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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Student Reflection: Nicole Tauster

by Nicole Tauster

So you've decided to major in Spanish… Now what?

Maybe you already know, but for those of you (like me) that are still unsure about what to do with your degree in the future, I am here to share my humble insight.

As a senior—and someone that changed their major to Spanish in April of junior year (yes, it can be done!)—I have been getting that dreaded question more and more frequently: “Spanish, huh? So what are you going to do with that?” It’s one that used to make me panic because I did not know, I did not have an answer. But recently I have come to terms with that and realized that maybe I don’t know exactly what I want to with my degree in Spanish, but I am OKAY with not knowing!

Sure, I have ideas, but nothing concrete. The whole concept of career fairs, submitting resumes, and applying for “real-world” jobs is foreign to me; I used to be an elementary education major and we didn't have to worry about any of that stuff! So my senior year has been somewhat of a learning experience, but it has showed me something incredibly important: I love the Spanish language. Taking only Spanish classes and speaking it and listening to it reminded me how much I enjoyed it. I studied abroad in Granada, Spain over a year and a half ago and didn't take any Spanish classes last year. This year I realized how much I missed them! But it’s funny, it’s like riding a bike, or at least it was for me. I thought my Spanish skills would be super rusty, but they surprisingly came right back on the first day of classes as I listened to my Literature teacher explain the syllabus—and I realized I understood everything she said! I think it’s moments like this that you should pay attention to…

My advice? Think about speaking Spanish, or hearing it, and all of your experiences with the language. Then think about what you were doing. Were you talking casually to someone? Were you using Spanish at work? Were you helping people? Now think about how those moments made you feel. Happy? Confident? Fulfilled? If you can connect a positive emotion to a specific experience perhaps you will find a clue as to what you should be doing.

I personally have felt happy when I can help someone, even if it’s just by speaking Spanish to them. Back at home my summer job was at a hardware store and my manager was a total jerk about my major choice and constantly questioned what I could do with it. But I was able to talk to our (very few) Spanish-speaking customers and help them find what they were looking for, something my manager could not do. And my success with those customers made his abuse worth it! So if you have even an inkling of what you might want to do, I urge you to go for it. Do what you want to do and don’t worry about how anyone else might feel about it. I was recently discussing the waiting abyss that is the future and my lack of concrete plans for it with a very good friend of mine. He is in the same boat in a way; he is a saxophone performance major and jokes he will be a starving artist, maybe playing gigs here and there. People judge his choice of major just like they judge mine, but he told me something really important, his latest epiphany: "Forget everyone else. Do what YOU want to do." Seems simple enough, right? But it's often easier said than done. In life we get so caught up in what other people think of us or what they may want for us or expect of us.

So you've decided to major in Spanish… Now what? Forget your manager that gives you a hard time, forget those probing adults that make you feel bad for not knowing the answer yet, forget your family members that judge you and pressure you to have a plan for the future. Even if they are helping you through school financially (and emotionally), forget your parents for just a minute because when May rolls around and they hand you that diploma, it will have YOUR name on it, not theirs, because YOU put in the work and YOU earned it. So shouldn't you be the one to decide what you do with your life? Even if you don’t know exactly what that may be yet…!

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