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Language learning while following a career?
Tags: career
December 26, 2011
Toronto, Canada
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December 26, 2011
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Hi, so I'm 16 and this question will centre around how to combine my love of languages with my fascination of science. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and studied in the French immersion program there, so I'm pretty advanced in my French, but I've also studied 2 years of Spanish and 1 year of Portuguese. Right now, I'm on exchange in Italy, been here almost 3 months and, amusingly, am practically fluent. Its been a wonderful experience studying not just the language but the culture, and it was really reassuring to find out that learning another language (besides one I studied from 5 years old) yet its left me in a bit of a conundrum. As happy as I'm sure you are travelling the world non-stop and picking up jobs here and there, I'd really like to know what happened to Engineering? I mean, all you do is odds and ends jobs which, for me, wouldn't make up a very fulfilling life. I'm strongly considering going to Uni for neuroscience, and its not exactly the type of career you can put half-effort into. Sorry for the long introduction, ahaha, but basically, I'm just wondering if anyone has advice about this. I mean, is Benny taking a break...or given up on Engineering...or what? Should I double major? Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you. smile

December 26, 2011


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November 25, 2011
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Well, I'm currently a Computer Engineering undergraduate student here in Brazil, and I'm following both with the university and my language studies. I treat them as a hobby, but I put a strong effort into it. Sometimes it may be hard to conciliate, specially during my exams periods, but it's been working for me so far!

I don't know what I'm going to it after my university, and I definitely love languages more than engineering....but.. I must have some income, and I guess my languages won't be useful for now in this situation, except communicating in English during work or ornamenting my CV.

Native:            Advanced: English (American)       Intermediate: Russian       Beginner:       Wishlist:   http://russoparabrasileiros.wordpress.com/  Feel free to PM me!
December 27, 2011
Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.



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July 15, 2011
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Hello May! Thanks for your introduction. 

To some up your questions it all depends on the individual and what fulfills them. To you having the security of a full-time job might be important to you but a thorn in the side of another. Some people thrive not knowing where they will be five months from now and love healthy doses of anxiety once in a while. As you can see Benny loves what he does; if he didn't he wouldn't be doing it. 

As for what you study in university I cannot help you too much there because I am 25 years old and don't have a degree. The years I would have spent in university I spent traveling the world, summiting mountain peaks, rock-climbing and working odd jobs in order to make these experiences happen. Sure, not having a degree has created many inconveniences for me but I wouldn't trade the life I've lived for anything else. I'm working towards becoming a certified wilderness EMT and mountaineering guide because it's what I love to do. Working a desk job just seems daunting but rescuing climbers from a glacier at 6000m grabs my attention like nothing else; it isn't a "stable" job but it still makes me happy and will give me the opportunity to work anywhere in the world while I study languages.

Most university graduates that I have met over the years never actually use their degrees. A friend of mine owns a systems engineering firm and he was a Spanish major. I've met mechanical engineers who work as chefs and journalist majors that are full time music teachers. From what I've seen it doesn't always matter what you study. What most employers care about is your experience and the fact that you've committed yourself for a few years to obtain a goal. 


I hope that I've given you some ideas. You're 16 and will most likely change your mind several times in the next few years. When I was 16 I wanted to be a musical theater major but now I am going into languages and mountaineering. Life is odd sometimes no? :)

Learning to fluency:  
There will definitely be more that follow!
December 28, 2011
Dublin, Ireland

Experienced Language Hacker

Forum Posts: 231
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July 22, 2011
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Kevinpost said:

To some up your questions it all depends on the individual and what fulfills them. To you having the security of a full-time job might be important to you but a thorn in the side of another. Some people thrive not knowing where they will be five months from now and love healthy doses of anxiety once in a while. As you can see Benny loves what he does; if he didn't he wouldn't be doing it. 


This, exactly! In my case I am sort of managing to combine university experience with the odd jobs and ability to be wherever I want at any one time. I studied media studies, photography and sound production... so I am able to be location independent and still be a graphic designer/photo retoucher at the same time, and even throw in other things too like video editing, translation and proof reading. A steady job and the dull monotony of what most people consider a proper career would kill me, frankly! :)

Native:   Gaeilge,  English Studies:  Polish On Hold:  Spanish Next:  Italian
Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
December 28, 2011
Beijing, China


Forum Posts: 33
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September 14, 2011
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I think that this blog/forum, understandably, attracts a lot of people who either live or aspire to a rather nomadic lifestyle.  That's great if it makes them happy, but don't get the mistaken impression that more "settled" people can't learn languages too.


I would recommend majoring in Neuroscience or whatever other field interests you, but also taking language classes or just studying on your own, whatever you prefer.  You should also definitely take advantage of the study abroad programs at your university. The nice thing about foreign language is that if you choose to pursue a language-related career, your language skills will speak for themselves in most cases, even if you don't have a degree in the language. 


In my case I was majoring in something that I wanted to do as my career (changed my mind later but that's another story) and also taking language classes and I studied abroad.  Eventually I had enough language credits that I turned it into a 2nd major in foreign languages.  Now I am headed to China to work, but I intend to stay there in a steady position for a while.  I'm not very interested in constant travel and odd jobs either.


Basically, to sum up my long ramble, you can successfully learn languages no matter what career/major choice you make, so do what interests you!

Native: English Speaks: Mandarin (HSK 5), German Next up:  Indonesian, Portuguese
January 9, 2012


Forum Posts: 32
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October 22, 2011
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Hi maysunrain, congratz on your accomplishments on languages.


One trend that I can foresee for the next few years is the use of home office IT jobs. Many people in the fields of engineering work as software developers, testers and project managers.

Sites such as oDesk and eLance offer a chance to get an online job, meaning you can literally work from anywhere in the globe where there's reliable internet connection. As a matter of fact I'm aiming for that right now :)



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