In fall of 2006, as I was just a freshman not even trying to pretend to know what I was doing, I started to think about studying abroad in Germany. At the time, I was studying French poetry, but the programs in Paris weren't what I wanted and if I couldn't have Paris, I didn't want France. Switzerland was an option, but what looked really intriguing was Tübingen and Freiburg. They only required two years of German and involved starting something entirely new, something I would have a chance at doing right from the very beginning. I was discouraged because my French skills weren't at the top like they had been in high school, and didn't seem to be improving.
So at the back of my mind that first semester was the growing idea of starting German, the language of my ancestors (although my Irish heritage beats the German 5-1). When I was younger, though, all I knew was that my last name was German, my aunt and cousins lived in Germany, my dad cooked us spätzle sometimes and said schlaf gut to me when he turned off my light and closed my door. I was German and someday I would speak the language and visit everyone I knew there.
Improving my French would have made sense. But after six years, I was sick of it, and when I had a gaping hole in my schedule for my first winter semester, I signed up for Intensiv Deutsch Eins (and removed Gen Chem from my schedule). I didn't plan on a German major then (just like I didn't plan on completely ruling out biology), but I did know that sometime in the next few years, I would live in Deutschland.