University of Wisconsin–Madison

Alumni

Andrew R.’s Profile

Language: Turkish

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…

Joseph M. H.’s Profile

Languages: German, Portuguese

I had experience with German early in life thanks to my parents, who both speak German and lived in Germany. During my freshman year at UW I also took part in a Freshman Interest Group (FIG) about Brazilian Culture, so a Portuguese course was part of my first semester. I am mostly motivated by the fact the most of the world speaks another language than English- learning languages opens a whole new set of opportunities to you…

Michelle’s Profile

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. Of course, there exists beautiful literature and poetry that can be most fully appreciated in its original form. Lastly, Polish is a gateway to unlocking many languages of Eastern Europe. Languages such as Russian and Ukrainian share many similarities in vocabulary and grammar structure, so a solid knowledge of Polish will facilitate the learning of more Eastern European languages…

Gage T.’s Profile

Language: Norwegian

Since graduation, I have maintained the use of Norwegian in a few key ways: First and foremost, my wife and I use it to converse, especially when we don’t want others to know what we are saying. It’s sort of like our secret language, and it’s a very useful thing in some instances!…

Jonathon D.’s Profile

Languages: Kazakh, Russian, Uzbek

Russian, Uzbek and Kazakh have allowed me to gain access and experience cultures, peoples and traditions that are very different from my own. Furthermore, 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…

Ryan P.’s Profile

Language: German

Having always enjoyed my time in language classes, I joked that my career goal was to be a student forever. By becoming an ESL instructor, I have essentially made this goal a reality. Everyday, I get to use my own experiences to benefit others all while continuing to learn about the world around me through other languages and cultures…

Brett S.’s Profile

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. I know for a fact that I could not be doing what I do now had I not studied Russian. And those doors that are open lead to more, and those…

Lisa’s Profile

Language: Czech, German

My knowledge of German made it possible for me to embark on the project which has become my main focus of research: a study of theatrical performance in the World War II ghetto at Theresienstadt. Learning German also gave me the confidence to take on Czech, another indispensable language for this project. For the past ten years I have been studying scripts written by Czech, German and Austrian Jews in the ghetto and have been interviewing survivors to find out why they chose theatrica performance as a way to deal with the crisis they faced…

Hilary K.’s Profile

Language: Swedish

I competed on the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team in the 2010 Olympics and our living quarters were directly across from the Swedes. I heard Swedish a few times and was mesmerized by the language. Also, I plan on living in Sweden to play professional ice hockey…

Kendra B.’s Profile

Languages: Turkish, Spanish

On the first page of the journal I took with me to Panama I had scrawled the words: “To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture,” -Franz Fanon. For me, the 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. From this new perspective I began to realize how interconnected we all are. In the end, learning Spanish and Turkish didn’t just satisfy my curiosity; it created a new hunger to understand new languages, travel to new places, and get to know more of my neighbors…

Emily G.’s Profile

Languages: Danish, German, Spanish

German has helped me express myself in ways in which I feel I’m restricted while speaking in English. I can speak my mind well, and because of learning a new language, I have also consequently learned a new culture, way of thinking, and feel more “myself.” Studying languages has enriched my life in countless ways. Because of learning another language, I have had the opportunity to study abroad in a non-English-speaking country, travel throughout a multitude of countries, and have met people from around the world. I have learned more about the many different cultures and customs our world has to offer, I have improved my English grammar, and more…

Emily I.’s Profile

Languages: Swedish, Spanish, Hebrew (Modern)

In truth, every Swedish class was a blast because my teacher Rakel had the wackiest, most creative teaching style ever! She once printed out a bunch of pictures of herself from a website that blended her face with old yearbook photos. She strung them out onto necklaces for the entire class to wear as we organized ourselves into a human family tree to help us learn the Swedish words for different family members…

Madeline R.’s Profile

Languages: Turkish, French

 I intensively studied Turkish in Ankara, Turkey for 10 weeks with CLS, and it was a great experience that allowed me to greatly improve my language skills! After completing the program, I became an alumni ambassador and I help advertise the program and help both applicants and finalists! Learning the language both at UW-Madison and abroad helped me grow as a person, and I truly believe that my dedication to learning languages has helped me get opportunities both related to language learning and in seemingly non-related fields like environmental research…

Julia M.’s Profile

Language: Kazakh

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. We learn how to use the language in all kinds of practical situations. Experienced teachers, an organized and supportive administration, and small class sizes make for a very positive, personalized learning environment…

 

