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"Many Germans do not take part in Inkom”

New Series: International Classroom at UM

“At the School of Business and Economics’ open day, the international environment was strongly promoted. You will be in a classroom with people from all corners of the world, we were told. Also that half the students would be from Germany. That is not completely true because in reality almost everyone is German at International Business. At least 70 per cent.”

These facts are reported by second-year student Sophie van Gangelen (20). “The guideline at IB is that there should be a least one non-German student in every tutorial group. It is a pity that the atmosphere is not more international, because you can learn a lot from other cultures, certainly in my study. In Asia for example, employees have a closer relationship with their company. It would be nice if an Asian student could illustrate that first-hand.”

The Germans and the Dutch live largely parallel lives, says Van Gangelen. Maybe it would be an idea to make speaking English during breaks compulsory. “As soon as the tutorial group is finished, everyone switches to their own language and the contact is gone. I would like to talk to the Germans about their weekends, going out, holidays. I refuse to speak German. I expect guests to take some kind of trouble to learn Dutch. I would learn the local language if I was in France or Spain.”

Does she herself seek contact with the foreign students? “It does happen sometimes with people who are in the same working group. I made arrangements a few times with a Bulgarian student to meet in the city. She wanted to learn about Dutch culture. The point is, when such contact comes about, it is such good fun, but in some way or other it just does not happen.”

The faculty would do well to involve the Germans more in Inkom, says Van Gangelen. “Many Germans do not take part. I don’t know why, maybe not all students are familiar with it. No matter what, it is a bad start.”

Germans are nice, says Van Gangelen, but she is at times irritated by their pushy behaviour. “They appear to have learned all definitions and theories by heart. I sometimes have to look something up in the tutorial group, but then you have missed your chance. They cut the ground from under your feet and want to show how well prepared they are. Participation counts for the final grade. Anyway, I don’t mind pushiness all that much. I am a little like that myself.”


Maurice Timmermans



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