If you have ever lived overseas you likely have had the experience of committing some type of cultural faux pas, breaking an unwritten rule, doing something ‘wildly inappropriate’, only to find out later the ‘error’ of your ways. But how do you explain these experiences to your students?
An awesome cross-cultural resource demonstrating some of the differences between the German and New Zealand ways of life is Lifeswap, an animated series which features Kiwi Duncan and German Jörg living in each other’s countries and the experiences and misadventures of their life swap. Much of the content is based on the real-life experiences of the creators, as an ex-exchange student who lived in Switzerland I can certainly relate to many of those experiences.
From how to correctly sort your rubbish in Germany (Ep 1: Complete rubbish) or avoid confrontation in NZ (Ep 2: The tea towel stinks) to appropriate Sunday activities (Ep 8: Sonntag) and Christmas celebrations ( Ep 5: Yule love it), the episodes are around five minutes long and are an awesome conversation starter. They also have wonderful small details, from the posters on the wall in the background of bands and movies of the country, to the different styles of furniture or light switches, there are many little things you might not notice on first look that can be unpacked with your class. A word of caution though, Lifeswap was written for adults so some topics in the clips may not be appropriate for school, be sure to watch and consider them before you share them with your students.