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Campus Notes: Why I Chose to Study Language

Publication Date: 1/13/2014

By Ellie Skochdopole ′15

As I sat in class among the numerous upperclassmen all taking to each other, I wondered if I was making the right decision. After all, most of my friends were off to Biology I or Introduction to International Relations classes on their first day of freshmen year. I almost wished I were them that first morning—they were sitting among their peers while I was drowning in a sea of unfamiliar faces, expected to speak proficiently in a second language.

Looking back on that morning, I laugh. Little did I know then how comfortable and even content I would be in years to come, how well I would get to know the people around me, how happy I would be studying language at Rhodes.

The decision to continue my study of language was one that seemed natural—I had taken seven years of French in high school and was really invested in achieving fluency. However, once I began studying at Rhodes, my desire transformed from just wanting to be bilingual. I wanted to truly understand the culture and people as well as how they spoke. I found myself listening to French music on 8tracks, willingly watching French movies on Netflix, and trying desperately to incorporate it into my daily conversation (a feat more easily said than done).  

Modern Language at Rhodes is an incredible department, offering small classes for students truly dedicated to their study. I have had classes with almost every one of the professors in French, each of which has brought me new perspective as well as increased my understanding of the language. As I got higher and higher into upper level classes, the same students came with me. We have bonded so much, both encouraging each other to improve our skills and laughing at each other when we messed up. We are friends both inside and outside the classroom.

The passion ignited in me through my studies at Rhodes led me to spend last summer studying literature and working in a contemporary art gallery in Paris. Although I had always been interested in going abroad, the love I discovered through my coursework was what really propelled my decision. Experiencing French culture at its source was an indescribably incredible experience, and it really cemented my love of language study.

Studying language at a college level has not always been easy (writing research papers in another language…kind of difficult), but I can wholeheartedly say that it has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my tenure as a student here. Whether it is French, Spanish, German, Latin, or Chinese, I would definitely recommend intensive language study to any student at Rhodes.