Matching/speed-dating M&M

On June 23 highschool students from all over the Netherlands came to the university of Groningen for the annual ‘matching’ day. Matching is a kind of ‘speed-dating’. Some twelve students who showed interest in the M&M programme and the staff of the department together had half a day to find out whether they are going to match for the rest of the study.

‘Matching day’ has been introduced by the Dutch government in 2013. The Minister of Education thought that it would be good to let students reflect on their choice of study and to give them one extra opportunity for asking whatever serious (and less serious) questions they might still have regarding the study programme of their choice.

It was an exciting day on which the staff met the (Dutch) students who seriously consider studying M&M. There were some familiar faces among them, from the open days and the ‘meeloop’-days, but most of them were new.

To give students an impression of what they can expect from the programme once they have definitively enrolled, the staff had thought out a little research project. First students followed a short lecture on sociolinguistics by Nanna Hilton to prepare them for research activity outside in the city centre of Groningen!

As a university city Groningen knows a really international language climate. Besides English (spoken by large parts of the academic community) and Dutch, one is about to hear a lot of German, especially on market days and in the holidays. And then there is of course the regional dialect of Dutch: Gronings, the topic of the matching day.

Accompanied by some older students, the newbies were sent out to do some field work. They teamed up and visited local shops to ask shopkeepers which languages they spoke, and also what their thoughts were on ‘Gronings’. Back in the university room, the groups created posters with the answers, and also with some nice quotes collected from the various shopkeepers. Impressed by the different attitudes towards Gronings which they the students had encountered, the results sparked a fierce discussion on the position of this local dialect, and other languages in the city centre. Is Gronings ‘fantastic’ and ‘wonderful’ as some people held, or is it ‘ugly’ and ‘boorish’? And ‘is it a language or a dialect?’ Would you agree that Gronings isn’t a language because it isn’t a country’?

Matching day could not be finished without a nice lunch at Restaurant ‘de Globe’ and with some real ‘matching’ conversations! We are looking forward to next year’s students