Summer School: Cultural Landscapes

Cultural Landscapes: Negotiating Cultural Encounters with the English-Speaking World

Erasmus IP Summer School (ERA-IPR-17/13)
Newcastle upon Tyne, 28 July - 8 August 2014

 

Introduction

Cultural landscapes: Negotiating cultural encounters with the English-speaking world Erasmus Intensive Programme takes a close and critical look at the cultural differences and barriers encountered in interaction with English-speaking countries and the specificities of English-mediated intercultural communication. Cultural, i.e. socially constructed concepts are analysed not only as they relate to the pervasive British and American cultures, but also locally (e.g. Scotland, Wales, Ireland) and internationally (World Englishes, English as a lingua franca).
The project is targeted at undergraduate (and in exceptional cases graduate) students of English (also cultural studies, international relations, European studies, communication studies and related fields) whose studies and future careers include intercultural mediation with the English-speaking world. For a period of two weeks, the participants have the possibility of taking part in a number of intensive lectures, seminars, workshops and out-of-classroom activities exploring theoretical as well as practical dimensions of cultural awareness and intercultural dialogue both historically and in the context of the modern world. Before, during and after the IP, ICT-based activities are used. A special website is dedicated to the project and its results.
In short, this summer school is aimed at students who are interested in learning more about the cultural aspects of the English-speaking world and intercultural communication, going beyond what is typically included in their studies.

Programme

The programme comprised 6–8 hours of academic courses per day (attendance is obligatory), with additional activities such as talks on Geordieland and visits to local sites as well as national theme-nights. The schedule is available here. In some slots all students took the same course and in others they had a choice between two courses. Course descriptions are available here. There was no fee for the summer school.

Travel and accommodation

Thanks to the funding by the European Commission, travel expenses are reimbursed (up to a reasonable limit) and all students provided with free accommodation (single rooms, shared bathrooms). We were also able to provide breakfast and lunch.

Venue and weekend activities

As we headed to a fascinating place (you can read a short description of Newcastle here), we did our best to take in the highlights of this part of the UK.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). 

Participant feedback

"Personally, I had great expectations about this summer school, since it was my first time abroad 'on my own'. I was also expecting to learn a lot about the other participants' cultures and countries and how it is to live with people from very different backgrounds. Fortunately, all of these expectations were fulfilled! I absolutely loved the group and I met some great people who I hope to keep in touch with in the future. Not only did I learn during the classes, but I also felt that the social activities and even our free time together contributed to enlarge my knowledge and awareness about our differences and similarities in what concerns our social behaviour and way of thinking. Thank you so much for the opportunity!" (Beatriz, Portugal)
 
"I had a great time during my two weeks in Newcastle. The academic side of the course was excellent as it allowed me to briefly study some modules and concepts that were otherwise unavailable in my home university. I was introduced to some interesting ideas that I may use for a topic for my final year project. The social side was equally as enriching. I met some of the friendliest and best "craic" people I have ever met and I learned so much about different cultures that I never knew before. Everybody was so outgoing and down-to-earth which allowed for interesting opinions and discussions during class. Consequently, group work was also interesting and varied. In general, I would recommend anybody to attend the Summer School for invaluable insights into the academic and social ideas brought up by the teachers and by the students alike." (Patrick, Ireland)
 
"This summer school was truly a life-changing event. I am very glad I was able to participate. It was a lot of work, but it was fun and easy to do, especially with people from other countries. It was fascinating to see how other people think, work and live, and I would not change this experience for anything in the world!" (Jasmina, Croatia)

"I am delighted to have taken part in such a worthwhile Summer School, which was held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. This project has benefited me enormously, as I was given the opportunity to inter-mix with fellow students from various nations across the European Continent. On arriving first to Newcastle, I immediately observed that all the participants and teachers alike were extremely welcoming and friendly. The activities organised for us as a group aided with the interaction of students as a group in general. In terms of the preparation and organisation of this Summer School, my opinion is that the professors and administrators performed extremely well. They maintained the intensity of the Summer School, as well as giving us time to travel around the local area. Overall, I found the Summer School to be of major support to my social skills, academic learning, and also to strengthening my cultural awareness. Undoubtedly, this experience will serve me when I participate in my Erasmus Exchange to Hungary in September of this year. It was such a memorable journey." (Anthony, Ireland)

"When I found out that I had been selected to be part of this programme, I did not know how to react. Now I do. YAY!!! In terms of academics, I discovered new interests and deepened some of my previous ones (such as linguistics). I got the opportunity to speak in English 24/7 for two weeks, so when it comes to practice, it does not get better than that. In terms of social and intercultural communciation, I think we all got an A+ on life for that. If you put about thirty students from different cultures in the same space, doing the same activities, living as one for two weeks, it can go really badly. Or it can turn out to be one of the best experiences of a lifetime. And this is what happened to me." (Inês, Portugal)

 
"This IP was definitely one of the best experiences in my life. Not only did I learn a lot during classes, but I also met people from various cultural backgrounds and that was a learning opportunity as well. All in all, I am glad I participated in the programme and feel that the skills I learned there will help me not only in my career, but also in everyday life as well, since I feel I've really grown as a person." (Matej, Croatia)
 

Scroll down to find out more about the first two editions of the summer school, held in Glasgow and Swansea, and what our participants had to say about them.

