As in every previous year the Beijing Office of Freie Universität organized on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of June an intercultural training for the CSC scholarship holders who are heading to Berlin in September 2013.
Eleven students participated in this event, which took place at the German Center in Landmark Tower. They received an overview about Germany, German costumes and habits and about students’ life in Berlin. Some of them, students of German studies, had already been to Berlin and could enrich the meeting with valuable personal experiences. For other participants this will be the first extended stay abroad and were therefore dealing with a number of questions, with tension and excitement.
The two experienced trainers from Deutsch-Kolleg of Tongji University, Ms. Katrin Jander and Ms. Yang Li, came from Shanghai solely for the training, bringing plenty of useful materials and texts, which were replenished with flyers and city-maps from Berlin.
First, Germany and Berlin in general were introduced (“Multicultural city of Berlin”), followed by a presentation on Berlin’s sights and on some of its 120 museums. During the afternoon the FU Alumnus Dr. Zhang Zhikun, who obtained its doctorate in anthropology of education at Freie Universität, shared its own experience about phd studies and life in the German capital. Next was the section “Fit for German Culture!” This part included an interesting work on prejudices and stereotypes on the basis of some pictograms, which repeatedly set off laughter, approving nodding and debates. Eventually, to get the right mood for the German dinner, the students tried the proper use and setting of plates and cutlery. It turned out, that the supposedly known yet leaves enough room for new learning… But here, as in so many situations, the easiest solution is: wait briefly, observe and imitate!
On the second day “Communication at University” was the main topic: how should the students communicate with their supervisor? How are formal e-mails written in German? How can the brief professors’ consulting time be used productively? These and further differences between the professor-student communication in China and in Germany were handled.
In conclusion, before heading to a Beijing duck restaurant for a final, common meal, students’ life in Berlin or rather in students’ dormitories was discussed. The participants, who studied at FU Berlin before, could once more help their fellow students through personal accounts. Matters such as separation of waste, energy saving, rules of respectful cohabitation, important things to take to Germany, public transport, sport at university, food and the canteen were covered.
It was all in all an informative weekend, which provided an opportunity for the students to meet and socialize, before leaving for Germany. We wish all CSC scholarship holders a good trip, lots of fun in Berlin and a successful start at Freie Universität!
And we hope that the intercultural training helped with some of the worries concerning this new start, since as it is said in Germany: „Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen…“ (No master has yet fallen from the sky).