Wednesday, May 21, 2008

cross cultural lessons

Often times I am learning much more than just German in class. Here are things I learned this week, according to random classmates + my teacher:

Angelica, a woman from Chile, told me all about her new permanent makeup (aka tattoos). She got her eyebrows done and eyeliner tattooed into her eyelashes. She said the woman that did it came to her house. It costed 200€ total compared to 500€ if she had gotten it done at a salon here.

I tried to ask more questions but she struggles understanding. All I got was that the woman that did it came from Paraguay and didn't have it done herself. The funniest part was that she started asking random classmates if they also had it done, so I then asked her if she actually finds other women that say they also have permanent makeup and she said yes. She wasn't sure how often she would need it refreshed, although she guessed twice a year.

According to Matsumi, who comes from Japan, women in Japan don't get this done. She says the industry is big with Korean women who also love plastic surgery.

Other revelations for me this week were about our CV's / resumes. Our teacher said said that it's required in Germany to put a picture on your CV, as well as your marital status, birth date, and whether or not you have children. (I've heard some of this before). She was very frank that people are discriminated against, especially for their age and appearance. Again, I could not hide my shock and dismay.

It sounds like photos on CV's are the consensus around the world (at least from the countries of my classmates, save Peru + the US). Matsumi even said that people in Japan must hand write their CV. And I'm supposed to think Germans are going to want to hire me, an 'Ausländer' (foreigner)? Fortunately I have a job I love.

Since Germans are health loving and very body oriented, somehow the topic came up in our book that it was healthy to take cold showers. The teacher asked everyone if they did this to increase their immune systems. Angelica says she does, and then turns to me and says, 'keine Cellulitis' (no cellulite) as she pointed to her hips. And here I thought I had my good genes to thank.

Germans also have a sickness, which they call 'kreislauf'. The word translates to 'circulation'. All I can figure is that it's dizziness or an ailment unique to the German population. I have to laugh when I hear someone say they have kreislauf and act as though it's a major issue, although it seems to be unique to them. If I have a dizzy spell it's hardly worthy of labeling with a sickness.

During our breaks the conversations are always rather interesting. The two South American women were saying how great German men are when compared to the machismo attitudes of the men from their homelands. They loved having the ability to work if they desired to and that they weren't expected to stay home and cater to a man's needs.

Lastly is pop culture. Valeré, a young woman from Kosovo, always plays music. Even if it's early morning and she's working on her homework, she will start playing music on her cell phone. It's always something that evokes a lot of energy that I envision playing in a dance club... only it's not even 9AM.

In our unit on music we discussed what types of music we prefer. Matsumi and I were asked what our favorite music groups were. She said Radiohead and I said Coldplay. While I would say Radiohead is slightly more obscure than Coldplay, she was passed over and I was met with blank stares. Not even the young people in my class had heard of Coldplay. I went into it further by saying the lead singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow... still nothing. Thankfully Matsumi shook her head and reassured me that we weren't complete freaks.

1 comment:

Jul said...

Germans' self-diagnosed "Kreislauf" problems make me giggle, too.