As early as my very first Spanish class in seventh grade I knew that I had discovered one of life’s true joys in the study of language. What I didn’t know then was how far it would take me. This is my first year in a Linguistics PhD program in Salt Lake City, and it is also the first year in over a decade that I haven’t been taking a Spanish class. As much as I miss it (and I do miss it terribly!), my wonderful time in the World Languages and Cultures department at ISU continues to play an active role in my studies and my life.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to put my Russian studies minor to use when my advisor came to me in a tizzy because she was trying to analyze Russian speech and the transcription she had was written in Cyrillic. I was delighted to be able to transliterate it for her so she could better follow along. This summer, I am taking advantage of a service trip to Guatemala so that I have a good reason to keep my Spanish up to snuff. It is very comforting to have the background in Spanish and Russian as a foundation on which I can rely, especially since my primary focus is on second language acquisition. My experience as a language learner has also been very useful, as I have begun to learn what it takes to teach a second language!
For those of you who are still trying to decide how best to take advantage of your time in WLC, I have two nuggets of advice. First and foremost, do not pass up an opportunity to study abroad. My three months in Cáceres, Spain were truly the best three months of my life in so many ways. I made some of my best friends in college there (I’m flying home for one of their weddings this summer!), I gained the confidence it takes to move across the country after graduation, the proficiency of my listening and speaking improved dramatically, and I lived a truly charmed life. It’s been three years, and I still regularly hear from my host parents. I have never spoken to anyone who regretted their time abroad, but I have many friends who regret not doing it. So do it! My second piece of advice is if you have some credits to spare, consider exploring a language and culture that you never thought about before. I cannot tell you how richly my life has been sweetened by my experience in Russian studies.
As I continue to pursue my studies in linguistics, I will strive to stand on the shoulders of the giants who invested in me and brought me here! I am forever grateful for my four amazing years in WLC.