As undergraduate students at the University of Massachusetts Boston, we are required to take a language class. I have a love of Germany, perhaps because I lived there for five years as a young child. Many of my early memories were formed in Germany: from the birth of my brother, to visiting castles, to playing with the kid next door who only spoke German, to the proximity and ability to travel through Europe. I was fascinated by the Eurorail. I’ll never forget traveling to Ireland and watching my dad kiss the Blarney Stone or walking the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome. One of my best friends is from Großalmerode, a small village twenty minutes from Kassel, where I attended university in Summer 2018.
I chose to study German because it felt right. I could learn to have conversations with my childhood friend. I loved it so much that I found myself enrolling in a German history class. My German language professor noticed my interest. She told me about the new German Studies Minor program offered at UMass Boston. Little did I realize that I would be heading down a road to a more concrete idea of what I wanted to do when I graduate. I love the German Studies Minor and want to share my love with anyone who will listen. There are endless reasons to choose a German Studies Minor.
German is not as difficult a language to learn as some may think. Do not get me wrong, it’s no walk in the park either, but what language is? It is gratifying to learn another language and broaden one’s vocal horizons. According to Kathaerina Loew, UMass Boston German Studies Director, German is “one of the 10 most-spoken languages in the world.” Learning a new language opens doors otherwise closed. Germany is not the only country in Europe where German is spoken, creating many new opportunities for places to work and live. German is the official language of six countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland. It is a recognized minority language in 13 countries such as Brazil, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, and Italy.
There is a lot of opportunity to travel and work just by learning German as a second language. There are large companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland looking for potential employees who can speak German as well as English. There is also the added dimension of the arts I may not have known about had I not chosen German Studies as my minor. The Brothers Grimm were from Kassel. What a treat it will be when my own German improves to read works by Goethe in his native language or watch German movies.
Learning German will not only broaden your horizon and open up many job opportunities in the United States and abroad, but it also allows you to move onto graduate school in a German-speaking country. Most universities offer free tuition to students who are proficient in the language. I personally like the idea of a higher education that will not empty my pocketbook as well as put me in a country where I can network for possible jobs in my field of study. I love the idea of full immersion as I learn. Germany itself is centrally located in Europe, which makes for easy travel. The cost of living on average is 800-900 U.S. dollars a month.
The best part of a German Studies Minor is getting to know other students with the same interest and getting to talk with the German exchange students in their native language. This helps them to feel more at home. I have gotten to know other German students and take some very interesting classes. When going to “Kaffeeklatsch,” a German coffee hour held on Thursdays from 3:30–5:30 p.m. in the McCormack Building Room 04-214, I get to meet and interact with other students who are interested in the German language. I don’t have to know German to join the German Club or participate in “Kaffeeklatsch.” There are also many opportunities to study abroad and get to know Germany for yourself! There are many scholarships available that can help you study or intern in Germany.
Most study-abroad programs offer excursions to experience other parts of the country. The university I studied at took us to Berlin, a bustling city of growth, easy transportation, diversity, and history. Four days was not enough time. We visited the Chancellery, the German Historic Museum, Clärchens Ballroom, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall. The feeling of walking through such historic streets is awe-inspiring. The graffiti throughout the city is beautiful in its own right just as the television tower built after World War II. I fell in love with Berlin while I was there.
A minor in German can be profitably combined with any major. As an English major, I find the addition of a second language helps in my English studies. It has helped reading Middle English and getting a better grasp on our own English language rules. I would like to work in Germany after I graduate, and possibly move on to graduate school. The German Studies Minor is an exciting way to expand knowledge, horizons, and become immersed in a culture that is different than what I am used to. There is something about Germany that pulls at my heartstrings. It is such a beautiful country!
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