5.3 Communication

The campus is a place where people usually talk in a very casual and informal tone. It is common for students to call each other by their first names and say "Du". With professors, it is important to keep a somewhat formal tone.

You will certainly find this out quickly, and you will surely be forgiven for mistakes. We like to help you to get started by some examples.

"Du" or "Sie"?[]

In Germany, it is common to address people at their workplace by their last name and "Sie". If you address university employees directly or by email using their first name and "Du", this can easily be regarded as offensive. However, students often just say " Du" to each other.

Consultations and other appointments with academic staff and professors[]

When you visit university members in their office:

  1. First, knock on the door and
  2. wait until you are invited in. People usually say "Ja", "Bitte" or "Herein".
  3. Once you are inside, stop at the front of the room and state your request.

Do not feel offended if TH employees or other people refuse your requests or wishes. Unlike in other cultures, people in Germany are very direct. If a request or inquiry is answered with a "no", the person does not want to test whether you are really interested and see if you come again to express your wish. A "no" means that your request cannot be fulfilled, or not in this way, or by this person.

Then ask directly what you can do instead. The employees of the TH Lübeck are always ready to help you with your problem.

How to write an email to professors?[]

Start your email with:

"Sehr geehrter Herr Professor [last name]"

or, if it is a female professor, with

"Sehr geehrte Frau Professorin [last name]".


"Sehr geehrte/r" is very formal, but that way you are always on the safe side. If the professor replies with "Hallo", you may also start your reply email with "Hallo".

End the email with:

"Mit freundlichen Grüßen
[first name] [last name]"


"Mit besten Grüßen
[first name] [last name]."


If possible, use your official TH Lübeck email address for communication with university members.