Category Archives: Cultural differences

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Crazy carnival winning photos

Carnival photo competition, photo competition, carnival

Drum roll please…the five carnival competition winners

Thank you to everyone around the world who entered the carnival competition. We were overwhelmed by so many entries from so many countries Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, England and more.

After seeing your weird, wild and wonderful photos, we picked ourselves up off the floor (sometimes from laughing, sometimes just from surprise) and chose these five brilliant winners plus an honourable mention.

And here they are…

Lu Pereira

Carnival photo competition

黒い ハート

Carnival photo competition

Tarik Elamari

Carnival photo competition

Mateus Sousa

Carnival photo competition

Guy Simões

Carnival photo competition

Each of you crazy carnivallers win a 12-month Premium Membership to learn any or all (if you’re feeling ambitious) of our 12 languages. And you get also free access to all this on the go, via our mobile app.

Honourable mention to Ludovico Luca Santucci

Carnival photo competition

The busuu team rewards your effort and creativity with a 1-month Premium Membership.

Happy language learning!

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Get your carnival photos in & win!

Carnival, photo competition, party, celebration

Last chance to get carnival crazy and win!

You’ve really shown us how your country and culture carnivals.

You’ve made us laugh, choke on our tea, even hide behind our desks with all your crazy carnival photos!

If you haven’t shown us what you’ve got yet, there’s still one week left to share your photos and win one of five 12-month Premium Memberships.

Carnival competition final entries…

Were you splattering your face with paints, making headdresses, wearing mad wigs or funny masks? Wherever you do carnival, we’d love to see your top carnival moments!

Just upload your carnival photos and show us what it means to you. You have until 21st March and we’ll be announcing winners on 25th March.

Lots of ways to enter and win

It’s easy to share your carnival photos right here and be on your way towards learning a new language with one of our Premium Memberships.

Tweet or Instagram your picture with #busuucarnival.*

*Our competition opens 21st February and closes 21st March. For full terms and conditions, click here.

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It’s carnival time! Celebrate and share a photo with busuu

At this time of year something out of the ordinary happens around the world…there’s mayhem and madness, people do weird and wonderful things, bring out their best costumes…and come together to celebrate carnival!

carnival around the world, photo competition, carnival

Win with our carnival photo competition…

Tell us how you do it, and to celebrate world festivals happening everywhere, you could win one of five 12-month Premium Memberships with busuu.

Do you wear feathers and samba? Do you wear coloured beads and catch doubloons? Maybe you wear a gown and masquerade?

Just upload your carnival photo onto our Facebook app by 21st March 2014, showing us what carnival means in your culture and why you love it.

Lots of ways to enter

It might be the excitement of setting up or dressing up. It could be the beat of the drums or the bass of the sound system. Or is it the faces of your friends lit up by lights or made up with face paints?

You can upload your picture onto our Facebook page or alternatively use Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #busuucarnival, share with your friends and get them to vote for your entry. The entries with the most votes will win!

Our competition opens 21st February and closes 21st March 2014. For full terms and conditions, click here.

Amazing carnival traditions from around the world

In the UK…it’s a celebration of diversity
We save our carnival for summer and it’s a celebration of London’s diversity. We love how London bursts with colour – there are murals everywhere…

In Spain…something fishy happens
Tenerife’s carnival is seen as second only to Rio’s. Thousands of people in costumes dance until the early hours right up until Ash Wednesday when there is the symbolic burial of the sardine or ‘entierro de la sardina’. And then there’s the Carnival Queen to crown – an event watched by thousands.

In Italy…it’s not just about Venice
The largest food fight in the country takes place in Ivrea, Northern Italy. The food of choice? Oranges. Thousands are thrown in the streets and are said to represent the stones thrown at the castle of a tyrant king who was overthrown by the people of the town. Held in February, it too celebrates the end of winter and a new beginning.

