Last Two Episodes:

Episode 12 – Laughing Matters

Jörg’s penchant for taking life seriously and literally is challenged when he is faced with the dizzyingly flippant world of Kiwi “banter”. Duncan, on the other hand, must learn to not make a joke out of absolutely everything and instead to converse about useful things, like the benefits of white asparagus.

Episode 13 – Die Brücke

The series finale take an unexpected dramatic turn when a slip of the tongue leads some German druids to send a downpour in the New Zealand bush where a piece of wire won’t suffice. Okay, you need to just watch this one!

Episode 11: Germlish

In episode 11, a comedy of errors ending in an unintended declaration of love for Professor Tracy’s elderly mother leads Jörg to discover that many of the English terms he’s been using are actually imposters, fake English words “invented by Germans for other unsuspecting Germans”. Once again, Duncan comes to the rescue and lifts the lid on the three most dangerous examples of “Germlish”.

 Episode 10: Group Effort

Having mastered how to sing a “vaiata” (German for waiata, a Maori song) and hongi with elders on a university marae visit, the ever-diligent Jörg must now learn the more subtle tikanga of his new home down under. In episode 10, Duncan will try to explain the hilariously mystifying lengths you need to go to in New Zealand if “you happen to achieve something marvellous.” Keep your eyes peeled for a real, live celebrity cameo...

Episode 9: She'll Be Right 

In episode 9, Jörg learns the hard and hot way that there are some “key personality differences” between New Zealand and their “larger than life” neighbours across the Tasman Sea. Wearing only with his “under-trousers” and armed with the hopeful new mantra of “she’ll be right”, our German hero is nearly overcome by jellyfish, large waves, Aussie hospitality and a mysterious tattooed beach-babe named Tenille. 

Advent Calendar Time!!

Steffen and William have a shiny stack of advent calendars for 2016. Help support the making of more Lifeswap videos by clicking on the link and ordering one or two or fifteen! Limited supply. Only $8. Don't miss out! Merry Christmas!

Episode 8: Sonntag

This episode is most likely to appeal to the neighbours of Kiwis living in Germany who are as yet unaware of the fact that Sundays and loud gardening equipment don't mix. Jörg is back home for a visit and takes the opportunity to teach Duncan about the 3.5 acceptable Sunday ativities. Warning: some partial nudity is of course to be expected.

Episode 7: Making a Funny Party

Lifeswap 7 – Making a Funny Party from Steffen Kreft on Vimeo.

So, you think you've really made it as an outsider in New Zealand. Everyone's smiling broadly at you and now you've been invited over to someone's house. Or have you? Episode 7 explores the subtlety of a Kiwi dinner invitation and what to expect if you actually ever make it.

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.

Lifeswap gets high tech….Meet Wacom

This impressive piece of equipment is called a wacom tablet. It is Steffen's new baby. (Actually, it belongs to a good friend of his who has had a real baby, so it's kind of a temporary foster dad situation.)

Anyway, it allows him to draw directly onto the screen with a special pen (that's not a biro) to create more nuanced images.

Steffen and Wacom have a close bond. Steffen says using the tablet feels just like drawing on paper, and I have noticed that the characters who have emerged since he's been using it, like Hannes' Hausschuh wearing punk brother (pictured) have a special presence and sense of personality. Episode three will be quite something, I think...

A Kiwi basks in centrally heated Berlin

Here it is. The secret at the centre
of German civilization (at least from November till April)...

The double window and the permanently-on-radiator.

And in the room behind the camera, Steffen and I are sitting in T-shirts (not out of antipodean bravado, but because it is actually warm) working on episode three in which……

Joerg must wear all of his insulated, wind-resistant extreme outdoor clothing in his bedroom because he has learnt that the New Zealand answer to draughty, uninsulated houses is "Then put on another jersey!" And Duncan is on the verge of a German rite of passage: he is about to buy his first pair of "Hausschuhe"; so much more than a pair of slippers, this felt-based footwear, along with double-glazing and central heating, completes a kind of holy trinity accepted by all Germans. Hausschuhe protect against the myriad of mysterious illnesses that Germans seem to believe are lurking at floor-level, waiting to assail bare or merely socked feet. More updates soon….

Episode Two!!!

Why is it that in New Zealand, a land with a proud tradition of agriculture and DIY, you can't always just call a spade a spade? Poor Jörg doesn't know what's hit him when Duncan explains five rules of survival - not how to survive in the bush, but how to beat around it. Click on the link below and enjoy...

Lifeswap Episode 2 – The Tea Towel Stinks from Steffen Kreft on Vimeo.

Final, tiny, vital things

So, days away from releasing episode two (early next week - watch this space), the lovely ladies at the Goethe-Institut, while carrying out a routine check on our work, picked up on a detail that only experts with an eye for cultural nuances would be capable of...

Steffen had almost outed Duncan as the animated product of German hands by drawing him indicating the number three by holding up a thumb and two fingers. New Zealanders, for reasons too bizarre to be able to trace, would never do this, instead opting for the more contortionist middle three finger method. Anyone who has watched Inglorious Bastards would know that such seemingly insignificant details are capable of bringing whole spy networks crashing to the ground...

Meet Ange.

This is Ange. On the screen. The other one is Steffen.

Ange is the newest character of Lifeswap, Duncan's flatmate and a top Sheila. She is a composite creature, made up of the voice of one of our friends, the mouth and eyes of another, and the personality of a kind of quintessential, good natured, Kiwi twenty-something girl we have all known.

As she receives eyes that blink and a mouth capable of grimacing at awkward domestic encounters with her new German flatmate, something of the mad glint of Doctor Frankenstein enters the eyes of her creator...

A lip-syncing angel in a fake leather jacket

This is Danya. She's a designer and aspiring animator from Wellington.

On a round the world tour, she has generously planned in a couple of weeks of assisting as a mouth animator for the second episode.

This is laborious and exacting work and all she asks in return is a spot of lunch and coffees of varying sizes (see image on left).