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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.

Some people were not sure they wanted to give their supervisor a gift because the relationship was strained.

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If you feel this way you might consider a homemade, edible present which demonstrates you have taken time and care to make something special.

Christmas is a great time to make edible gifts as there are so many ‘themed’ choices in the tasty treat department.

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.

Nothing I’ll admit I was surprised when some people questioned the idea of buying a present at all.

Some explained that in their culture it was not the done thing to give a gift to a teacher (make note all you students in Sweden).It was pointed out that gift giving creates a sense of obligation and reciprocity, which can be awkward for a supervisor – especially if they have many students. Many people do not celebrate Christmas all because of their atheist stance, others routinely have their own religious holidays ignored by Australia’s Christian slant.I’m not sure how you negotiate this social minefield, but perhaps, if you are unsure what is considered normal behaviour, ask the students who have been there longer than you.As I highlighted in my story, experiencing the gift giving norms of another culture can be delightful.Wine / chocolates If you do decide to give a gift, in Australia wine is considered a safe, socially neutral choice.When I asked on Twitter what people were buying their Ph D supervisor I was surprised by the range of different responses.

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