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Learning Abroad Is for Everyone

June 12, 2019

The Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch boasts many accomplished and well-traveled students of world languages and cultures. Their experiences are as vast and vibrant as the languages they study, and their relationship with the culture surrounding their respective language is enhanced by the real-world connections made as they study alongside native speakers. The GNSD department encourages all of its students to learn abroad if they can and provides advising and scholarship support to help students make their dreams a reality.

Undergraduates and alumni discuss their learning abroad experiences, reflecting on favorite memories and the ways that studying another language and culture has enriched their educations, career paths, and personal lives. They also share details about how they made their trips possible as well as advice for students thinking about going abroad. A common refrain emerges from their stories: learning abroad is life-changing and worth the pursuit.

Photo of Anna Keltner

A Changed Perspective

Anna Keltner is working toward a double-major in German, Scandinavian, Dutch (with an emphasis in Finnish) and strategic communications, with a minor in political science. She shares how learning abroad in Finland advanced her personal and professional plans and inspired new goals, adding that she “gained so much confidence, became a lot more independent, and got a much clearer picture of how [she wants her] life to go.”


Photo of Abby Bauer

Living Your Coursework

Abigail Bauer is pursuing a German, Scandinavian, Dutch major and a minor in Swedish. Reflecting on a previous trip to Europe, she explains that “learning abroad makes real the history you learn in the classroom” because it creates a personal, tangible connection. She adds that learning abroad aids in personal development by helping you gain “new confidence to explore other places and their cultures,” and looks forward to returning to Germany this summer.


Photo of Chelsea Spencer

An Experience for Everyone

Chelsea Spencer is a senior majoring in German, Scandinavian, Dutch (with an emphasis in German) and global studies and minoring in biology. During her time abroad, Spencer maximized her time by traveling, volunteering, and living with a native German family. Spencer reflects that studying abroad can work for anyone, regardless of their schedule or budget, and adds that “it’s an experience unlike any other.”


Photo of Molly Tynjala

Finding Authenticity Abroad

Molly Tynjala recently graduated with a major in English and a minor in political science. Driven to learn more about her heritage, she began taking Finnish classes as a sophomore and discovered a deep appreciation for Finnish language and culture. The Finnish Connection Scholarship she received allowed her to explore the country firsthand. “The support of donors means the world to me,” she says. “It illustrates to me that other people still have hope for the future and have faith that young people will achieve remarkable things.”


This story was written by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.