We conducted an interview with two of our current majors to ask them about why they decided to pursue European Studies. The transcript is below.
Mitchell Pope, left, and Philipp Hauser, right
I: Please introduce yourselves!
MP: "My name is Mitchell Pope. I am 23, I am just going to be graduating this May, and I’m a European Studies Major with a minor in World Politics. I was born in Salt Lake City and moved to Nashville when I was 8 years old, so I’m essentially a Nashville native – I consider myself one. I am also Mormon – that’s a big part of my identity. My European Studies focus is Franco-German, along with Political Science, focusing on Islamism and conflict management."
PH: "I’m Philipp Hauser. I’m a 20-year-old junior, my majors are European Studies and Law, History, and Society, and my minor is German. I grew up in north Alabama, but my mother’s an immigrant; my father’s German-American, and so I’m a mixture of German and Greek and – generally European, so I’m pretty interested in European Studies. I traveled to Berlin this summer with the Vanderbilt in Berlin program, which affected my studies quite a bit."
I: How did you hear about this major? What made you want to take it in lieu of other similar-leaning majors?
MP: “I learned about it simply by searching through the majors offered on the Vanderbilt website. European Studies stood out to me because, at the time I was considering it, I was taking a leave of absence to do my mission in Austria and Germany for my church. I spent two years there and, after having been an engineer for a year, I quickly found out that that was not the path I wanted to go down, so I ditched STEM for the humanities. My mission experiences gave me a lot of opportunities to interact with German and Austrian people on a day-to-day basis, and because I was doing missionary work, a lot of it involved interacting with refugees and immigrants, so I got to know a lot of people from the Middle East and Africa. I just came away from that experience thinking, “I’d love to keep learning and using languages and enjoying European culture and, if I can, to do something to help people solve problems,” because I saw a lot of problems that needed to be solved.”
PH: “Similarly, I was scrounging through the major list and came across European Studies. I was trying to decide what to do – I was in Classics and thought being a professor at a relatively young age or trying to be an archaeologist in the field would be difficult, so I looked for something else, and European Studies stuck out as an interdisciplinary major that encapsulated a lot of my interests. I grew up speaking Spanish and English, and have studied Greek and French, and I’m studying German here at Vanderbilt, so the language focus was really strong in this major. Also, my mother’s an immigrant, which is a really relevant topic for Europe today, which also attracted me to the major.”
I: So what has been your experience with the major so far? Why would you recommend this major to others?
MP: "As far as recommending this major, I would really applaud the interdisciplinary aspect that you have. You can draw from so many things – from political science, from English, from French, from German, from philosophy, I mean – there are courses from so many fields that satisfy European Studies credits, and it’s really, really incredible to have so many options available. For me, I really leaned heavily into the French, German, political science, and history courses, and I thought those were really fun and enjoyable, and I also really enjoyed the EUS courses offered. I really enjoy that you can go reaching for knowledge from almost any field."
PH: "Yeah, exactly. It’s sort of a joint humanities-social science major with a lot of options, and I really appreciated that as well, especially because it seems, with globalization and the way job sectors are changing, that it’s becoming more and more relevant – having this sort of broader knowledge. I really appreciate the language focus – I hope that it doesn’t go away – because I think it’s really important for European Studies to learn at least one, if not multiple languages."
MP: "And on that note, I appreciate the option that you can either get really good at one language, or you can take two languages up to intermediate level instead."
PH: "I do like that as well. Language should be focused on, I think. I like the thesis as well; I think it’s really helpful, especially for an interdisciplinary major, to have something to show for it, since we’re not held to specific standards."
I: How do you think this major will help you accomplish what you want to do in the future?
MP: "I like having multiple possibilities for my future, and so at this point, I am still undecided on what I want to do moving forward. I have the option of doing graduate work, I have the option of applying for governmental positions directly, I have a lot of different options – I could even pursue an MBA in international business. There are a lot of things I could do with this major, and I love the options that it gives me. For me, I think it’s really going to help me achieve my goals looking forward – I want to go get a master’s in international politics, and I’ll have a very solid foundation and wide breadth of knowledge going forward in history, in politics, in language, in Islamic studies, in European culture, and so all of those aspects will make me a much stronger candidate, I believe, for positions, for instance if I wanted to work in the U.N., or for the Department of State, or something else in those fields. And with the thesis that’s attached to the major, that’s a really strong asset for when you’re applying for those positions and for masters’ programs."
PH: "I completely agree. There are so many possibilities in this area, (which encapsulates many areas, so to speak.) It’s important to have those options. I’m interested in working for governments, NGOs, think tanks, grad school – I’m well prepared for all of them, with this major. It’s worked out perfectly for me."
Pope and Hauser at the Max Kade Center