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Bradley Shrum

July 18, 2016
Photograph of recent alumni Bradley Shrum
Bradley Shrum

Graduation Year: 2016

Hometown: Grand Forks, ND

Why did you choose to major or minor in German, Scandinavian & Dutch?

When I transferred to the University of Minnesota, my goal was to become a high school German teacher. Little did I know that in a few short months I would find myself exploring deeper aspects of the language. I think the University does an exceptional job at getting students to try new things outside of their comfort zones. After some advising and an introductory course in linguistics, I declared a double major in German, Scandinavian, Dutch (with a German emphasis) and linguistics.

What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?

I think the most rewarding part of being a GSD major is the diversity of material within the department. Many GSD classes teach students about their target language and culture in addition to encouraging students to understand Scandinavian topics. The courses I took as an undergrad ranged in breadth from German migration cinema and comics, Scandinavian women's writers, and vikings, knights, and reformers!

One class in particular stood out for me—GER 3012W: Conversation and Composition. This course used texts and media to explore contemporary “green” German attitudes about environmental issues. The course allowed me to explore literature that I might have otherwise overlooked.

What language did you choose and why?

My passion for German culture began when I started learning the language in 10th grade. As a high school student, I received the opportunity to travel to Germany as part of a student exchange program. This experience further solidified my desire to continue learning the language. Coming to the University of Minnesota to study German seemed like a natural choice after my return to the US. The frequent stereotype you hear about German is that it is such a harsh and blunt language, but having studied it in depth, I have found the opposite to be true. German is a soft and affectionate language and I think this is why I am so passionate about it.

What is something about the GSD department that most people wouldn’t know?

I feel that the devoted staff is something that I frequently experience, but may not be mentioned often. The department is a small, tightknit community, and after my first semester I really felt at home in Folwell Hall. I found that the faculty in GSD really cared about me and it was nice knowing that I could go to anyone for advice or help. More importantly, I found mentors within the department who helped me with my future goals in academia.

Are you pursuing any minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your GSD major? How do you feel they enhance your studies in GSD and/or your career plans?

I have just been accepted into a graduate program in linguistics. This achievement is a direct result of the preparation I received in GSD, as well as a testament to the support and devotion of the faculty to help their students achieve their goals. Moving forward, I am confident that my background in Germanic studies will continue to aid me in my future. Studying a language is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself; it rounds you out as a person and opens up doors to unimaginable places. GSD and the University of Minnesota do a really great job at preparing students and creating opportunities for them to use what they’ve learned to succeed.

In addition to studying, I maintain my language skills and feed my interest in German culture through my involvement in the student conversation group Kaffeestunde, German Club, and the Society of Undergraduate Linguists. I strongly believe that involvement in these groups has allowed me to cultivate my interest in German culture while enabling me to meet amazing people with similar interests.

What GSD courses would you recommend for majors? For nonmajors who want to take a GSD course?

For majors, I cannot stress enough the value of taking literature classes. I found that taking these courses really helped improve my language skills because they challenged me to learn new vocabulary and use the vocabulary in discussion. I also learned about social issues during the eras of the texts’ publications—for example, the enlightenment or the conflict between bourgeoisie and proletarians during the 19th century.

As for nonmajors, I would recommend German folklore (taught in English) or GSD 3511W, Vikings, Knights and Reformers (also taught in English).

When you are not in class where can you usually be found on campus?

When I’m not in Folwell Hall, you can almost always find me in Elliot or Nicholson Hall. I also spend a lot of time in Walter Library. When I’m not there you can usually find me at the Center for Education and Innovation, where I work as an English teaching assistant.