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"The Dutch are more informal"

"The Dutch are more informal"

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

Wat vind jij typisch Nederlands?

“Consensus zoeken”, says Frederike Kaltheuner in Dutch. She is 22, a second-year student at the University College and a member of the University Council for student party NovUM. “In the beginning I was surprised; it seemed all quite harmonious between the council and the board. It took some time for me to understand that there were disagreements and conflicts, but that they are discussed in a subtle way. I think it’s constructive. In Germany we seek confrontation more.

“The Dutch are also more informal. I can write an email to my professor using her first name. In Germany I would have to write Mr, Dr, Professor, etc.”

Why did you become a member of the University Council?

“Maybe it’s because I’m German. I think it’s important to have critical citizens in society. People are often worried about all sorts of global problems – which are indeed important – but they forget that you can act on a local level as well.”

What kind of problems does UM have, in your opinion?

“Integration. I came here with the expectation of being in a really international university. There are indeed students from all over the world, but to be international you also need interaction between student groups of different nationalities and faculties. If you all stay on your own side of the Maas, you only see half of UM.”

What have you done about it?

“NovUM has set up a task force. They’ve done research; their report was discussed in the April meeting of the University Council.”

Your favourite spot in Maastricht?

“I like Take Five, I like jazz. There’s a lot of live jazz in Maastricht. And I like to read books in Take Five.”

What do you read?

“I study philosophy and economics; I’m mostly reading academic books.”

Do you know any famous Dutch writers?

“Not off the top of my head, but give me a name and maybe I’ll know it.”

Harry Mulisch?


Leon de Winter?

“Yes, I read a book by him.”

Anne Frank?

“Yes, of course.”

Where do you come from?

“Close to Cologne. I wanted to study further away, because I like big cities. That’s why I’m going to Istanbul next semester. I’ve lived in Hamburg and Berlin before. I like the theatre, museums. Last week I visited Berlin; I saw Bertolt Brecht and I felt sad. I was lost in translation. I was missing words in German. I speak English most of the time – I even dream in English. I speak Dutch, Spanish and French at a reasonable level, I’m going to learn Turkish in Istanbul, but the only two languages that I can speak perfectly are German and English.”

Any last remarks?

“The integration process is part of the learning experience here in Maastricht. We Germans really appreciate studying at UM. The university has beautiful buildings, is well equipped and is international.”


Riki Janssen



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