Tag Archives: German

French – German: Stereotypes

Yesterday we had another meeting with our German-French group. We talked extensively about stereotypes and the German and French culture.

At the beginning Leonie wanted to know how we imagine a typical French person, Tim said that the first thing he thinks of is a man with a striped shirt, a beret and a baguette under his arm. To our disappointment, Leonie pointed out that at most a few girls wear them and then only in Paris. She said in general that many French stereotypes only apply to Paris rather than the rest of the country. Another cliché that came to mind was that French people don’t like to speak English – according to Leonie, it’s primarily not because they don’t like it, but that they can’t or have a hard time with the pronunciation. For Tim, the typical public demonstrations in France were another distinctive behavior that he associates with France. From the other French girls I met in Tampere, I learned that the French love tarte – whether sweet or savory, there is almost always a tarte. Also, Leonie has pointed out to us that if we are ever in France must necessarily try frogs or snails, as these are also typical French specialties – I think here I will have to pass, however.

For Leonie, a typical German is dressed in lederhosen and drinking beer. I think this image of Germans still persists worldwide. However, lederhosen are only typical clothing in southern Germany and are mainly worn in Bavaria at traditional festivals like Oktoberfest. Of course, we also got to the classic cultural points like punctuality for Germany and disorganization for French. We ended up with the working conditions; Leonie told us that the unstructuredness of the French comes from the fact that they are always stressed because they work six days a week. In Germany, on the other hand, they only work five days a week. However, in both countries the standard working time is 40 hours per week. Most of the clichés surrounding France come from the capital, Paris, and the behavior of the citizens there. In Germany, on the other hand, life and mentality in Berlin is very different from the rest of the country, even though it is the capital and the seat of government.

In the end we had a long discussion about different types of bread with some difficulties in understanding, that was very funny and led to lots of different photos of baguettes in our WhatsApp chat – but now we know that a baguette like we have in Germany is actually not a real baguette compared to the typical French baguette.

French – German: Listening to Music

Unfortunately, we could not meet now for some time. Therefore, it was all the happier that it finally worked out again today and we have seen or heard us once again.

Since we have already discussed many general topics and I have seen in the blog posts of others that they have listened to music, we have also decided to do so.

We listened to some different songs from various styles from France and Germany and tried to translate them.

Among others, Leonie showed us the song La vie en rose by Édith Piaf, which is known mainly from French films or films set in France. The song is about seeing life through rose-colored glasses. She also showed us two cool (pop) rap songs, Je m’en tape by OBOY and Toutes les couleurs by Ninho. As with the German rap songs, we had to realize that the lyrics in rap songs often don’t make sense. However, we liked the sound of the French rap songs much better than the common German ones.

We showed her Roller by Apache 207 a well-known German rap song, but it really makes no sense at all. We could only explain that it was about scooters.

We also let her hear Pocahontas by AnnenMayKantenreit. A song about a failed relationship, but it doesn’t sound as sad as the lyrics make it sound. Leonie even knew this song.

Of course, a typical German “Schlager” song could not be missing! We have chosen Atemlos by Helene Fischer, which is played especially at the Oktoberfest up and down.

Leonie showed us then finally Sous les sunlights des Tropiques by Gilbert Montagné what is a French hit song about dancing in the sun.

It was really very interesting to hear the French songs. I could imagine to include one or  other song of OBOY in my Spotify playlist, because I really liked the style of his song.

German-Chinese Meeting #10 Numbers, Weekdays, Months & Seasons

For our final meeting, we decided to talk about numbers, months and seasons and go back a little to teach each other more about the vocabulary than the culture of the respective language.

For numbers, we were really surprised how comparably easy it is since both ways are rather similar to also Engish or Finnish and I guess all of us were pretty good at even saying numbers in the thousands since you just “have to put the numbers from 1 to 10 together” in a certain way. However, there were a couple of interesting differences such as that you are supposed to pronounce the 0 in a number like 102 or that there is a formal and informal version of the number 2. Moreover, I thought it was interesting that Chinese people tend to put a comma after four digits rather than three digits as I am used to – however, in Germany we change dots and commata which is probably just as confusing.

I had to laugh a lot when talking about the Chinese months since they are called 1-month for january, 2-month for february, and so on with “yuè” being the Chinese word for month that just gets added after saying the respective number.

When talking about the seasons, I learned the hard way how important the correct pronounciation is in Chinese since the word for “spring” can also mean “stupid” when pronounced slightly incorrectly.

Overall, I think it was a pleasure to meet my team mates and I learned a lot about the Chinese language and culture of which I apparently knew less about than expected and I hope that I could teach them a little about the German culture and langauge as well. I can really recommend Each-One-Teach-One – also for the aspect of getting to know new, nice people from all over the world!

