Speaking German with a Dutch accent

12-11-2009

He loves pindakaas on his bread, his favourite supermarket is the “Appie”, and he often watches De Wereld Draait Door on Dutch television. But the anchor, Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, isn’t his cup of tea. “He’s a bit irritating; I think he’s too fond of himself.” Stefan Flörkemeier – 24 years old, born and raised in Herford, not far from Bielefeld, and a bachelor’s student in Health Sciences – is different from most German Grüβe students Observant has spoken with.

Spreek je nog vaak Duits?

“No, most of the time I speak Dutch; in my tutorial group, at home in my student house where I live with four Dutch students, at my rowing club Saurus, with my friends – most of them are Dutch – and with my Dutch girlfriend.” He has the accent of people who come from the east of the Netherlands: Drenthe or the Achterhoek. “Once a girl didn’t believe I was German – I had to show her my ID card.” Sometimes even his mother has doubts about her son’s nationality. “It always takes two days to get rid of my Dutch accent when I’m in Germany. My mother always has to laugh when I order cheese in the supermarket. It sounds Dutch, she says. When I talk fast, I mix up the Dutch ‘als’ and the German ‘wenn’. And I often say ‘of zo’ instead of ‘oder so’.”

Five years ago, during the Inkom, Flörkemeier joined Saurus and became a competitive rower.

Any problems with the hazing of first-year students?

“It’s part of student life. It’s not as bad as everybody thinks. They didn’t throw puke over me, I didn’t have to eat dirty things or walk around half naked. We were very active for three or four days, we rowed a lot, and I was very tired when it was over. But it was and still is fun to laugh about it with your fellow students.”

The president of Saurus, also a German student, said some weeks ago in Observant that she would like to put a stop to hazing. Without it, she suggested, Saurus would attract many more international students (most of whom don’t like it). It caused a lot of discussion inside the club.

“I think it’s part of student life. But it’s true: you will reach a bigger audience. I’m not against a ban. Whenever someone has a very good plan …”

Would you ever change your nationality?

“No, why should I?” Then laughing: “I may be almost Dutch but when we’re talking about football and driving, I’m German as can be. Germans drive better and play better soccer. And when Claudia Pechstein and Annie Friesinger have to skate, I’m on their side. Now that the world championship football is coming up, we’ve already made a bet: I’m for Germany, my friends are for Holland.”

What should the Maastricht University board do to bridge the gap between Dutch and German students?

“Offer cheap language courses. If everybody spoke Dutch they would talk to one another.”

 

 

Riki Janssen

Speaking German with a Dutch accent
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Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

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