Elisabeth Diaz

I have always had a passion for other cultures and languages. For me it is like discovering a whole new world, but I never thought I would end up majoring in German. I actually wanted to take French in high school, but it was full and since I already spoke Spanish I ended up taking German. At the beginning, I hated it; the gender, cases, vocabulary, and getting used to the fact that my name was now “Erika.” I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but after being frustrated with the grammar somehow I became enamored with the German language, culture, and my new shorter name!

After learning about Holocaust and the Second World War, I questioned whether this was all that Germany was known for. I became intrigued to learn more about Germany, and before I knew it, I declared German as my major. One of the advantages of being a German major at UCLA is that I never had to worry about my classes being full, and that the professors or TA’s have more time to answer questions or help you, especially when you are starting to learn the language. I found the conversation classes in German (after German 1-6) to be important because it builds on your basic skills, which means you will be able to communicate more effectively and have a decent conversation in German. After you’re done with these required courses, then the real fun begins, because you’ll be able to choose classes that are interesting to you.

My favorite course has been German 187 “The German Body” because it touched on topics that I never related to Germany (Afro-Germans and disability). It also became easier to understand aspects from the German culture. Most of these classes will be taught in German, but it is okay if you don’t understand because everyone has a different language level and the professors know that, but in the end your language skills will improve. There are also other opportunities to practice your German outside of class with film nights or “Kaffee Stunde.” You can also do a summer study abroad in Germany and Austria with UCLA (or a quarter and there are also scholarships available). There’s really nothing like learning the language and culture in the actual country, and believe it or not you discover new things about yourself. I felt that my German language skills weren’t good enough, but I ended up having a conversation about pitas and tortillas in German!

I majored in German because I love the language and culture, even with its complications. Besides learning a new language, I also gained a different perspective. There are times where I was frustrated or stressed, but it was worth it. German as a major, may not be so common, but someday I would like to teach German as a foreign language, so it suited my needs. The first step for choosing your major is to make sure, that it is something that you enjoy because it makes the workload easier and being a German major was one of the best experiences I ever had.