I started studying German my freshman year of high school. I had initially taken the language in order to fulfill a language requirement that I needed in order to graduate. As time went on, my interest in German increased, and I ultimately had German classes all four years of high school. From there I determined that I wanted to continue studying German with the possibility of exploring new languages.
UIC has granted me that opportunity: as a Germanic Studies major, I have been able to explore my interest in German both inside and outside of class. Each winter in Chicago, I visit the Christkindlmarket, and while many of the vendors there speak English, the majority are native German speakers. Being able to communicate with those in the market in their native language made the experience more wholesome and gave me greater insight into the Christmas traditions practiced in German speaking countries. It also gave me a large insight into how certain dialects of German are spoken and how to handle myself when I don't understand the dialect being spoken! Studying German has also connected me to my family's past as several recipes and documents from my family are written in German. Additionally, being able to speak a foreign language has allowed me to communicate and connect better with others in my work place which has benefitted myself and co-workers.
This past semester, I decided I wanted to try to study a romance language again. I had only taken a year of French in high school before graduating and I wanted to see if I could take another language while at UIC. This past semester I took Italian, and while studying two foreign languages at once is difficult sometimes, I ultimately enjoyed my experience. Learning about the Italian culture and language was fulfilling. Furthermore, the encouragement I received from both the German and Italian department was almost overwhelming as all my instructors were willing to help me through my struggles and guide me through the learning process.
Ultimately, I know my journey with language will not end at UIC, and I hope incoming students will take interest in a foreign language and study one themselves. Exploring a language is more than just grammar and rules: it consists of experiences such as holidays, foods and music. For those reasons, I hope they participate and decide to study something new.