While I was there, I lived with a young newly-wed couple who only spoke a little English. That meant that when I was at home I only spoke Russian, and my hosts introduced me to a lot of their friends. We stayed very busy at work, but we spent most of our free time on weekends out with Russian friends, seeing the countryside or experiencing some real Russian traditions like shashlik (Russian barbeque) or going to the banya, which are Russian bath houses and replete with their own intricate rituals.
I think it goes without saying that my Russian improved exponentially while I was there. If you're getting close to finishing a degree in Russian, you should consider spending some time living in Russia. Despite the current political climate it's still worth the trip, as there are some really fantastic opportunities for native English speakers over there. It will be one of the most important things you
Following graduation, I moved to Madrid, Spain, to work in a public high school as
an English teaching assistant. During my year in Spain I assisted in a variety of
different courses ranging from history and biology to physical education. This year
helped me to further improve my fluency in Spanish while also allowing me to take
advantage of the many travel opportunities that Europe has to offer. I spent Christmas
in Prague, New Years in Rome, and even visited the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Along the way, I was also able to travel to France and Morocco and explore many different
cities in Spain.
Upon my return to the States from Spain, I resumed employment as a paralegal assistant at the same law firm with which I had worked throughout my junior and senior years of college. In this way, I was able to observe the inner-workings of the legal field, and even participate in trial on two different criminal cases. I am currently living and working in Jacksonville, Florida, as a legal assistant in a small family law office where I am learning about the nuances of this particular legal area. While I am working I am also preparing my application for graduate school. I will be applying to joint degree programs in order to receive my Masters degree in Latin American Studies in conjunction with a J.D. Upon completion of graduate school I intend to seek employment within the legal field as an immigration attorney. The degree in Spanish that I received from USA has not only benefited me by providing me with a strong enough background in the language to survive on my own in Spain for a year, but has also benefitted me within the legal field as well. Being fluent in Spanish is one of the skills that helped me obtain my current job and has allowed me to communicate with potential clients and witnesses and I am confident that it will continue to benefit me in my future endeavors as well.
Two months after graduating from USA with a degree in German, I moved to Germany in February 2009. I had no job when I landed in Dresden but was seeking the experience of living abroad for a longer duration, not just a summer abroad. Dresden felt familiar since I had done my study abroad here at the Goethe Institute. Initially, I lived in a youth hostel but eventually found a flat with a wonderful family and became their ‘American daughter’. After teaching English for 5 years in 2014 I decided to strike out on my own and start my own company.
In October of the same year, Dresden's welcoming atmosphere began to change due to Pegida's anti- foreigner demonstrations. Hearing then chant ‘Ammis go home!!’ gave me goose bumps. Foreigners were attacked on the streets, bullied and discriminated against in many other ways. I wanted to do something about the growing xenophobia. I attended all anti-Pegida demonstrations organized by Dresden für Alle. I also became a member of International Friends Dresden where we organized the ‘Monday Night Buddies.’ We go to refugees homes and cook, play games and hang out.
During one of these evenings I asked my friends from Eritrea what they really needed. Their answer was unanimously ‘German lessons’. The next day I went about finding people ready to offer such lessons. A room was needed, so I asked the library in Neustadt and got a room and organized a meeting for volunteers, a week later, in March of this year, lessons started. From there I moved on to a youth club near the university where lessons have been held daily since March. 13 new classes were added to the list in September.
I volunteer for the Red Cross and organize the German lessons because this is my way of telling Pegida and the Nazis that they aren’t wanted in this beautiful city of Dresden. I’ve been here nearly 7 years now and can’t imagine leaving. It has become my new home and I have a family with members from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, India, Syria and Germany.