In Venice…it can be frightening
Baroque costumes and beautiful masks turn the city into a fairytale. But this year there was something a little different. Hundreds of zombies and zombie hunters marched through the streets!

In Germany…it’s ‘crazy days’
Every shopkeeper, policeman, barman; every virgin, prince and farmer (the last three are Cologne traditions!) are dressed up in crazy costume to celebrate the start of Lent.

In India…it’s paint from head to toe
The Holi festival says goodbye to winter and the triumph of good over evil in the most colourful way possible – every paint colour you can think of is thrown – and everyone and anyone is game.

In the US…it’s all purple, green and gold
Purple is justice. Green is faith. Gold is power. Huge floats line the streets and ‘krewes’ throw colourful beads and coins to the crowd. People dance, drink, picnic and party on the streets until midnight on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) before Lent begins.

In Brazil…you can be in the show
Salvador is Brazil’s favourite carnival. They say that ‘If you’re in Rio you are a spectator but if you are in Salvador you are in the show’.

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Cross-language relationships – plus special offer!

Intercultural relationships are on the rise, so what better day than Valentine’s Day to celebrate them here at busuu? They can be an enriching – and very funny – experience, so we asked busuu users about the benefits of learning their partner’s language.

We also have a special Valentine’s Day 2-for-1 offer, available for 24 hours only – keep reading to find out more! And don’t forget to boost your language skills with our Valentine’s Day learning unit. Perfect for impressing someone special!

valentine's day, love, romance, discount

Enjoy the best of both worlds

As well as learning more words for ‘I love you’, busuu users in a relationship with someone from another country said they also experience a new way of thinking and living. You can pick the best bits from each other’s culture to create your own unique one!

“We bring two different cultures, and this enriches both of us,” says Oula, a Lebanese-Canadian married to a Venezuelan. Marta from Italy adds: “After two-and-a-half years, my Spanish partner is used to early dinner times and now he likes the Italian way of life.”

Connect with family and friends

Learning your partner’s native language and sharing their culture won’t just bring you closer together; you’ll also be able to get to know their family and friends, who will likely be extremely supportive and appreciative of your efforts.

“I’m part of a warm, welcoming family that isn’t afraid to have a laugh and a joke when I mess up speaking Arabic,” says Johnathan, a Britishman whose wife’s family is Yemeni. “Everyone understands that I’m still a beginner!”

Learn from your own personal tutor

Nothing beats practising with a native speaker, including your boyfriend or girlfriend. They can be a valuable help when you’re working hard to learn their language – but you can also be a source of entertainment!

“My Spanish partner is trying to learn Italian by just talking with my family, and it’s really funny,” says Marta. “He creates words that don’t exist and we all just laugh together!”

Johnathan adds: “My wife would get me to repeat words. I now realise this was for her own amusement, because I would walk around repeating them without knowing they were offensive!”

Laugh at the differences

When you know your partner’s culture, it’s easier to understand different ways of communicating. As Briton Helen, married to an Argentinian, observes: “Spanish is very direct and can sound like giving orders, which causes me to be a bit put out sometimes.”

On other occasions, the misunderstandings can be entirely grammatical. “I always say ‘I am smart’ instead of saying ‘I am ready’, due to wrongly using the verb ‘to be’ in Spanish,” adds Oula. “You can imagine the rest!”

There are less obvious cultural differences too. “I have my own separate ‘special’ dish of less spicy food,” says Johnathan of visits to his wife’s Arabic family. Irma from Lithuania, whose partner is from Germany, comments: “Germans have a completely different sense of humour to me.”

Realise love is more than words

Being able to communicate via a shared language is essential for successful relationships. But you also realise that they are based on more than words alone and you only need a few phrases to establish a connection.

“It was a miracle we were able to start a relationship with such initial language barriers,” says Henri from Luxembourg, who’s married to Alejandra, a Mexican. “But we realised that it’s not always necessary to speak to understand each other.”

As Belgian Julie – who met her boyfriend from Columbia on busuu – adds: “Love is not a matter of country or language; love doesn’t have boundaries.”

