Ask Away: 5 Questions for a Student of German at Arizona State University
We’re asking students, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…
Meet Monica—an Arizona State University student focused on Political Science, Southeast Asian Studies, and the German language.
1. What motivated you to apply for your first study abroad program?
My first study abroad program was the U.S. Department of State’s Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program in high school. I had always wanted to travel, and I enjoyed learning languages. Once, during Spanish period in high school, we were given a presentation from visiting exchange students in the area and from representatives from the study abroad organization AFS, and that’s when I first learned about the different high school programs like CBYX, YES Abroad, and NSLI-Y and was first inspired to study abroad.
2. What is your most memorable experience from that exchange?
The most memorable and best part of my first exchange program was the bond that I developed with my German host family.
They were the ones who introduced me to their culture and community and helped facilitate my language learning. Over the course of the year we became very close, and I still visit them whenever I’m in Germany. In fact, we also met up in the Philippines while I was there on my second study abroad program, because one of my host sisters was also staying in the Philippines at the same time, and my other host sister was staying “nearby” in China. They’ve met members of my own family from the U.S. and the Philippines, and I still consider them my German “family.”
3. What do you enjoy most about the process of learning another language?
I enjoy the feeling of finally understanding a certain concept, and the feeling of being able to introduce myself to someone in their language and having them understand me, even if I do include some mistakes.
Languages feel like a puzzle or a code, and once you get it right you get the reward of being able to communicate with someone who may come from a background entirely different from your own.
4. Why did you choose to continue your language learning through college?
I’ve chosen to continue language learning through college because I recognized the value of being able to communicate in different languages in academic and professional settings as well as in everyday life. With German, for example, I was able to use it during my internship with the U.S. Dept. of State at the General Consulate in Frankfurt, but it’s also come in handy when I talk to friends and family in Germany.
I hope to keep studying Filipino and reach the point where I’m proficient enough to do the same, where it will help supplement my studies of Southeast Asia, but also just help me converse with my family at home and in the Philippines using their language.
5. You’ve also participated in multiple study abroad programs in college. How did each of your experiences abroad offer a unique perspective to your studies and career goals?
Aside from CBYX in high school, in college, I interned abroad in Frankfurt, Germany with the U.S. State Department, and for one academic year in the Philippines, I studied abroad at Ateneo de Manila University through the Boren Scholarship.
CBYX was my first time truly living abroad and being immersed in another culture, and each program after that has been a sort of expansion of that first experience.
The Frankfurt internship was my return to Germany, so it was familiar, but it was also my immersion into a professional setting that was new to me, where I clocked in for the day, worked in an office, attended events, and saw the work of U.S. Foreign Service Officers firsthand. In both Germany programs, I was focused on my future goals and career development.
As for the Philippines, I felt like I was exploring the opposite direction. Rather than focusing on my future career goals, I was getting to know my family’s past. My exchange year was spent learning about the country my parents came from; I met with different family members, traveled around to different regions, and took classes on Philippine art, politics, and history.
My experiences abroad were all different in their settings: I was at a high school, an office and a university, and I had a homestay for CBYX while for the other programs, I lived in an apartment on my own. However, they were all similar in that they helped me form a global citizen mindset.
BONUS QUESTION: Do you have any advice for students who are hesitant to go abroad because of the potential challenges they may face?
I would say, go ahead and take the jump! You never know if you can handle something if you don’t try.
Go in with as much of an open mind as possible and be open to change. You never know what may come of it. And if financials are a challenge, I encourage you to do your research! I went abroad on scholarships; there are many resources available (such as through the U.S. Dept. of State) to help you study abroad.
Interested in exploring language scholarships, university programs, or student testimonials in German or another language? Visit our Lead with German page to learn more. Or, seeking funding for your stduies abroad? Check out federal grants and other opportunities here!
And, as always, don’t forget to share your language learning story @LeadWLanguages on social media!