German-Chinese Meeting #9 Household & Living Conditions

In this session we were talking about the look of a typical Chinese or German Household and the living conditions.

Since I am in Finland, I unfortunately could not show the way my parents’ house looks, however, I taught them that especially in villages it is not uncommon that three or sometimes even four generations live in one house. Therefore, our houses have a lot of floors. Additionally, I taught them about German house-related vocabulary such as chair, table, bathroom, living room or kitchen. For the latter, it was very interesting that in Chinese households parties take place in the dining room near the kitchen as my group mate told me. I guess this also stands true to some German households, however, in my family, when there are parties, we go to the living room and expand a table there so everyone can take a seat so the kitchen is out-of-sight because of the mess during and after cooking and the dishes afterwards.

Considering the lack of space in China as it is reported by the media (especially in cities), I was surprised that my group mate’s family even has a small garden/porch and a balcony which is common for me coming from a tiny village. Otherwise, I was surprised that the living style is rather similar.

Overall a very interesting session!

German-Chinese Meeting #8 Educational System

In today’s session, me and my team mates were talking about our respective educational system. I taught them about the process of going from kindergarten to university in Germany. They seemed especially surprised when I told them that there are three different types of schools one can go to after elemantary school that are all on different levels regarding their “difficulty”. E.g., you can finnish Main school (Hauptschule) in 4-5 years and start working but then you have the lowest degree possible and therefore only few options in jobs. However, when you attend high school (Gymansium) and make your Abitur, one can go to university but you will need 8-9 years to get to your final exam (Abitur). A High school’s schedule is also way more demanding and academic than a Main school’s schedule. Also, there are many special forms of schools and degrees in between these two “extrema” and they differ from state to state what surpised them as much as it surprises me even though I am German and went through that very system. However, the German schedules include a lot more breaks and puts probably less pressure on students than the Chinese system.

In Chinese High schools there are piles of bookes every students has to go through according to some pictures. Moreover, there are banners in class saying things along the lines of “when you study harder you will get a place at a good university [like Beijing]” to encourage the students to study more – I have never seen such banners or messages in German schools. A typical day in Chinese schools also includes dedicated nap-times, wearing uniforms and participating in some sports programme either just running or taking part in huge group dancing or gymnastics events with instructors. I knew about the high standards, the Chinese education system imposes on the students, however, I never really got why it is that demanding until today’s presentation: There is simply too much competition among students. With over 100 million students it makes sense that there need to be some (strict) measures to see who is worth going to a good university and who is not. Additionally, there are influences from the communist government being very demanding.

Overall, one of the most educating session I had with my Chinese peers and I am looking forward to the next one.

German-Chinese Meeting #7 Typical Leisure Activities

In our 7th meeting, we were sharing thoughts on typical Chinese or German leisure activities (if there was no pandemic).

Surprisingly, China’s and Germany’s youth are rather similar when it comes to leisure. In both cultures, we like to engage in activities that include meeting our friends, spending time with them or going to parties. Especially eating together or going to bars seem to be the most common Chinese leisure activities for young people. I was also surprised when they told me that having bubble tea is considered a leisure activity since it seems very specific. However, there are two major differences in typical leisure activities in Germany and in China:

  1. KTV/Karaoke has in Chinese culture a way higher status and is of way higher importance than in Germany. According to my team mates they go to Karaoke Bars regularly and consider it as a leisure activity some people even engage in in the afternoon sometimes as opposed to just in the evening as I would have expected it.
  2. Me and my friends try to spend as much time outside as possible. Whether it is going to a lake in summer, doing sports outside or especially going on hikes. For the latter, my team mates told me that it is almost no option for them when living in a major city in China because it simply does not have enough nature to offer in order to make it properly enjoyable.

All in all, however, the activities Chinese and German youth likes to engage in is rather similar as I would not have expected it. However, considering my past meetings with my team mates it seems like they have generally less leisure than we have in Germany due to their demanding educational system. This topic will be covered in our next meeting and I am really looking forward to it.

Finnish-German 7th meeting: sightseeing in Tampere

Today we decided to meet at the city centre and take a little walk. The weather was luckily very summery with lots of sunshine. I drew the route to the map that can be found below. It was really nice to walk around but I also noticed that there are many things I do not know about Tampere yet. Luckily we didn’t get lost, though 😀

While walking we talked about the covid situation and current restrictions but also about the summer and Finnish cities such as Hämeenlinna and Porvoo. After walking for a while we stopped to look at the views in Näsinpuisto which is one of my favourite spots in Tampere. The amusement park Särkänniemi got us talking about our amusement park experiences and the girls told me that in addition to amusement parks there are also funfairs (moving amusement parks) at least in some smaller German cities. It was quite interesting to hear, since they are also a tradition in Finland, especially during the 1st of May.

