Hi! I’m Marilyn, and I’m a class of 2018 alumnus of the Germanics program at UW. I wanted to write a quick update about how my life has been going for the 2 years since I left, because I feel I owe a lot to this department, as the skills I learned here have served me well.
Shortly after graduating, I flew to Germany and began living in the small town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located in the heart of the Bavarian alps. There I worked as a tour guide, learned to ski, and quickly forgot all Hochdeutsch in favor of the Bavarian dialect. It was a beautiful place, full of warm-hearted people. My studies in the German department at UW gave me the fluency and confidence to forge meaningful relationships with the locals, who often spoke very little English.
I also found I had an insatiable hunger for travel while I was abroad; I managed to visit 14 countries in total! During my travels, I was surprised by how often my German speaking skills came in handy (people speak more German than Italian in northern Italy!), but I found the cultural and historical context I had gained in my studies to be even more meaningful. I was able to have a deeper appreciation for the beauty of Vienna thanks to a course on Viennese history taught by Kye Terrasi, and was able to improve the tours I guided by providing local connections to the Sturm und Drang cultural movement thanks to a course by Ellwood Wiggins.
Now that I am back in the states, I am joining the fight against COVID-19 by working to help process tests for the virus in the Public Health Laboratories in Seattle. This means that for the first time since I started learning the language in my freshman year of high school, I will no longer be using German on a daily basis for school or work. Looking back, I can’t help but appreciate where my studies have taken me, and the people who made that possible. In short, I want to thank the UW Germanics department as a whole!