Viridiana is an Information Science and Technology major, and her minors are German and Spanish. She has been studying German for 4 years now, and she first started learning the language in high school. Viridiana is a senior, and she is currently preparing for her study abroad adventure in Germany!
We have asked Viridiana to share her experiences with learning German with us, and here is what she had to say:
How did you first become interested in foreign languages?
Taking a foreign language was always encouraged in school, so that was the first push to even consider one. In addition, Spanish is my first language, and I think being trilingual or learning more than one language is awesome.
What motivated you to learn German?
There was something about German that always appealed to me in middle school, and reading books containing bits and pieces of the language, as well as having a high interest in the history of the world wars, increased my attraction to the language and culture.
How has learning foreign languages, and German in particular, impacted your academic and/or personal life?
Learning a language in general has and will continue to expose me to diverse groups of people, new forms of communication, information, and lifestyles. For example, English was my first foreign language, and it of course influenced all aspects of my life such as academics, jobs, and personal relationships since it is the primary language spoken in the United States. As for German, I simply continued it in college out of pure personal interest and it wasn’t until my second semester at UWM that I began to learn ways to integrate it in my life, such as including it in my career. I am studying Information Science and Technology, a field in which Germany is a world leader, and I therefore chose the German minor. Also, I became aware of German influences in my own culture, for example on a Mexican music genre called Norteña. And although he was only recognized by European powers, Maximilian I of Mexico was an Austrian archduke acting as Emperor. There are also important Mexican figures with German descent such as Frida Kahlo, and there is a long history of German immigration to Mexico. In addition to learning more about these connections, the simple fact of studying German has helped me bond with individuals that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
What do you like about learning German?
The thing that I enjoy most about learning German is being exposed to so many other resources and information, especially since German is the language of many of the world’s most influential figures such as Karl Marx, Goethe and Kafka, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Albert Einstein, and Pope Benedict XVI, to name only a few. Also, even though many consider German to be a harsh language, I enjoy finding the beauty in it, for example in German expressions and words that I love, such as Schmetterling, Himmel, Herz, Blumen, Liebe, and countless others.
What has been a memorable experience in the UWM German Program for you?
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in the German Program is the end of the semester award ceremony. During that time, I was actually debating whether I should continue studying German in college. But being part of that experience really showed how supportive and enthusiastic the people in the German Program are about promoting the language and helping students, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed learning the language.
What role do you think German will play in your future?
I currently study in a field in technology, and I believe that German will greatly contribute to it somehow. After all, Germany is a place of technological advancements and an economic powerhouse!
What is your next step in learning German? What do you hope to achieve?
My next big step in learning German is going abroad to Germany and earning credit towards my German minor. I hope to achieve a better handle of the language especially verbally, as well as attain a good grasp on the German culture and heritage. Further in the future, I hope to attain a job in the IT field in which I can utilize my German language skills.
What advice would you give someone who is just beginning to learn German or a foreign language in general?
A piece of advice that I can give someone is that when a time comes where things get rough, just hang in there as the benefits of learning a language will always outweigh the difficulties. Also—reach out to the instructors and staff in the program—they are there for your benefit so approach them with any questions, concerns, or comments. Also, learn your vocabulary!! I personally have a hard time with this one, and I can tell you that things are difficult when I am not prepared.
Do you have any other comments or thoughts about your journey with German that you would like to share?
I would like to thank the German Program for its support to all of us students learning anything German on campus. You guys have been the most supportive and engaging people I have encountered at the university. I truly appreciate that.
More student profiles to be added soon.