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Ekaterina, M.A. in Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies, expected December 2024

My name is Ekaterina, I’m from Russia and I’ve been “haunted” by the German language all my life.

I studied at a gymnasium (high school) in Russia. There we had two foreign languages classes – English and a second language of your choice (French, Swedish, or German). This opportunity disappeared in the year of second language choices, so I and all my classmates had to study German as a second language.

At first, I was upset by the lack of free choice. However, as I started learning German, I quickly began to fall in love with it. German was difficult and unusual after English, but how captivating it was! I fell in love with the sound of German and its logical grammatical structures. It was a pleasant surprise to discover words borrowed from German in Russian. It also sometimes made learning German easier. And then I found a new dream – to learn German and go to Germany someday in order to investigate rich German culture! Even though I began to pay attention to music in German and poetry, it was still a difficult task. This task proved difficult due to the constant change of teachers in my school. As a result, by the end of school, I knew the language very poorly. I consoled myself with the fact that I didn’t yet see any opportunities where I could use my knowledge of German, so I continued to focus on learning English. Also at this time, I was interested in learning Japanese and Polish, but I never really studied them.

When I enrolled at the university for a bachelor's degree, I knew that in my second year I would have to choose a second language for study (the first language was again English, since I studied in Russia mainly in Russian). And here it is a surprise – history repeats itself! Again the choice was canceled! We had a choice between Italian and German, but in our year, everyone had to start learning German. I was terribly glad! I didn't have the time or money to attend language schools, and there was such a great opportunity to learn my favorite language again at university! Studying German at the university was short, but very productive. My level was still not high enough to continue my studies in Germany, but my knowledge and skills have improved a lot.

When I finished my bachelor's degree, I was again frustrated that I couldn’t apply to universities in Germany because of my knowledge of German. After my enrollment in the master’s degree program, I was very worried that in 2 years I would easily forget the language and I would need to look for courses or then start all German learning again. You cannot imagine my surprise when, in the first year of my master's studies, the university opened a double-degree and exchange program with Germany! A huge plus for me was that they didn’t require knowledge of German at the C1–C2 level, which I didn’t have. I immediately decided to take this opportunity to go to Germany for a semester and practice my language. I came to Göttingen to study the history of Eastern Europe. However, I had the time and opportunity to travel around Germany a bit, so I was also able to visit and live for a while in Bielefeld, Munich, and Frankfurt-am-Main. It was a unique and wonderful trip! I came to Germany fascinated by the German language and after the end of the semester, I left there completely in love with the German language and culture.

Now I have enrolled at UIC as a graduate student in the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies and I intend to continue studying German. I'm very excited about the language opportunities offered at UIC and I'm looking forward to combining my Russian and Eastern European studies with learning German language. A series of accidents in my life have constantly connected me with the German language. It's so amazing and at the same time terribly wonderful! Learning a foreign language can be a lot of fun and pleasure, so I'm already looking at other language options at UIC with great interest.