Understanding Train Station (Podcast)
I already introduced you to Feli, the German Girl in America, in my Flyctory.com posting about her YouTube channel. I already quickly introduced you to her friend Josh and remarked that he became something like a follower favorite. Not too surprisingly – Josh is a US American, who invested quite a lot to learn German – with an incredible result: Josh is not only fluent in my native language – he is also speaking without any accent. I even have to give in that his Bavarian dialect and Swiss German is better than mine.
Since October 2020, Feli and Josh are joining social media forces – and started to release their podcast Understanding Train Station. After they released ten full episodes now, I just felt to share this amazing project with you.
What does Understanding Train Station mean?
German native speakers might smile about this question – but for English mother tongues, this might not be too straight-forward. Understanding Train Station is the literal translation of the German phrase (nur) Bahnhof verstehen – which means that you are confused and do not understand a word. The closest translation to English, which Josh is suggesting in the podcast is It sounds Greek to me. Ευχαριστώ! (Thank you)
What is the mission of the podcast?
In their podcast description, Feli and Josh state that they are going to explore the intricacies and pitfalls of living between cultures. They are sharing their own personal experiences, but also inviting other participants to the podcast. So far, they had a friend with German background, one Indian-origin girl and a YouTuber with a German-US-American double citizenship. There is a focus of differences between US and Germany, but this is not exclusive.
Who are Feli and Josh – and what is the difference to “GGIA”?
The podcast is driven by Felicia and Josh. Felicia – or “Feli” is driving the YouTube Channel German Girl in America. Measured by subscribers, her channel has been growing tenfold in the last 12 months roughly – when I joined her followers, she was roughly in the 20k’s – now, Feli is heading for the quarter million. Feli, who is from Munich, Germany, but is now living in Cincinati, is doing very well researched, detailed videos about German – American differences, as I introduced to you in my posting about her.
While her well-researched and well-presented YouTube videos (she is having media background) turned her into some sort of intercultural daughter-in-law of your dreams, Josh is the male counterpart of her at Understanding Train Station. Josh is a Midwest American, who got fascinated by the German language and German culture during his school years. He did an incredible job speaking the language accentlessly, also supported by some stays in Germany and working for a German franchise. Currently, he is back in Greater Munich, working at the main office of the company.
Feli introduced her friend Josh in a few of her German Girl in America videos. The audience loved Josh, which even boosted the idea among them to collaborate in a common project. Thereby, Understanding Train Station is more dialectic. This does not necessarily mean, Josh is “more American” and Feli is “more German” in her point of view. Not too rarely, the positions are even vice versa, which makes it very entertaining to listen to them. The podcast is general in English (like Feli’s channel), but they do some German sections. By the way: when Feli and Josh chat with each other in private life, they majorly use the German language.
UTS – What are the episodes so far?
I give you the Spotify widgets of the individual episodes so far (as of 6th December 2021) below. The Connecting with Understanding Train Station section thereafter will also give you some other channels.
1. Introduction and First Culture Shocks
Any podcast needs to start with an introduction episode. You learn about Feli’s and Josh’s background and story – but also their first culture shocks – starting with very basic things that you sometimes just get the words, but sometimes the usage and phrases makes you get lost. Finally, they also get to talk about the size of American onions – don’t want to spoil too much (published on 22nd Oct 2020).
2. Adulting 2.0 – Life Outside of the Classroom
Fueling your car, paying with cash or credit, bank transfers and many more topics – getting into the real life in another country can be quite a learning process. Things are just done differently over there (whereever here and there is… Of course…). One of the episodes which made me smile most – just because I ran into a bunch of them during my travels as well (published on 29th Oct 2020).
3. Homes and Household Habits (and what’s up with those German guest slippers?)
I feel that Josh and Feli even did not touch all of the topics I had in mind, but if you want to dive into their views and thoughts how different living in the two countries are just in regard of your home, you need to spend some time. The original episode has already been about 90 minutes – but they released a “bonus” a few days later to at least make it a bit more complete. A lot of interesting stuff (published on 5th Nov 2020 / 9th Nov 2020)
4. Work-Life & Office Culture feat. Niklas
This was the first episode in which Feli and Josh were joined by another person. Niklas, a friend of theirs living in Cincinnati as well, is in his mid-twens, but has been assigned by his German company to become CEO of their US branch in Ohio. Quite an interesting story as such. But Niklas adds so much more interesting facts about work life. What are you allowed to ask in a job interview? How important is golf as an American businessman? This one has truly been one of my favorite episodes of the podcast so far (published on 12th Nov 2020).
