Advent Calendars!

We have a proud to announce the launch of the 2015 Lifeswap advent calendar. Steffen has bought a pile of envelopes and stamps for sending them around the globe to you. Just $8. Click on this link to take you to our online store. And stay tuned...two more episodes are planned for the new year! Thank you for your ongoing support.

Episode 6! - Just Sharon

Anyone who has gone for a bush walk in New Zealand will know that the minute you hear someone coming towards you, you must prepare your friendly one-liner and a smile that says “Good on ya, mate. We're all in this together. Bloody brilliant, isn't it!” Failure to do so is just plain rude. Often this practice spills out into moderately populated suburban streets. Anywhere and at any time possible, Kiwis share this seemingly irrepressible need to connect with other people – to engage in chatty pleasantries, find out where they're from and a cheery “Mate!”, the great social leveler among titles, is never out of place. But, in episode 6, Duncan must finally come to terms with the fact that asking strangers at a German supermarket checkout weirdly personal questions about their weekend plans is not necessarily going to elicit a friendly response.
Lifeswap 6 – Just Sharon from Steffen Kreft on Vimeo.

Ah New Zealand. The land where “mister” and “missus” are all but obsolete terms. Episode 6 investigates Kiwi squeamishness with formality and Jörg gives some advice on German supermarket check-out protocol...

Check out our other episodes:
Episode 1 - Complete Rubbish:
Episode 2 - The Tea Towel Stinks:
Episode 3 - The Winter Deniers:
Episode 4 - Change! Urine Stinks:
Episode 5 - Yule Love It (Christmas Special):

Episode Four...Duncan's wee problem

Lifeswap 4 – Change! Urine Stinks (AKA Change your Instincts) from Steffen Kreft on Vimeo.

The fact that, in the German language, one still refers to one's...ehem...crotch zone as the Schambereich or "shame area" seems in dire need of revision. Come 30 degree celcius heat or a trip to the sauna, Germans get positively gleeful, even mildly zealous, about the health benefits, nay health necessities, of being, as Jörg says, "naked in za nature". Perhaps "shame area" could be recycled as a geographical term for the stretch of sand on a New Zealand beach between the high tide mark and the dunes where even the most body-proud of Kiwis can be observed performing an elaborate, one-handed, one-legged ritualistic dance behind a towel while changing out of wet togs. What with gratuitous public nudity and some rather confronting bathroom rules, episode 4 is Duncan's turn to be seriously confronted by living abroad. Some cultural differences just refuse to be bridged...

Episode Three!

...In which Jörg must come to terms with the damp, the draughts and the rationed oil heaters of a kiwi flat and Duncan discovers a fundamental German social leveller: the “Hausschuh” (kind of like slippers in the English speaking world, but somehow more ergonomic). Enjoy the next domestic adventure of our two heroes on cultural exchange and, if it makes you smile, send it to a friend! Every time a new person sees Lifeswap, joy warms our insides like a wall-mounted, adjustable German central heating unit.

The Winter Deniers from Steffen Kreft on Vimeo.

Episode Four...this isn't going to be pretty

So friends, we now turn our attention to episode number four, in which I finally get to ask a question that has been niggling me for a some time:

Why do some Germans toilets present you with a shelf at the back and a hole at the front? When I first encountered one of these "Flachspüler" (horizontally flushing) toilets, I was confronted with a series of emotions.

Firstly, confusion: was one meant to straddle these things backwards? The answer was clearly no.

Which then led to other emotions: disbelief, shock, disgust (is that an emotion?), fear, then a kind of peaceful acceptance and now, on occasions, a morbid interest.

The disadvantages seem to me, a non-German and prudish Kiwi, rather obvious. I won't go into detail (this is a family blog), but suffice to say that certain unpleasant issues can arise including odour, trying not to look down as you grope for the flush, then a phenomenon I will call "heavy streaking" and, the worst of all, on occasion, finger grazing. (Okay, you can open your eyes. The worst part of this blogpost is now over.)

The advantages of the Flachspüler? These appear to be far more elusive. I have now quizzed quite a few Germans at parties as to why some people opt for this kind of toileting experience in their homes and work places and have never had a convincing response. But one thing is clear: just as the German language does bother with euphemisms (Brustwarze is the word for nipple and literally means "breast wart" - I rest my case) so too do the Germans themselves seem to be completely un-squeamish when it comes to bodily functions...Steffen's got some fun drawing ahead!

MFAT New Zealand and the Goethe-Institut: our patrons.

Genesis - A Creation Story 

In the beginning was Goethe.

And then Goethe said to William and Steffen "Let there be Life(swap)" and there was Life(swap).

And on the second episode, MFAT said "Let us divide the funding" and it was so.

And then for the third, fourth and fifth episodes, Goethe and MFAT said "Let us offer joint funding for future episodes, so that this may be hereafter called a "series". And there were some costs yet to be covered and MFAT said "Let us cover those extra costs." And it came to be.

And so Steffen, who had created Joerg and Duncan and Ange and Hannes continued to bring forth Life(swap) abundantly.

And, despite predictable glitches with the Apple at the centre of this creation, we are SO GRATEFUL to our generous patrons and have designed a special coat of arms in their joint honour.