As someone who had studied German all through high school and absolutely loved it, the decision to major in German Studies seemed logical. I didn’t know it then, but that was the best worst-informed decision I have yet made.
Studying modern languages gave me the opportunity to go overseas, study in Germany, and now possibly to go to Lithuania and Austria over the summer to research and teach English. Between German and Russian, which I picked up sophomore year here, I discovered entirely new movements of literature and philosophy that I hadn’t even heard of (and certainly would not have been able to pronounce!), and having access to those other languages has proved invaluable to my study of history.
Studying a foreign language is about 95% gruelling work and 5% glowing epiphany, but as much as memorizing endless charts of verb conjugations and noun endings makes you want to eat a pint of ice cream and cry on the floor, it’s all worth it once you pick up a copy of Goethe’s Faust and read it in the original German. Learning German, and now Russian as well, has taught me more than just a jumble of funny sounds, but a whole new perspective on the world. There’s a theory that the language you speak affects the way you think. I believe it.