Student Profiles - Brandon Mountain
Major: French and German with a minor in linguistics
Hometown: Lancaster, Pa.
What made you want to dual major in foreign language?
When I began learning French in eighth grade, I fell in love with it. My interests were pretty eclectic, I considered studying physics, but I knew my choice would be foreign language. I took a variety of languages in high school including German and Chinese and this furthered my interest to pursue them in college.
How do you maintain a balance between all of the languages you are studying?
I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming, in fact I think it helps. There are structures and words that some languages have in common with each other that English does not. Studying multiple languages helps me not to cling too closely to my native language.
Do you think college is too late for somebody to pick up a foreign language?
The teaching of a foreign language must be radically different for an older person than it would be for child, but I don’t think it’s ever too late to start learning. It will of course be more difficult, but worth it. I would encourage any student to pursue a foreign language, whether as an elective, a minor or major, regardless of what the student’s area of study may be.
What are you looking forward to most about studying abroad in Caen, France, in the fall and Marburg, Germany, in the spring?
I’m looking forward to practicing the languages with native speakers, experiencing new cultures and simply seeing the world, there’s so much history out there.
You’ve traveled around the globe several times to many different countries. What is your advice to a student that is nervous about venturing out and leaving the United States?
Do it. Not every moment will be perfect, but it will be amazing and you will make memories that will last a lifetime. Be careful, but don’t let precaution keep you from living.
What are you hoping to do with your degree post-graduation?
I want to study comparative linguistics in graduate school and continue my study of both French and German. I would like to pursue a Ph.D., ideally in Europe, and would love to become a professor.
What on-campus organizations are you currently involved in?
I am the co-president of the French club on campus, in which I assist the other co-president in the planning and organizing of events, such as trips to French operas in Philadelphia and museums with French art. We also host francophone dinners, which is an event that introduces non-club members to different French style dishes that originate from French speaking countries or regions. I am also a member of the German club, in which I attend weekly meetings and events, such as our German dinner and our recent trip to the Ephrata Cloister. The Ephrata Cloister is one of America's earliest religious communities and was founded by German settlers.
What has been your favorite experience traveling abroad?
When I visited Chengdu, China, I held a baby giant panda at a breeding research center.
Have you been in a situation where your foreign language skills came in handy?
Definitely. When I visited France in 2006 with my French class, I had a better grasp on the language than some of my classmates and was able to better communicate my way around with choppy sentences and pointing. Also, it’s easier to barter for things in China when you can tell the person that “something is too expensive” in Mandarin. I’m looking forward to using these languages now that my skills have improved.
Do you have an on-campus job?
I am a French tutor for the foreign languages department. I am required to be there for open sessions each week and am there for an hour at a time to assist any students that need help with French.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve obtained while at Millersville?
My dad told me to stop worrying about the practicality of a specific degree and to do what makes me happy. Also, Dr. Susanne Nimmrichter, associate professor of German, convinced me that dual majoring in German and going for a bachelor’s degree would make me happy. By contributing to my current hopes, plans and passions, Dr. Kenneth Shields, professor of English, opened my eyes to linguistics and Dr. Andre Moine, associate professor of French, encouraged me to consider going for my Ph.D.
How has Millersville University helped you to succeed?
Once I leave Millersville, I will have the knowledge and experience that will help me to succeed in graduate school and beyond.