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Elizabeth Stopka

May 23, 2016
Photo of Elizabeth Stopka

When did you graduate?

Spring 2013

Tell us about your current job and what you love best about what you are doing?

I’m currently a full-time graduate student at the U of M working on my MA in Teaching English as a Second Language for Higher Education. In addition, I work on campus at Student English Language Support as an ESL consultant. The thing I love most about my field is the diversity of people I encounter every day. I love meeting and working with people from all over the world.

Do you feel like your degree prepared you for work? How/why?

Definitely. Learning Swedish to fluency through UMN courses and studying abroad has given me innumerable language-learning strategies which I can transfer to my language teaching and tutoring. In addition, in analyzing different aspects of Scandinavian culture as part of my major courses, I learned how to reflect critically on culture and seek the why behind cultural practices rather than just seeing culture as a group of symbols or products.

What did you like best about your experience in the GSD Department at the University of Minnesota?

I loved all my Swedish courses, but my favorite was SCAN 3011: Readings in Scandinavian Languages. The experience of speaking in Swedish but being able to understand and be understood by the Norwegian speakers in the class was fantastic. I could easily see how my language skills could transfer and that by learning Swedish, I was also gaining a bonus of understanding Norwegian and Danish. I also really loved participating in Den Svenska Klubben events. (Which is the Swedish Club organized by students and Dr. Lena Norrman)

What advice would you have for undergraduate students in GSD?

Don’t let anyone tell you that the language you are learning is not valuable because “everyone there speaks English.” Language can be as useful as you make it. Always seek out opportunities to speak it. For example, I was on a tiny island in Indonesia and made some lifelong friends just because I heard them speaking Swedish and decided to jump into the conversation! The world is small and it gets even smaller when you speak more than one language.

How did you maximize your experience in the GSD program?

I studied abroad at Uppsala University in 2012 which was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate experience. While I was there, I took an advanced Swedish class at a level that was not available to me at the U, which really helped me develop my academic reading and writing skills. In addition, I met people from all over the world and learned about the unique student culture in Sweden by participating in centuries-old university traditions (Uppsala was founded in 1477). It was truly a dream come true for a Swedophile and history buff like me!

What books or blogs are you currently reading? Recommendations?

The Swedish book I recommend is Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) and an interesting website-blog related to language is Language Log.