Hey rhetoric students in Uppsala, Here are some responses to our class together the other day. We had a blast!
* Conversation was better than the Australia connection because there was less structure and more to talk about since the Swedish kids have a very different culture than us.
* We feel that the conversation was better since there were fewer things we were relegated to doing and instead could just talk about our respective countries.
* Because we watched the same clip we each had similar stereotypes of Sweden and the aspects of their own country.
There were still technical difficulties that hindered cross-cultural communication. We had very similar humor; surprisingly they enjoy the exact same shows that we do. It was very surprising and ironic that they knew more about Jay Leno and David Letterman than we did. They [the Swedes] admitted the government would be considered left-leaning on our standards of right and left. We didn’t have any significant language barriers, they understood basically everything we said and we understood them clearly as well.
Both our group and the Swedish group felt like the same kinds of things were funny, and we could both laugh about the points we both put on our Top Ten List. They could see the irony in the Stockholm Swedish Daily Show videos even though some people in Sweden took the criticism literally. They were familiar with the typical American stereotypes (such as rednecks), but were aware at the same time that all Americans do not necessarily fit these stereotypes. We felt that we had a lot in common with the other group.
We had a pleasant experience with our Swedish friends. Despite several minutes of technical difficulty, we finally connected and had a great time. When discussing the John Stewart video about “socialist” Sweden, the Swedes informed us that while they found it funny, a Swedish tabloids took the video literally and reported that Americans apparently hate Sweden.
We enjoyed making the “top 10” list together, and both of us laughed at each others’ ideas about “Ten signs you wrote your paper using Wikipedia.” We chose this topic because we knew that both of us were aware of what Wikipedia is.
The only thing we think could be improved is the technology.
The cross-cultural connection helped expose a few of the cultural differences between America and Sweden. Our group had misinterpretation when trying to create our top ten list. However, the experience allowed us to remember to always check in for mutual understanding when collaborating on a project. The Australia connection was more successful because it was less structured and we were able to interact with the international students from a more casual stance. The technical difficulties distracted from the success of the meeting as a whole.
It was overall an interesting experience and rewarding to get to know students from another country. We learned to be careful with idiomatic expressions, but our misunderstanding ended up being funny and not being an obstacle. Technology was a barrier, the sound and video quality was lacking, and the program is slightly difficult and confusing to use.