Discovering German Culture

New member of the Kinder Exchange team, Juliana Huber, tells us about German customs and why she loves discovering new cultures.

We can’t help but get excited when a new school year starts.

Sure, it may signify the end of summer, but it also seems to signify new beginnings. With a new school year comes new challenges, new projects, new adventures, and a lot of new faces!

One particular new face here at Kinder Exchange is Juliana Huber. A French and P.E teacher based in Freiburg, South-West Germany, Juliana will be looking after our Anglo-Germanic exchanges.

Juliana Huber, coordinator at Kinder Exchange
We’ll be seeing more of Juliana around Kinder Exchange from now on

Juliana’s passion for languages and travel was sparked by a love of all things  French. Having started to learn the language at the age of 8, she pursued studies in languages and sport and was soon packing up her suitcase and venturing off to live in France.

Living abroad, she not only developed her language skills and understanding of French culture, but her outlook changed too. Spending time in another country led Juliana to become more open towards other people, as well as towards their traditions and customs. It was this that motivated Juliana to join the Kinder Exchange team, where she would be able to help young people to meet exchange partners with common interests and to support them in making the courageous yet wholly rewarding step of embarking on a language exchange.

After hearing about Juliana’s experiences in France, we were pretty keen to learn what she made of her own country’s culture! We asked Juliana to tell us about life in Germany, here is what we discovered…

A Christmas Market Scene in Germany
Christmas Markets in Germany are known for being, well, really Christmassy!
Christmas

You only have to take a quick look at the world-renowned Christmas Markets in Germany to understand how important Christmas is there! In Germany, presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve and families typically have a feast of carp and potato salad in the evening.

School Day

In German schools, students tend to start the school day at around 7:30am. Sounds early right? Perhaps, but they finish school earlier too: usually at around 1pm in the afternoon. This gives young people ample time for extra-curricular activities.

A lake and mountain in Munich, Bavaria
Germany is full of remarkable natural landscapes, and citizens work hard to protect them.
Landscape

Germany is very mountainous, which means that lots of Germans love going skiing and hiking. However, unlike here in the UK, a very small portion of Germany is by the sea, so they have to go a little further afield for those long stretches of sandy beaches that we like to bask on!

Nature

Nature is very important in Germany, and people are willing to go to great lengths to protect their environment.

Sport

Rugby is barely known in Germany (despite studying sport, Juliana hadn’t seen a rugby match until she was 21 years old and living in France!); so what sports are popular? Handball, football, and volleyball are very widely practiced in Germany, as well as gymnastics and mountain biking.

A pile of pretzels orBrezeln
Pretzels, or Brezeln, were believed to have been invented in the Early Middle Ages by monks. Incredibly, they’re still a favourite now!
Food

You can’t mention Germany customs without talking about the food! Particular favourites include Brezeln (Pretzels) and Bratwurst (sausages). We can confirm that they’re extremely tasty, and definitely worth the trip!

Cars

Finally, Juliana explains, Germans are very proud of their high quality automobiles. Well after all that daydreaming we’ve been doing about Volkswagen Campervans, who are we to argue with that?

Cards with greetings from berlin written on themIf all that hasn’t whet your appetite for a trip to Germany, well, we don’t know what will! To find out more about exchanges in Germany, give us a call or drop us an email before completing your registration.

 

How young people benefit from cultural exchanges

More and more people are beginning to understand why learning a language is important. As a result we’re all wondering what the best way to learn a language is. The immersion technique through cultural exchanges is quickly becoming a favorite.

So what’s so great about cultural exchanges?

There are so many advantages of learning a language through a cultural exchange that we can’t list them all. So here are our top ten reasons why young people benefit from cultural exchanges…

Cultural exchanges friendship confidence
Young people build confidence through overcoming obstacles and broadening their horizons.
Get motivated!

Learning grammar and vocabulary in the classroom is all well and good, but is it all that inspiring? Visiting another country on a cultural exchange gives a context to language learning because young people can apply their language skills. As a result they’ll be amazed by how much they’ve already learned and will discover the purpose of all that spelling and conjugation practice.

Develop communication and problem-solving skills

A cultural exchange is a great way for young people to prove what they know, but on some occasions they may find themselves lost for words! Such situations are often hilarious as your son or daughter will have to get creative to communicate with their host family. This will improve their communication skills and problem-solving skills, and help them to remember new vocabulary too!

Stop worrying about mistakes

As soon as speaking a language is necessary to communicate with those around you. In consequence it becomes easier to shed that self-consciousness about making mistakes or looking silly. Such sheepishness is found in abundance in secondary schools, and as such adolescences often benefit both linguistically and emotionally from cultural exchanges.

Learn the living language

Languages are living: they change and evolve with society. This makes learning a language all the more difficult yet all the more interesting. Through immersion in a family on a cultural or language exchange, young people can learn the language of young people. They’ll also learn to speak more idiomatically, just like the natives!

Experience a different culture

Some things just can’t be taught in a classroom, to some extent culture is one of them. The best way to learn about a country’s culture is to experience it in the native language. Cultural exchanges also give young people an important insight into other perspectives, broadening their horizons and encouraging them to develop their opinions and ideas.

Overcome obstacles

Cultural exchanges can be challenging, but therein lies their value. Facing hurdles during an exchange gives young people a sense of accomplishment, boosting their self-esteem and self-awareness. As a result they return home with the ambition and confidence necessary to take on new challenges and pursue new goals.

Become socially adaptable

Immersion in another culture often involves engaging in new and unfamiliar social situations. Through navigating the social customs of another country, young people become more flexible and adaptable to unknown situations in general. They also learn to appreciate other cultures and ideas, and become more open to compromise.

Cultural Exchange Friendship
Young people often build lifelong friendships during cultural exchanges
Build lifelong friendships

During a cultural exchange young people participate in the day-to-day life of a host family, effectively becoming another member of the family. They will return home to their actual family at the end of the exchange having formed long-lasting bonds with their hosts and with many new friendships. Many young people stay in contact with their hosts long after their exchange has ended and even continue to visit one-another in the future.

Get accustomed to foreign environments

Young people who participate in exchanges are often more comfortable in multicultural and multilingual environments in the future. Not will they go on to feel more at ease when abroad and traveling, but will adapt better to new environments.

Become a host

A cultural exchange is as much about hosting as it is about traveling abroad. For many young people this may be their first experience of hosting someone that they have not met before. As a result they will develop vital social skills, learning to be sensitive to the needs of others and to analyze group dynamics.

So what are the disadvantages?

Cultural exchanges sound perfect, right? However, there are a few challenges…

Finding a host family

So you’ve decided that a cultural exchange is the best way for your child to learn a language? Now it’s time for the mammoth task of finding a trustworthy host family. For those fortunate enough to have friends in far-flung places this poses no problem, however we aren’t all so lucky.
That’s where online platforms such as Kinder Exchange come in. Although there are many exchange services out there, Kinder Exchange is one of the few platforms that takes on the matchmaking process themselves. Platforms such as Kinder Exchange allow you to rest easy knowing that your child is in safe hands.

Going away from home is daunting

Being separated from your friends and family can be daunting for a young person as well as for their family. However such challenges make participating in an exchange all the more enriching. At Kinder Exchange, we help you to get to know the partner family before the exchange so that you know when your child will be staying. By speaking via email, Skype, and social networks, young people can get to know their partners too so that they know what to expect before arriving.