 

 

Summer School 2013
Swansea, 29 July-9 August 2013

Participant feedback

"This is a fantastic idea, and is a great opportunity for those students who are unable to participate in a full Erasmus experience. Since it is hugely funded, it is also great for students who otherwise might not be able to afford it, meaning everyone can be included. The program kept us very busy, although all the classes were interesting and there were many group discussions so I think the amount of classes is perfect. I am now able to understand why we do the things we do, and why some cultures do even the simplest things very differently. It also has made me think about other cultures, and to question things instead of just accepting them as fact." (Philippa, Ireland)

"This was a really great experience since we encountered five different cultures in one place, sharing both academic and social experiences. We have had the chance to learn from the teachers as well as from each other. The Intensive Programme truly was intensive. Our days were planned from morning to evening, but I guess that is the reason why we learned so much in such a short period of time. We raised awareness of cross-cultural differences, thus developing skills of successful cross-cultural communication and understanding. I improved my language skills as well as my team work skills. I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about things that I am interested in, such as linguistics for example. One of the best things is probably the fact that I started thinking about things I never thought about before which inspired me to do further research on the matters. All in all, I gained a lot by participating in the summer school." (Marina, Croatia)

"I learned a lot about working under time pressure and also how to organize myself within a work group. I discovered more about myself through the discovery of the Other and other cultures and also by communication with the other IP students. I also thought more about my future plans, I am now sure that I want to do Erasmus studies for half a year at least." (Débora, Portugal)

"I got to participate in interesting classes that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to study. It was very rewarding personally, lots of group work, which was beneficial. I made new friends from different countries. We didn’t have a lot of free time but this was conducive to interacting with all of the different participants." (Jennifer, Ireland)

"I gained intercultural competence, learned about Welsh history and culture, gained insights into various culture-related concepts and models, met interesting people with various European identities." (Michael, Germany)

"The summer school was great! I think that participation in this IP helped me to improve my language skills, and I'm thinking of spending some time as an Erasmus student. It also increased my team work skills and self-esteem. I learned lot of things about other cultures and now I feel more like a European citizen. All the courses were very interesting and I also got some ideas for my thesis. It was very exhausting and I worked hard, but I will greatly benefit from that." (Mirna, Croatia)

"In my opinion, the IP summer school is an excellent idea and a great way to bring students from various countries together. It is a perfect opportunity for them to exchange ideas and broaden their horizons. Overall I was very content with the organisation. The schedule was very intense, which means that we did not have a lot of free time. I consider this to be a very good thing because we made the most of our 2 weeks here and learned all we could about our respective cultures as well as the Welsh culture and society. This summer school also encouraged me to reflect upon the ‘little things’ that identify and shape our identities. I developed my communication skills and I became more confident when exchanging ideas with people from other countries." (Monika, Ireland)

"Everything that we were promised to learn we did, all the cultural experiences were amazing and I have no complaints whatsoever. It was a really great experience that completely changed the way I see other cultures, stereotypes and cultural aspects worldwide. I’m very thankful to everyone that allowed me to be a part of this experience because I will forever remember and apply in my future career all that was mentioned here." (Filipa, Portugal)

Programme

The programme comprised 6–8 hours of academic courses per day, with additional activities such as talks on Wales and visits to local sites as well as national theme-nights. The schedule is available here and course descriptions here. There was no fee for the summer school.

Travel and accommodation

Thanks to the funding by the European Commission, travel expenses were refunded in full (up to a reasonable limit) and all students were provided with free accommodation. We were also able to provide breakfast and lunch.

 

Summer School 2012
Glasgow, 6-17 August 2012



Participant feedback

“We have learned a lot about other cultures, which made us more open to them, intercultural communication and understanding. When it comes to academic outcomes, it will be very helpful for us to have learned many new concepts about culture, pragmatics, language and different perceptions of the world. I also got some great ideas for my thesis.” (Eva, Croatia)

“In the IP I specialized in various fields which are not offered at my home university. I gained intercultural social competences and have achieved an insight into European academic work.” (Tim, Germany)

“I am now aware of several aspects of all the countries involved that I would not have learned otherwise, and all the classes gave me a new perspective of the current European reality. I also feel that my English has improved.” (Diogo, Portugal)

“Taking part in the IP gave me the opportunity to see the perspective of other cultures on the topic of cultural differences. I learned a lot about how even everyday situations and encounters differ in other cultures. I think that participation in the IP will help me in my further studies and life in general because I now feel more confident interacting with other cultures.” (Nina, Slovenia)

“First of all, I improved my English skills, which will be quite helpful in the future. I also improved my linguistic skills, which was something I was expecting since I want to work as a researcher in that field in the future. I learnt a lot about other European cultures, which was a great and unique experience (probably difficult to happen in Portugal). I improved my group work skills, too.” (Ana Sofia, Portugal)

“I have learned a lot about other countries and cultures, gained knowledge of different topics, such as pragmatics, immigration, politeness etc. I have also learned more about the English language itself and as a future teacher of English I will greatly benefit from the summer school.” (Nina, Croatia)

“I got the chance to participate in (international) discussions, which is very rarely a part of my studies at my university. The broad variety of the class topics made me think about the many differences between nations and I learned to discuss about them in more than just a lay way. The discussions were at a good intellectual level and very lively, the activities were very educational and made the seemingly awfully full daily schedule exciting and something to look forward to each morning. I wish it would last longer than just two weeks or to have the opportunity to take part in a similar course again. This IP was more than I could wish it to be.” (Ajda, Slovenia)

Programme

The programme comprised 6–8 hours of academic courses per day, with additional activities such as talks on Scotland and visits to local sites as well as national theme-nights. The schedule is available here and course descriptions here. There was no fee for the summer school.

Travel and accommodation

Thanks to the funding by the European Commission, travel expenses were refunded in full (up to a reasonable limit) and all students were provided with free accommodation. We were also able to provide breakfast and British-style lunch.