Typical Dutch

On first-name terms with teachers

I have been in the Netherlands for over a year now and I can confidently say that I am now used to the Dutch culture, even though I miss my family and my favourite Ghanaian delicacy. However, there is one thing I am still not used to: the way lecturers are addressed by their students.

I was astonished the first time I heard a student addressing a lecturer by his first name only. The title of Professor or Doctor is hardly mentioned. Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that this is more or less the norm at Wageningen University. It is perfectly normal here to address lecturers or tutors by their first name without adding their title.

In Ghana, addressing a lecturer without his or her title denotes a disrespectful attitude

This is completely different in my home country. In Ghana, addressing a lecturer without his or her title denotes a disrespectful attitude. A friend from the Czech Republic told me that it is the same there.

One thing I have noticed is that lecturers at Wageningen University are down to earth. They are approachable and straightforward, which makes it easy to build a healthy student-teacher relationship. Though I still find it difficult to address a professor by his or her first name, I am trying my best to get used to it. After all, there is a proverb that says: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’

Claudia Ayim, MSc student of Management, Economics and Consumer Studies, from Ghana

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NL: Professor Saskia

Nederlanders doen niet aan titels, ontdekteClaudia Ayim. Studenten noemen hun docent of hoogleraar ‘Henk’ of ‘Saskia’, niet professor doctor Huppeldepup. De Ghanese kan er maar moeilijk aan wennen. ‘In mijn land is het disrespectvol om een docent aan te spreken zonder zijn of haar titels te noemen.’ Maar een pluspunt van dat jijen en jouen ziet Claudia ook: ‘Docenten zijn hier heel benaderbaar en rechtdoorzee, wat het makkelijker maakt om een gezonde student-docentrelatie op te bouwen.’

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