Featured GNS 2020 Graduates!
Kennedy is a 2020 GNS Graduate with majors in Russian Language and Civilization & Political Science. She spent her senior academic year studying in the Russian Flagship Capstone Program in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which was by far her favorite experience of her undergraduate career. Kennedy also enjoyed studying in the domestic Russian Flagship Program at UW-Madison, completing RLASP in St. Petersburg, and taking the Slavic Survey class on Russia last spring. This fall, Kennedy will begin a Master's Program in the Comparative Politics of Eurasia at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg.
During my time here at UW Professors Mark Louden and Venkat Mani were especially influential for their uniquely engaging, unparalleled teaching styles on the topics of linguistics and Asylum, Exile, and Migration. Learning German has opened my world in many ways; strengthening my understanding of global culture and identity, depending my knowledge of my own language, and allowing me to connect with family members still living in Germany through the Academic Year in Freiburg program.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn German with world-class faculty who all care deeply about helping their students learn how to learn a foreign language. Some of my favorite classes were Intermediate German Speaking and Listening with Instructor Stohs and Advanced Composition and Conversation with Professor Larson-Guenette.
I absolutely loved my time as a German major! I participated in the Academic Year in Freiburg in 2017-18 which was the most rewarding and challenging experience of my time at UW. I hope to find my way back to Germany one day working in foreign policy and diplomacy.
Taking classes in this department has exposed me to a whole new world. I have made so many memories with my classmates and my professors especially Nete Schmidt with whom I have had five classes. Every semester was a fresh experience and learning a new language was so much fun.
My German professors have been the most encouraging and caring professors that I’ve had during my undergrad. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to earn and graduate with my German degree.
Before I applied to college, I knew that I wanted to study Russia, its language, culture, history, and politics and GNS+ was the perfect place for me to do it. I've had amazing Russian language instructors and was able to take courses like the Introductory Survey into Russia, which gave me an excellent background in many aspects of Russia, with which I launched my Wisconsin academic career. Thanks to my Russian language instructors, I felt proficient enough to study abroad in Russia (centered around learning in a university in Moscow), which was one of the highlights of my college experience. As a part of my studies, I was fortunate enough to receive a FLAS award, which I feel that I was only able to receive due to the commitment my GNS+ instructors showed to not only the courses they taught, of which the passion is evident but due to their commitment to each student, myself included. I've reached the point in my language learning that I enjoy immersing myself in Russian music, film, and conversation, something that I'm sure I will carry with me long after I receive my diploma and graduate for UW-Madison.
Languages: German, Portuguese
“…as I progressed, new opportunities opened up to me… From interesting university courses and studying abroad to internship and job opportunities, my German skills have enabled me to do a lot of things that I otherwise couldn’t.”
Languages: Finnish, Swedish, Spanish
“…studying different languages has given me a completely different insight as to how to relate to the rest of the world. They have made me more outgoing and eager to connect with people.”
“I had always been fascinated by Iceland and went there in 2006. I fell in love with the language and culture and jumped on the opportunity to take Icelandic for a year when we (GNS) found a Fulbright scholar who was able to teach it.”
“Through the years, I learned two things about studying a language; the first being learning a new language is very difficult because it forces you to think in a way that no other course does. The second is that no matter how hard you work to improve your language skills there will always be something you don’t know.”
Languages: German, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Zulu
“Zulu has enriched my life in so many ways. Francis, my first year Zulu teacher, gave my daughter a Zulu name. We thought it was beautiful, so now she has a Zulu middle name.”
Languages: Dutch, Russian
“I can’t even imagine my life without language. Professionally, studying Russian at UW-Madison, and all the other languages I studied at least a bit, opened doors that I never even knew existed.”
Languages: German, Italian
“I have lived in countries where I otherwise wouldn’t have lived, met and made lasting friendships with people I wouldn’t have met, seen and experienced things and places I would have never seen, and discovered literature and music that I would never have known about.”
Languages: Swedish, Spanish, Hebrew (Modern)
“I lived in the Norden House of the International Learning Community last year, which was a great experience and one that I would highly recommend. I not only improved my Swedish conversation skills, but gained experience communicating with people who spoke other Scandinavian languages such as Danish and Norwegian.”
“I love the intensity of language study at UW-Madison. Every day was full immersion, and every day I surprised myself at the pace of my own learning. I appreciate UW’s heavy emphasis on speaking, conversation, and creative communication, not simple memorization and dictation.”