Storm K.’s Profile

Languages: Czech, Dutch, German

 I now head up European Business Development for a global creative production company called MediaMonks. It’s my job to meet with major brands and advertising agencies all over Europe with the intention of creating innovative and effective advertising campaigns. It’s a pretty incredible position where I work on the forefront of new creative technologies (like virtual reality) on an international level. I speak three languages every day, and fly to a new city every other week. Never a dull moment…

Lauren A.’s Profile

Language: Serbo-Croatian

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. There’s so much that I gained from it- from knowledge to confidence, that I don’t think I could possibly sum it up in a few sentences…

Rebecca H.’s Profile

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. The experience of learning new languages seems to automatically open up your mind to other experiences and you naturally view the world differently. Rather than having a single American English-speaking point-of-view, you become well-rounded in an organic, effortless way. People notice this…

Jillana P. Profile

Language: Danish

Studying languages has always been a passion of mine, and learning both Icelandic and Dutch has increased my knowledge of English as they all reside in the same Germanic language tree. Living abroad in Denmark for a year was one of the most incredible times of my life, and the opportunity to live and study in another country is completely invaluable to one’s personal development…

Kate W.’s Profile

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…

Rebecca D.’s Profile

Languages: Finnish, Swedish, Spanish

UW classes are huge and full of people that you’ll most likely never meet. The language classes, however, are the complete opposite. They are intimate and small, and you have the ability to connect with your classmates and teachers on a much more personal level. When progressing to higher levels, you often stay with the same group you started with. You’ll end up going to classes for 4 years with some of the same people, leading to lifelong friendships. Plus, language classes are fun! You get to play games and watch foreign TV shows and eat new kinds of foods…

Eric E. Profile

Language: Kazakh

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…

Alexandra’s Profile

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. In addition, studying Zulu helped me realize what it is that I want to do with my life, which is collect recordings of endangered Bantu languages and work on Proto-Bantu…

Chelsea-Leigh’s Profile

Language: Swedish

Studying Swedish has pushed me academically in many ways. I have to work harder in my Swedish course than any other class I have taken here on campus. I know that this type of hard work will be applicable to any field I decide to enter…

Elizabeth K.’s Profile

Language: German

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. There’s something about attending college that tacitly made me feel like I had to tick all of the boxes and get the perfect GPA. Studying abroad completely reinvented this model for me and I became an independent thinker and an even more ambitious achiever. I started planning what I wanted my life to be like post-college…

Stephanie T.’s Profile

Language: Norwegian

Norwegian has enriched my life in so many ways! Not only did I make life-long friends, I also met my husband! Talk about a cool ‘how’d you meet’ story. 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…

Kevin’s Profile

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. Studying foreign languages has also improved my understanding of English, because it makes you think about how languages are structured, what the rules are and why- and that is sometimes difficult to do when the only language you know is the one you learned as a child…

Greta M.’s Profile

Language: Swedish

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. While all of these hold true for my experience, the most enriching experience has been feeling a greater appreciation and connection to my family history…

Caitlin M.’s Profile

Languages: Swedish, Spanish, French

I studied abroad twice–in Umeå, Sweden, and in Québec, Canada. Immersion experiences not only allow for dramatic improvement in language skills, but also for great personal development. When you step into a new culture, you learn about yourself, your values. Each time I move away from the cultural pressures of the US, I discover positive ways to change, and I bring that home with me…

Kassandra R.’s Profile

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…

Quinn’s Profile

Languages: Turkish, Chinese, Portuguese

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. Finally, studying a language academically, like I did, helped me understand how language in general works and why English can be so quirky sometimes. As an English teacher, I am able to relate to what my students may be confused about while they are learning…

Hannah F.’s Profile

Languages: Kazakh, Russian

The UW classes were unique because of the small class sizes and the inclusion of cultural elements in our lessons. We had a very small class size (3 people) which meant that we received a lot of tailored instruction and attention from our instructor. In an elementary class this type of individualized instruction is especially important…

Tessa C.’s Profile

Language: German

People often ask me, “Why learn German? Don’t they all speak perfect English over there anyways?” But learning German has definitely not been a waste of time. Germany is a relevant and powerful country and has acted as the de facto head of Europe in handling both the Euro and the refugee crises. It’s the regular +1 member at P5 UN Security Council meetings. Speaking German and understanding the culture has opened so many doors: from internships, to Fulbright, to personal relationships…

Anna’s Profile

Languages: German, Chinese

Although I had taken some German in High School, I was in no way prepared for the moment when I stepped into lab on my first day, and my mentor began explaining the functioning of an X-ray diffraction machine completely auf Deutsch. Communicating that summer was by no means easy, but being able to present my final findings to the department’s head professor completely in his native language was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life…