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What is a good way to strike up a conversation with the Japanese postdoc in my lab? I am a graduate student and she is a postdoc. Should I call her Miki-san, sempai, or sensei, as she has her PhD, even though she's not my boss?
Feb 7, 2014 5:41 AM
Answers · 7
You want to build a good relationship with her. That’s why you cared and asked here. It’s sweet. I think you’re in the US. Then, in my opinion, treat her in the same way as you do to other people. When you want to pay her respects, pay respects in the same way as you usually do. I assume that you want to show your affinity to her and Japan, and calling her Senpai may be one of the ways. But maybe, she takes it as a sort of bias, because being an outsider is not fun thing in general. I hope you will get along with her very well.
February 7, 2014
Assuming you're speaking Japanese to her, "surnameさん" if the normal way. If you need her expertise to help you solve a problem or something, you can address her as "surname先輩" or "surname先生" to catch her attention and flatter her into helping you. That's how we did in my lab, at least :)
February 7, 2014
I'd vote for Miki-san. Sempai sounds too adolescent as a way of addressing somebody and sensei is a bit too much until she attains the status of 助教(jokyo), 助手(joshu) or some such. Sales representatives (say, from pharmaceutical companies if you are majoring in a biology related field) that frequent your lab will call her (and even you) sensei but that's just a business formality and there's no reason a graduate student should do the same. Well, at least that’s how things worked around me while I was working on my degrees in Tokyo.
February 7, 2014
Language Skills
English, Japanese, Korean
Learning Language
Japanese, Korean