Monday, November 3, 2014


Almost 2 years ago I was considering finishing my M.A. in Linguistics, so I went to a few open houses at the University I graduated from and ended up bumping into a familiar face-the husband of one of my French Professors who happened to be an adviser for the graduate studies in Liberal Arts program as well as the undergraduate studies in German. I felt very obligated to finish my M.A. even though my heart is not in it and I have no real need to complete a Master's. The truth is that I should have never even attempted graduate school, though I'm sure (fingers crosses) at some point I'll look back and see a valuable reason for all the time/money and effort spent. We talked for a long time, I told this prof my true feelings about where I stood with a graduate degree and I also mentioned my passion for languages and that if I was following my heart I'd really just want to study another language. Then he said something so simple to me- "It sounds like you want to learn German." Where I knew this, it was like hearing someone say to me was like receiving reassurance that it's ok to do what I actually wanted to do and not just what I felt like what I was supposed to do. The professor was supportive and encouraging and it hit me- 'I do not want or need to complete my Master's at this time, what I want is to learn German. So that's just what I'll do.' Now, can I even do this? Can I 'regress'? Having taking graduate level courses at another university could I even transfer back to my previous college for a second degree? I spoke to a few of the people I needed to then sent a series of emails to the advisor to which he replied with a long email and a lot of steps to go about how to begin this process. And I kept that email in my inbox for 14 months looking at it periodically, each time feeling overwhelmed and knowing this was going to be a lot of 'work' just to get myself back in. I constantly think about what that psychic said to me 'you accomplish everything you set out to do, it just takes you time.' That couldn't be more true. I started a blanket when I was 14, put it aside for a while then one day when I was 17 I thought 'I'm finishing that damn blanket-I picked it up and 3 months later surprised my grandma who had assumed I had long ago tossed it in the trash. It's like for me, I just very much have to be in the exact right mood, and one day in July I was online, probably looking at pinterest, and thought I'm going to look at the email again and just see where I need to begin. Step 1. Re apply. Ok, I'll do that right now. Several hoops needed to be jumped through in order to make this all happen and so quickly. In fact I ended up meeting the deadlines on the day of. Here I was in Maryland with my daughter getting ready to spend the day sightseeing in D.C. on the phone with the office of the registrar at my 2 Universities, sending faxes and paying hefty 'overnight' fees. Alas, I was accepted into the program!

On my first day last week, I was so nervous I thought I was going to pass out mostly because I was so totally embarrassed to be the oldest person in my class (saying that makes me want to throw up)'s actually not too bad...IN FACT- I LOVE being the older one in the class. These kids kind of look up to me and ask me for help. It makes me feel needed! AND because of my extensive experience so many things are just 'old hat' to me and if there is one thing I'm good at it's learning a language. So far, it's going great! And I'm really glad I finally decided to go for it.

There are several reasons why I wanted to learn German but I feel like this post is already too long!

I found the quote below to perfectly sum up my challenges with the German language, perhaps it's only because I'm in the moment but I'm finding German grammar to be far more complex than learning the Arabic alphabet and pronunciation which was once my greatest feat.

"My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years. It seems manifest, then, that the latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired. If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it." -Mark Twain

You might also like....