Next we stopped at Eteläpuisto to get a view of Pyhäjärvi. We talked about the things that Meike and Chiara miss from Germany and it was quite funny to hear that one of those things is the German bread. The thing that made it funny was that I have heard so many German students say the same. The bakery culture in Germany seems to be quite different from the Finnish one, since it’s not that common to go to buy bread from a bakery in Finland.

We ended up at Keskustori and sat down for a while with some tea and tippaleipä (funnel cake). The girls told me that there are not so many traditional pastries that are eaten on a specific day in Germany. One of these pastries, however, is “Faschingsküchle”, which is eaten during carnival. The dough is made quite similarly to bun dough but inside the pastry there can be e.g currant jam or chocolate. It sounds like something I would really love to try!

Next week we will meet to cook something Finnish at my place (and maybe play some alias). Looking forward to it!

View from Eteläpuisto:

French – German: Usefull words while traveling

After one week break, we had another meeting today.

In the beginning, we were talking a lot about personal stuff, which was related to traveling. Because of that, we then learned some words that can be used in relation to travel or generally in a foreign city, especially in another country.

These included some words like airport, central station, cab, but also distinctive buildings and places like museums, banks, hospitals or schools. We noticed that in French many words are written similarly to English (for example police), which makes it even harder with the pronunciation, because you already have the English pronunciation in your head. And, as we have found out several times, the spelling and pronunciation in French is often very different. Other words, however, were similar to German (for example banque = bank = Bank). Therefore, most of the words will be easy to remember and learn for us.

We also noticed that descriptions at the airport, such as gate or terminal, do not seem to exist in another language but are called the same in every language. Tim had a very good theory about this: Since there are many non-native people at the airport, it would make little sense to translate these words into the local language but so it is easy for everyone to find their way around.

We also talked about the idea that – as soon as Corona allows us to travel again – we want to try to finally see each other in person in France or Germany.

French – German: Cooking Session

On Saturday we finally had our French – German Cooking Session. As Léonie is, unfortunately, currently not in Finland we could not cook all together in real. But at least Tim and me, who are both in Tampere, met and did the Recette Tartiflette. We met at the supermarket, to get all the ingredients needed (potatoes, onions, crème fraîche, cheese). While grocery shopping we had to struggle with some difficulties, because the recipe requires a very special, French cheese – the Reblochon cheese. Unfortunately, we could not find it here in Finland. After extensive Google research, we decided to use Brie as an alternative. Back at my apartment we got straight to cooking as we were already hungry. For the recipe you first had to cut the potatoes into slices, dice the onion and fry both with salt and pepper for a quarter of an hour. Actually, bacon is added, but we omitted it because we wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian. Then the potato and onion mixture was put into a baking dish, alternating with crème fraîche and the cheese. Finally, it had to bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Even though Léonie says it looks half as tasty with Brie as with Reblochon cheese, we really enjoyed the Recette Tartiflette. It is quite similar to the traditionale potato gratin (Kartoffelgratin) known in Germany and very substantial, which is why we just managed half of it. Since the recipe is very easy to prepare, we definitely want to try it again with the Reblochon cheese when we are back in Germany. 

German-Chinese Meeting #5 Family, friends & status

In today’s meeting, we were talking about the composition of families and the value our cultures ascribe to status.

I taught my Chinese teammates about the German words for mother, father, child, sister, etc. and showed them a statistic of the amount of children families have in Germany (statistic_id3051_familien-mit-kindern-in-deutschland-nach-kinderanzahl-2019). I thought it was very surprising that both in German as well as in Chinese we call our parents mama and papa. Since in Germany, we do not really have rituals or traditions that show that elderly people have the highest status, I sadly could not contribute to that topic as much as intended. We respect older people for sure but there is no such thing as a proper tradition showing their allegedly higher status.

I think it is particularly interesting that there are different words in Chinese for both younger and older sisters/brother as well as for the grandparents of your mom’s or dad’s family.

Moreover, all three of us thought it was interesting that when mourning, people in China wear white clothes whereas people in Germany (and the western world) wear black clothes. I also did not know that Chinese people wear red at their wedding (only bride and groom tho) because it is a color representing joy and happiness. They also taught me that there is still a lot of value and importance ascribed to marriage in China. Meaning that parents might get angry at their sons when they do not get married because then, their bloodline would not continue. On the opposite, I feel like marriage in Germany has lost in its meaning and the expectations that Germans have to get married have gotten less – it is still wanted but I think it is of less importance than it was in former times.

This was another very interesting zoom meeting with my Chinese teammates and I am looking forward to the next session.