Culture studies

Being part of an international expedition is not only about the science, it also gives scientists the opportunity to experience other cultures. At the OSP for Expedition 381 not only did we celebrate a  Greek national holiday, but also Valentines and Chinese New Year.

Happy Chinese New Year
Shunli Li and his wishes for the New Year. Photo: SLi, ECORD/IODP

Since the OSP is located in Bremen, Germany, the participants of course also experience German Culture – especially when it comes to food and language, sometimes even a combination of both. For example when a dessert sounds as if you’re calling your colleague names (Rote Grütze – very traditional in the north of Germany) and a side dish sounds like you are scolding a child (Knödel – a side dish from southern Germany).

Food is important for the scientists, it feeds the brain cells and brightens up the mood. At lunch times, when in Germany you traditionally eat a hot meal, talk of course revolves around science, but a walk to and from the dining hall also gives the participants the opportunity to let their thoughts wander off.

As many of the OSP participants are finding, the German language is quite complicated. The scientists are doing their best to cope with German wording and trying to order their meals (just pronouncing their favourite kind of roll – Kürbiskernbrötchen for example is hard enough), or even just learning how to say ‘Hi!’. “Moin” in this case is perfect, you can say it at any time. One can also say “Moin Moin”, though some people might get the impression that you are chatty.

Germans do use words such as “Geschirrrückgabestelle” or “Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit”, though often it is all in the pronunciation. “Tschüss” just means ‘bye!’, but seemingly it has to be said in a higher voice than normal.

Will one month be long enough for the science team? Probably not!

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