“I cannot express how much my study abroad experience in Rovinj, Croatia means to me. I light up any time that I talk about it or look at pictures. It inspired me to take the language and was my first experience outside of the United States.”
Languages: Turkish, Spanish
“For me, languages opened the door to the Panamanian and Turkish cultures and their people.Yet, the transformation did something much more for me. I became a full-fledged member of the much larger global community.”
Languages: Kazakh, Russian, Uzbek
“I have found that being able to travel to and live in a foreign country without having to rely on English is a very proud and empowering experience.”
Languages: Polish, French
“Polish has enriched my life mostly in that meeting other Polish-speaking people is an instant opportunity to make new friends. Since Polish has so many humorous expressions and Polish people have a great sense of humor, more friends means more occasions to laugh.”
“Studying abroad at the University of Oslo was probably the greatest 6-week period of my entire life. I was fully immersed in an international summer school where I met people from all over the world. I can still remember the dorm, my roommates, other friends, the layout of the area surrounding the university and just how I felt living in the city.”
“Just go with the flow. Try to do a little bit each day and study abroad. If you become fluent, it will help you more than you know.”
“Studying Norwegian also gave me the opportunity to go to Norway as a traveler rather than a tourist. Visiting other countries helps one gain a better understanding of the world, and being able to speak the local language allows for more in-depth discoveries and friendships to blossom.”
“Language learning does not end in the classroom. Get out there, put yourself in uncomfortable situations and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
Languages: Danish, German, Russian, Spanish, Greek (Ancient)
“Besides helping me to further connect with different people that I meet, every bit of knowledge I learn about other languages helped me to better understand the English language. Not to mention that each language I studied, no matter how briefly, has made me that much more marketable.”
Languages: Kazakh, Russian
“I think learning languages is really fun and also a valuable window to culture. These types of experiences teach me so much and I really value learning about other cultures through language.”
“Language classes were always fun because more so than in other subjects, I could watch progress happen before my eyes.”
Languages: Swedish, Spanish, French
“Professionally, people align studying abroad and learning new languages to mean that a person is well-rounded, independent, forward-thinking and cultured. I feel that I am all of those things because of learning about languages and culture, as well as living in another country.”
“Learning Kazakh was an entirely new experience, as it brought me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to an entirely new culture with vastly different beliefs, traditions and customs than those I have become accustomed to.”
Languages: Hindi, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish
“It is always worth it to learn another language–even if you cannot see the benefit now, you will see it later. Once you open yourself up to learning world languages, they will open you up to the world.”
Languages: Turkish, French
“These languages have greatly enriched my life! Not only did they allow me to learn about many different cultures in multiple regions of the world, but I was also able to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).”
Language: Czech, German
“…by the end of the year I had not only learned German but had visited several European countries, including Czechoslovakia, and had realized that I could adjust to living in another country long-term. This realization led to years abroad teaching English in Spain and the Czech Republic and eventually to my doctoral study.”
“Learning another language has so many positive impacts on one’s life. You can use it as a resume builder, improve your “brain health”, and have a greater understanding of other cultures.”
“I feel like it’s impossible to quantify the value of learning German and living abroad. But after these experiences, I realized I had more freedom to choose how I could live my life.”
Languages: Swedish, Spanish, French
“Learning a new language opens up your life in a way that nothing else can. You learn to operate in a new linguistic and cultural environment. I used my language skills to travel and work abroad, but I also use my language skills everyday with community members here in Madison.”
Languages: Turkish, Chinese, Portuguese
“I believe the best things about traveling is attempting to live like members of the respective culture, and speaking the language is the best way to do this. Personally, language study at a university level is what really got me into the hobby of my life because of the classes I enrolled in at UW-Madison.”
Languages: Czech, Dutch, German
“It’s an amazing feeling to adapt to a culture halfway across the world and experience life as a local. I’ve been shown hidden castles in the Alps, secret clubs in Berlin, and met some of the most extraordinary people in my life. Plus, as an American, no one expects you to speak another language so it can be a neat party trick.”
Languages: German, Chinese
“Learning German and Mandarin has given me the opportunity to travel the world, to meet new people, to try foods that have way too many legs, and to become horribly lost in foreign cities yet know that I will somehow be able to find my way home.”