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Deciding on my Major

January 21, 2010

For over a year now my sights have been set on studying Transkulturelle Kommunikation (Translation and Interpretation) at the University of Vienna. You study in three languages: your native language, and two working languages, one of which has to be German if your native language is not German.

Now that it’s nearly a month before I start studying and I am finishing up the application process, when it came to filling out my “Angaben zum beabsichtigtem Studium” (Proposed field of study) I started to write the “T” of “Transkulturelle Kommunikation”, but then stopped. Don’t get me wrong, I would be VERY happy to study Transkulturelle Kommunikation, but I just want to make sure there isn’t anything else I would be REALLY REALLY happy to study. (or maybe I am just afraid of the entry test I would have to take in March that appears to be incredibly hard!)

One thing I know is that I absolutely want to study something to do with languages. When I took my first German class in University nearly three years ago, it was the first thing to really spark my interest and motivate me. It made me excited to go to class. My “problem” now is, there are a few interesting options at the University of Vienna, and I am not sure exactly what is the absolute best for me!

I have been thinking for the last year that I want to be a translator or interpreter, which I would still very much enjoy and has the benefit of being a mobile job that has to do with languages (living in three countries in the past three years has made me realize that my life is a bit unpredictable, and it seems to be working quite well for Benny!), but I am also thinking I would like to be a language teacher, or write books about languages and language learning, or write for a magazine like Deutsch Perfekt, or work at a company like Hueber or Langenscheidt and make language learning materials, or get a PhD and be a professor of languages or linguistics. (Maybe I could do it all?) 🙂

I was thinking earlier that I was going to do a double major of Transkulturelle Kommunikation and Romanistik, which is the study of the romance languages. I posted on the student council forum of the Translation department asking if this was a good idea, and someone recommended that I not do that because it might be like studying the same thing twice. (Well, someone else wrote that it would be find because the more language study the better, haha.) But they mentioned that to improve my future job outlook as a translator or interpreter that I should pick a second major in a specific field like medicine or engineering so that I could be a specialized translator and be more desirable to employers. While this does sound reasonable, I don’t really have any other interests besides languages right now which is making me think that I should study something other than translation? Or maybe not? Or maybe pick a different language other than Spanish because every translator and their mother uses English, German or Spanish? Argh.

But I also think I would like to stay here in Austria for as long as possible, and something is telling me that trying to work as a non-native German teacher in a German-speaking country might not exactly go so well! While being a translator would work out better…

Here are my options:

Deutsche Philologie (German Philology – study of German language and literature)
Romanistik (Romance studies – study of Romance languages and cultures)
Transkulturelle Kommunikation (Translation and Interpretation)
Sprachwissenschaft (Linguistics)
Bildungswissenschaft (Education science)

Possible combos:
– Deutsche Philologie und Sprachwissenschaft
– Transkulturelle Kommunikation und Sprachwissenschaft
– Romanistik und Sprachwissenschaft
– Deutsche Philologie und Pädagogik

Translation and Linguistics could be cool?

This post is mostly just for me to get my thoughts out of my brain and to actually see the pssible combinations on “paper” and think about which is best for me, but if anyone has any imput or experience with studying something language related then please leave a comment!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2010 9:26 am

    Linguistics is typically a lot of fancy words used to describe the various properties of different languages. It might be interesting by itself, but it typically doesn’t help much with learning new languages, at least if you consider the number of monolingual linguistics professors. Learning *about* languages is different than learning languages themselves 😉

    It might still be really interesting, but make sure it’s what you think it is before you start.

  2. January 22, 2010 5:07 pm

    If you want to be location independent and also like translating stuff, I’d go for the Transkulturelle Kommunikation major.

    If you fail that, you can also get a degree in teaching English, next to studying another language. That way you’ll have work and are more less location independent as well.

  3. January 22, 2010 6:07 pm

    You know there is no right answer.

    I came across a blogpost a few days ago ( with an interesting conclusion that it is indeed the best to learn one big language and one unique language for your career. I like the idea. The article also suggested Polish as the best option but I don’t think it has to be. I think knowing the Romance languages is indeed no surprise anymore and it might be a good idea to learn something different.

    As for being interested in things, well, too bad. Am I sure you would be interested in a lot of things besides languages but you haven’t them yet.

  4. January 22, 2010 10:44 pm

    Thanks so much for your replies! Unfortunately they didn’t all transfer over to
    I am still thinking about it but I think I am going to stick with the original plan of Transkulturelle Kommunikation, but I don’t know what I want to take in addition as a second major, and I DO want to do a second major, because it is free! haha

  5. February 4, 2010 10:10 am

    Terracentro Spanish School and Cultural Center in Quito Ecuador South America.
    If you are looking for the right place to learn Spanish while absorbing the culture, history, and traditions of Ecuador. We make sure you won´t lose time or money studying endless lists of verb conjugations or learning meaningless phrases; with the support of experienced, professional educators, you willlearn the language as a means for travel, business, enjoyment, and understanding the Latin culture

  6. May 8, 2010 10:09 am

    I know this was months ago, but I thought I’ll help a little.
    What about an Asian language, such as Japanese for an example. Does your college have that major? Or Asian studies program or something?
    And as for non-language major, how about business? Suppose you’d like to be an entrepreneur perhaps?

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