5. Our Language Learning Stories
Back to Josh and Feli as “double trouble”. This episode deals with how their language skills grew, but also gives a lot of their history to understand where they are today. Finally, Josh has to give in that he sounds like a Streber in this episode. I just loved that, because he knew the German word, but they needed quite a while to find the English equivalent (published on 19th Nov 2020)
6. Thanksgiving – American Traditions, History, and German Equivalent?
I really loved that episode of the podcast – not because it is the shortest published so far (“just” 56 minutes), but also as it was the first time I really understood what is special about Thanksgiving in the US. The message about the German equivalent is rather short, as there is a (Christian) equivalent day, but it has by far not the meaning Thanksgiving has in America (published on 26th Nov 2020).
7. From India to the USA – Experiences of an International Student feat. Sheffie
My love to India and Indian tennis is likely well-known – thus it is not surprising that I loved to listening to Josh, Feli and her Indian-origin friend Sheffi. I hope that there are a lot more episodes like that. I felt it is so interesting to add a “third” viewpoint to the German-U.S. perspective of the podcast. And of course it told me again how diverse India is as well – some of topics might have been dealt with very differently if I asked my Indian friends the same thing. Really cool. India Waale! (published on 3rd Dec 2020).
8. Christmas Traditions in the US vs. Germany
Is St. Niklaus and Santa Clause the same person? And what is the Christkind? This time of the year just could not be without a holiday podcast. There are quite a lot of differences in how the holidays are celebrated. Great overview of the Christmas topic (published 10th Dec 2020)
9. Growing up between US and Germany feat. Jay Samuelz
One of the most interesting episodes so far in my point of view. Jay Samuelz is a YouTuber and musician based in Berlin. He is half American and half German and grew up in both countries. What is school like in the US compared to Germany? This episode even touches American exceptionalism. Interesting listen! (published 17th Dec 2020)
10. Have a Good Slide – New Year’s Eve in the U.S. and Germany
The latest episode of the podcast deals with the different importance and different way of celebrating New Year’s Eve / New Year – including that Happy New Year is somehow different from Frohes Neues (Jahr) in German. (published 31st Dec 2020)
11. That’s not the yellow from the egg
Some sort of quiz time! In this episode, Feli and Josh talk about colloquials. You might learn what German mean when they ask to let the church in the village or say that hop and malt is lost. German speakers might be amazed when Americans talk about beating a dad horse. Or are your pets in danger when there’s more than one way to skin a cat? Loved to listen to that one – you by the way also learn that Josh knows Mickie Krause’s party schlager Schatzi schenk mir ein Foto (published 7th Jan 2021).
Connecting with Understanding Train Station
Apart from Spotify, you can find the podcast on several different (all major) podcast platforms. You can have an overview of that on their anchor.fm website.
If you rather want to watch Josh and Feli while listening, you may refer to the Understanding Train Station YouTube channel. However, Feli will be back in the US soon with Josh being in Germany, so that the videos will be turning into videoconference recordings soon. Below their YouTube videos, you also find links how to actively (i.e. financlally) support the podcast on Patreon and BuyMeACoffee.com.
Understanding Train Station – My View
Especially due to the interaction of Feli and Josh, Undestanding Train Station feels much stronger to me that GGIA (German Girl in America). Sometimes, Josh is just more German as Feli and – vice versa – Feli feels to be quite americanized. These two different viewpoints lead to a very interesting change in perspective. The guests invited so far have been really entertaining and elaborate and thus lead to quite a lot of value added. The episodes are a bit on the long side (I am not too much a fan of the pause button while listening to a podcast), but they are quite diverting and thus sometimes even feel a bit too short than too long. Hope the re-location of Josh will not lead to an impact to this interesting project.
Social Media Contents on Flyctory.com
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Flyctory.com in Munich
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Title picture: taken from Understanding Train Station Instagram