I had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in the trainee program of my former employer, the CHAMP Initiative. Recruitment interviews, accompaniment, mentoring. Our candidates for the Frankfurt office were international and came beside Germany from many other parts of the world.
I gladly took this opportunity to educate myself. One of my favorite points of discussion was the question of how I would best find an introduction to the respective culture of my counterpart’s home country. Here is a short hit list.
- `Learn about the daily life ́. Finding friends who involve you in their daily routines is one option. While travelling, one can invite the tour guide to a personal lunch and will learn a lot about the daily life by listening. But be aware: In China, for example, you have to ask three times before an invite is accepted.
- ´Learn the language’. The construction of language determines the thought processes. I made it to B2 level in Dutch – Ik spreek Duits, Engels en een kleen beetje Nederlands – after living in Amsterdam for a few years. After two years in Saudi Arabia, my vocabulary in Arabic was still limited to a few words. خميس ونيس – is an important weekend message there. I am aware, it is hard, but if you learn a new language, you will get a new soul.
- ´Read the literature’. When living in Boston and exploring the New England States, it was wonderful to discover John Irving’s novels – like among others “The Hotel New Hampshire” – and read the original version in English.
- ´Test the cuisine’. That’s absolutely my thing. Super, to taste a country’s culture. This developed into a routine and the small sweets became a popular souvenir from my business and cultural trips. A small selection (in the picture) from Australia, Ecuador, Japan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Delicious! And not to miss, the turrón de Tarragona.
- ´Visit a museum’. National Heritage, Art History. On occasion a beautiful addition. Particularly impressive when historical events are experienced in the context of a different point of view. My tip: the National Museum of Singapore. A country as a melting pot of many Asian cultures.
There are the beautiful things in life that can bring you closer to culture and garnish a business trip with valuable experience.
My thanks go to the Champs from this time for the good advice and tips.
´Listen to the music’ is still missing on my hit list. Also, the cultural learnings of children books, that I have had in my hands; and the way, that people celebrate festivals …
What else is missing? Feel free to think for further additions.