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Five years ago, a student gave me a little brass plate on a stand with an etched view of Hong Kong harbour.I am no stranger to the odd bottle of wine or box of chocolates, but a little brass plate on a stand was unexpected kind of gift from a student.
I find the holidays a surprisingly good time to do this kind of work.In countries like Australia, where gift giving ‘rules’ are largely unspoken and context dependent, it can be difficult to know what advice to give.So I thought I would just tell you about the four types of responses I got and leave it up to you to decide what to do!I can whip through a whole draft in a couple of afternoons, sitting by the pool watching Thesis Whisperer Jnr swim, but find it stressful to do this kind of thing during the year, when I come home from work tired.Check first though – not every supervisor finds wielding the big red pen a fun way to spend their down time.Make sure you ask more than one as opinions may vary.
Finally: just because certain behaviour is considered ‘normal’ doesn’t mean you have to normal.My student told me that, in his culture, it was a sign of respect for your teacher if you give them a ‘permanent’ kind of present.It was his way of telling me I had made a difference and I was touched.If you are in doubt, maybe just write them a Christmas card. Are you studying in another country and therefore living in a different ‘gift culture’ than you are used to?What do you think is the appropriate gift giving etiquette for the supervisor student relationship?Unless, like me, your supervisor is not a big drinker.