Virtually crossing the planet: How I’m navigating my way to my internship in Belgium

Virtually crossing the planet: How I’m navigating my way to my internship in Belgium

We at ti communication are augmenting our course offerings to include the virtual realm. Within the context of our newly-defined and even more sustainable learning process, we now also offer the e-learning tool Country Navigator: With it, course participants can deepen the skills acquired in our intercultural training courses and enhance their learning success on a long-term basis. Alexandra Lottner, a former intern at ti communication, has tested the tool in advance to determine how to use it to successfully navigate through international day-to-day business.

Auf Wiedersehen, Regensburg Bruckmandl – Salut, Manneken Pis! My time at ti communication is barely over, and I’ve already become an assignee myself – at the Belgian branch office of a German automotive manufacturer in Brussels. To prepare for my foreign internship, I had the opportunity to test the e-learning tool Country Navigator. I can tell you this much right off the top: Even though I was familiar with the basics of intercultural theory based on my international studies and have had a few long stays abroad, I have definitely been able to enhance and deepen my knowledge with the help of this tool.

But just how does intercultural e-learning work with the Country Navigator?

The tool, offered by ti communication, uses interactive modules to impart content that will be specifically relevant for my Belgian work day. Yet the skills I learn from it also make my collaboration with foreign colleagues much easier in general.

Global Effectiveness – Interactive instead of “grey” cultural theory

When beginning the e-learning session, I find it very helpful to start with the general cultural module Global Effectiveness. Through alternating theoretical lessons and interactive case studies, I can solidify and expand my basic knowledge in intercultural theory related to a business context.

To achieve this, the Country Navigator makes use of the practical concept of the “RISK” framework: Recognize differences, assess their potential Impact, Strategize how to best manage them and apply self-management Knowhow. On three dimensions, I am given a clear depiction of how cultural orientations influence one’s own behavioural preferences in day-to-day collaboration. These dimensions focus on working, relationship and thinking styles, which take different forms from one culture to the next.

In its implementation, the Country Navigator thoroughly illustrates what these more or less abstract dimensions can specifically mean in practical situations.

Here’s an example: The category “relationship style” shows, among other things, that a project in a strongly task-oriented environment can only progress when the necessary processes and plans have been established. In relationship-oriented cultures, on the other hand, an emotional bond must first be established between colleagues or business partners.

At the same time, the Country Navigator illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of these orientation extremes. This makes it easier for me to detach myself from my own culturally-shaped perspective. I can thus better understand actions that had previously been completely foreign to me and identify them as positive action strategies. With the aid of interactive role-playing games, I can also put myself in the shoes of colleagues from other cultures and act out how I can adapt to foreign cultural behaviours.

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