regarding the “stolen” election. Finally, we agreed that both of us are tremendously influenced by our historical background. Ahmed is really sensitive regarding restrictions of speech, while the history of holocaust is a tender spot for me as a German.

All in all, this meeting was really interesting again. I value Ahmed as a person and admire his open-mindedness. During the previous ten meetings, it became apparent that our cultures are different, but both of us have a quite similar world view. To sum it up, due to this each one teach one course, I have learned a couple Arab phrases and important terms (ordering drinks, small talk, ingredients, shopping…). Furthermore, and this is my personal outcome of this course, I definitely expanded my cultural knowledge and I am now more aware of the country Palestine and its history as well as the religious traditions of Arabs.

Arabic-German | 9th Meeting

Hi together 🙂

Three days ago I fulfilled my promise and cooked curry with lens for Ahmed. The dish is made out of onions (Zwiebeln), pepper (Paprika) and potatoes (Kartoffeln), which is quite typical for Germany. While I was cooking, we watched German TV series called “4 Blocks” and “Babylon Berlin”. Babylon Berlin deals with Berlin in its 1920s and 1930s, while the 4 Block’s main object is Berlin’s contemporary gang-life. The historical series was appropriate to highlight some specific items of the movie, which are still part of the furniture at my grandparent’s place. The modern series about today’s Berlin was good to highlight the most important and famous places in the capital of Germany (e.g. Alexanderplatz, Brandenburger Tor, Kottbusser Tor..).

All in all, I hope Ahmed enjoyed the meal and learned about something about Germany’s capital.

Arabic-German | 8th Meeting

Hi 🙂

Ahmed and I had scheduled the 8th meeting for having a coffee and a couple of drinks afterwards. We planned to talk about famous celebrities in our country as well as our experiences of growing up at school as we had preliminary structured our meetings in the beginning of the course.

First of all, I started introducing Ahmed into a few celebrities, who take part in reality TV shows in Germany such as Michael Wendler (a singer) or Ailton (a Brazilian football player of Werder Bremen). The popularity of this kind of TV shows has been increasing in Germany, even though I do not share the excitement. Ahmed continued with Taim Hasan (a famous Syrian actor in Palestine) and Steven Gerrard. Ahmed stated that Palestine is also really interested in international football and hence he has chosen Steven Gerrard as example.

Regarding school and education in Germany, we had quite different experiences. In Germany, physical punishment is prohibited, while this form of education is still allowed in Palestine. Moreover, the exposure to authorities is different. Even though German pupil have to talk to their teachers by surname, the Palestinian should use the title as well. It seems like that Palestine’s educational behavior correspondents to the school system of my grandparents in Germany. It was really interesting to see these differences.

Arabic-German | 7th Meeting

Hello 🙂

Unfortunately, Ahmed and I were not able to meet for approximately three weeks starting in the beginning of November. I have been visiting Germany for nine days and subsequently Ahmed went to Spain, in order to explore the city and region of Sevilla.

We agreed to meet again on the 22th of November, starting with a walk through the snowy city of Tampere and the Christmas market, which had started a few days before. At first, we exchanged impressions of our trips. In a nutshell, consciously leaving some details of Ahmed’s trip out ( 😀 ), I would classify the trip to Germany as more peaceful. We also talked about our plans for Christmas and our future in general. All in all, it was a really pleasant initial cozy chat.

After we have been walking around for 1,5 hours, we stopped at a restaurant, where we focused on our primarily purpose of this meeting, talking about Media in our countries as well as social media in general. Ahmed is a really good counterpart in this respect, because he is enrolled in Media Studies. We agreed that in general, the use of social media is mostly waste of time as I am using it (just checking other people’s posts). However, it could be useful as well, if it used for getting and giving different world views as Ahmed is doing it with people of his country. For example, Ahmed was arguing with an Arab friend from school about racism and different forms of racism (especially in respect of religion). His former friends claimed that racism is quite natural. Ahmed opposed this tremendously. Lastly, I explained the organization of Media in Germany (e.g. that there is a fee for governmental, but really objective news) and showed him the common new channels in Germany.

I appreciated this meeting again, because it broadened my view of the importance of social media to spread important values. Nevertheless, the negative outcomes of social media have to be considered as well (e.g. hate-speech).

Thanks Ahmed!

Arabic-German | 6th Meeting

Guten Tag and Marhaba,

as I mentioned in my initial blog entry, I had received various receipts at our first meeting, that I will definitely cook when I am back in Germany. Hence, in order to protect my family from my limited cooking skills, Ahmed proposed to hand out advices, while I am giving my best to prepare taboon, a kind of Palestinian flatbread, for the first time.

During we were making the dish, Ahmed and I tried to name the ingredients in our mother language. Even though the mouth and tongue of a human is the same physically, I was surprised by the difficulties both of us had regarding the pronunciation of foreign terms. For example, Ahmed had a tough time uttering the ingredient Hefe, which is the German description of yeast. In addition, we listened to some songs, which are quite popular in our native countries. Therefore, Ahmed is now familiar with the beautiful sounds of Capital Bra, the most popular rapper in Germany, and I am more aware of Fayrouz, a Lebanese and one of the most famous singer in the Arab world.
Finally, we had a discussion regarding the disrespectful treatment of women in the middle-east. Honestly, and Ahmed agreed in this respect, I am happy to live in Europe, where all women are treated with respect without the threat of being disowned due to emancipated behavior.

Salam 🙂

Arabic-German | 5th Meeting

Three weeks ago, on the 7th of October, Ahmed invited me to take part in a board game session with a couple of friends, I have already met at our first meeting in September. The plan was to start playing at one of his friend’s place and, after we had finished the board game, to go to a bar in order to learn typical Arabic and German phrases of ordering drinks and dishes. Unfortunately, the bars and restaurants were closed due to Corona pandemic, which we noticed while we were standing in front of their doors.

