I was born and raised in New York City, and I’d have to say that I wouldn’t be a Multi-Language Major without it! Growing up in New York City, I was exposed to so many cultures. Going to somewhere as everyday as school, the park, or the store, I heard so many languages. And I was no exception. My mother and her family, who followed just after I was born, are all from China. I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese, and was immersed in the culture when I was younger. Perhaps one of my greatest regrets growing up is not taking my ability to learn the language seriously. When I spoke with my mother, I usually spoke in a blend of English and Chinese, using the former to “fill-in” any word I didn’t know of the latter. I also didn’t learn to read or write much more than my name. When I discovered St. Lawrence offered Mandarin Chinese, I instantly pre-registered for the course for my freshman year.
But before I even talk about registering courses, I have to tell you about how I came to choose SLU in the first place. SLU was the first of many upstate colleges I toured, and it was love at first sight when I walked into Carnegie, home of the Modern Languages and Literatures department. The variety of languages offered, especially those of non-Roman alphabets, left a huge impression upon me about the college: this is a place where people are willing to push outside the typical French and Spanish and see beyond the Western world. SLU’s Study Abroad Program spans the six continents, and the choices are near limitless. While I have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity, it is set in my heart to study abroad at least once, a surprisingly affordable feat at St. Lawrence.
Like many freshmen, my intended major has shifted a number of times since my late years in high school to my freshman year at college. But it soon became clear after a number of “testing” different department courses that my heart was set on foreign language. SLU offers not only majors in the typical European languages (Spanish, French, and German), but also a unique Multi-Language major. I am currently pursuing this major, which requires three languages. I am currently enrolled in Chinese (my concentration), Arabic, and Japanese. I’ve often been called insane by my friends for pursuing three languages that do not use the Roman alphabet, but it is simpler than one might think if they keep an open mind.
I encourage everyone who enrolls at St. Lawrence to take a language course, because it is a practical way to view inside a culture. If you’re interested in a country or culture but don’t want to sit in a lecture remembering dates and events, learning a language is suited for you. Even if you do like history, knowledge about the language can give you a deeper view that others may not see.