Special 2-for-1 offer – one day only!

To help both you and your partner learn and improve in each other’s language, we have a special 24-hour promotion: buy a Premium membership for yourself and get another completely free!

Of course, it’s not only for couples; if you upgrade, you can give the second Premium membership to anyone you choose. But don’t forget: it’s available only on 14 February 2014. Find out more and upgrade to Premium now.

Are you in an intercultural relationship? Have you learnt your partner’s language, or are they learning yours? Tell us about your experiences in the comments! You can also take part in our Month of Love on Facebook and Google+.

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Santa in a helicopter – Part 1

A holiday roundup of funny and bizarre traditions from around the world from busuu, the largest online language learning community.

The British happily wear paper crowns to adorn themselves for the Christmas meal, the Spaniards hope to win millions in the Christmas lottery and, in Brazil, Santa Claus flies around in a helicopter. Busuu, the 35 million-strong online community for language learning has collected some quirky traditions from 12 countries whose languages are taught on our website: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. This will be presented to you in a two part blog post.  Check out our part 1 list below and see if some of these national customs surprise you.

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English

In the UK people like to wear Christmas Jumpers (which are sweaters) with holiday themes such as funny-faced reindeers or penguins with hats. Even the Christmas dinner in England is a bit like a carnival: Guests wear colourful paper hats and burst balloons at the dinner table. The British like to watch TV over the Christmas period, with the Queen’s annual Christmas speech particularly popular viewing. In Ireland, the children dress up on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, as The Wrenboys and go out on the town to collect candy and money.

Spanish

The Spaniards start Christmas with a giant lottery, the largest in the world, which is televised on December 22nd. Most Spaniards are glued to the TV in the morning, anxious to see if they have become millionaires. Lottery draws also take place on 24 December, the “Noche Buena”. After dinner with the family, small gifts, but also rivets, are drawn from an “Urn of Fate “. One of the main nativity figures in Catalonia is “el Caganer” the “pooper”, who handles his business on the nativity scene. In Mexico, the ‘Psadas’ processions where the story of Mary and Joseph is re-enacted, are celebrated with friends and family. For the children, lovingly decorated papier-mâché piñatas filled with fruits and sweets are hung on the ceilings, to be be smashed and broken by big sticks while blindfolded.

French

The height of French Christmas is – perhaps not too surprising – the Christmas Feast: La Reveillon with mussels, lobster, oysters, duck, vegetables, foie gras and all sorts of pies, as well as a spectacular dessert, “la Bûche de Noël”, a chocolate butter cream cake that comes in the shape of a tree trunk. The French Santa Claus is called Père Noël. He slips down the chimney and places gifts in the children’s polished shoes.

German

One of the most important holidays in Germany, Christmas is called Weihnachten. December 6th is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day. A shoe or boot is left outside the door on the 5th of December in the hope that the following morning you find presents, if you were good – or, unfortunately a rod if you have been bad. The Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgebäck, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations. The main day is the 24th, Christmas Eve when children will find presents under the tree.

Italian

In some parts of Italy the real Christmas day is celebrated on January 6th, The Three Kings Day. According to legend, the witch Befana has missed the star of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and is therefore searching for baby Jesus on the night of the 5th to the 6th of January. She flies on a broom from house to house, bringing gifts to good children and coal pieces to the naughty ones.

Portuguese

In Brazil, even Santa is an extrovert. Papa Noel lands a helicopter in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and distributes gifts. Celebrations are loud, funny and complete with fireworks. As most Brazilians are Catholic, the traditional midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a must-do. Presents have to wait until after the midnight mass. In Portugal, nativity cribs are often placed in the living room with the popular Christmas tree. These are also found in Portuguese churches, where surrounding landscapes are recreated in detail with real places, people and figures.

Continue to part 2

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is there a special or funny tradition in your region? Tell us about it on Facebook –  or @busuu on Twitter.