However, the first part of our meeting, playing board games, was a lot of fun. Ahmed introduced me in typical Arabic small talk phrases and I replied with the German opposites. For instance, the ice breaker “How do you do?”, which is said in Arabic by Kefak? and in German by Wie geht es dir? or, aiming at one of the most likely small-talk subjects, “The weather is great” what is expressed by El-jaw helo (Arabic) and Das Wetter ist gut (German). All in all, even though we were not able to go to a bar/ restaurant, we exchanged commonly used phrases in our languages, as planned in the beginning of this course. In addition, I really enjoyed meeting Ahmed’s friends and hope to see them in one of our next meetings again.

Arabic-German | 4th Meeting

If we had followed our preliminary scheduled meeting regarding sports, we would have visited a bar, where we would have been able to watch football, while talking about our favorite teams. However, instead of sitting in front of a TV, we decided to visit the Tampere Ilves, one of two ice hockey teams in Tampere, in order to cheer them at their Matchday against Pori. Fortunately, we were accompanied by three friends, who take part in this course as well. Even though we had planned to talk about our most preferred football teams, we avoided the topic, because the game of Liverpool, Ahmed’s favorite team, against Everton ended in a tie (caused by a false referee decision).

Due to the killing of a history teacher, who showed a cartoon of prophet Mohammed, by a an Islamist in France two days ago, we talked about the conservative values of some Muslims and the difficulty of integrating them in a society. In addition, because of evaluating the foreign policy of president Trump, we talked about the election in the United States as well. From my point of view, Ahmed and I have similar opinions of liberal thinking, although we came from different cultures and countries. To sum it up, I really enjoyed this day again and looking forward seeing Ahmed for the 5th time.

Arabic-German | 3rd Meeting

Our third meeting was a kind of history lesson. Even though I have an Israeli friend in Germany, I was not conscious of Israel’s establishment in the territory of Palestine after world war II. Honestly, without extensive knowledge regarding this conflict before, I blamed the Palestinian for their, from my previous point of view, gratuitous production of tension in this region. After our meeting, although violence is never the right way of solving problems and has to be judged in spates, I am more aware of the reasons, which caused the Palestinian behavior. Israel has expanded its territory beyond the borders settled by the United Nations in 1967. Hopefully, the conflict will be resolved in future.

In order to explain the two main religious movements in Germany, Protestants and Catholics, I started with the 95 thesis of Martin Luther in 1517. To sum it up, due to the selling of indulgences by the catholic church in the middle age, a movement arose, which was convinced that this remission of sins is just a way of making money. Hence, the Protestants, led by Martin Luther, established their own religion, which was solely based on the faith in god. In general, even though this incident was one of the most incisive events in Germany, explaining it without Google was partially difficult due to lack of detailed knowledge. Ahmed agreed to this point, because watching videos regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in order to be prepared for the meeting, was helpful for him as well.

Shukran and Salam !

Arabic-German | 2nd Meeting


Ahmed and I met for the second time, in order to see the sunset at Naistenlahti, the lake next to my flat at Lapinkaari. During our first meeting, we have already done the first two events of our preliminary plan at once, playing football and having a typical Arabic lunch at Ahmed’s apartment. Hence, even though it was not part of our preliminary plan, we decided spontaneously to use October’s shafts of sunlight, before the weather will become more displeasing. But unfortunately, the sky was cloudier as we previously expected. During our walk through the forest, we had a lively discussion regarding integration of refugees in general and especially in Germany due to the high number of Syrians who arrived in 2015 and 2016. In addition, Ahmed was really interested into the role of racism in my domestic country. I explained that Germany has, from my point of view, no problem with racism generally although a nationalistic political party, called Alternative für Deutschland, has been increasing since its appearance in 2013.

Moreover, Ahmed explained the process of marriage in the Arabic culture and women’s status in general. In comparison to Germany, the differences regarding equal treatment of both women and gays are tremendous. Otherwise, most parts of Palestine’s youth tend to a more liberal way of thinking. At this point, I am really thankful for taking part in this course and, in order to learn more about a non-western culture, which is embossed by religious values. After this meeting, due to Ahmed’s open-mindedness, I am more aware of both the actual situation in Palestine as well as the ongoing process of change.

Arabic-German || First meeting

After two weeks of chatting via WhatsApp, Ahmed and I had our first meeting two days ago. Firstly, we started having lunch at Ahmed’s apartment. Thanks again for this variety of delicious dishes! Ahmed prepared for me Taboon, a kind of Palestinian Flatbread, which tasted similar to pizza with olives, cheese and sweet-sour sauce. In addition, I ate the Taboon with self-made humus and had a dessert called Hareeseh. I received two receipts I will definitely try to cook when I am back in Germany for Christmas. Furthermore, I have learned that oil is one or probably the most important ingredient in Palestine. J

While we were having lunch, we talked about the cities we are coming from, our studies, Ahmed’s trip through Europe, football and especially German football clubs. I have learned that Football is the most popular sport in Palestine as well. In general, this first conversation was good to become more acquainted with Ahmed. I am sure we will completely step in teaching of Arabic and German at our next meeting.

After we had mostly tidied up the kitchen, we changed our clothes and went to the football field next to Ahmed’s apartment. Some of Ahmed’s friends were already waiting for us so that we could end the evening together with a real international match and a couple of new words for football issues. To sum it up, in my opinion, it was a really nice first meeting and I am looking forward to our next appointment.