French? Why would you study that?

As a graduate student studying French, one often receives some interesting responses.

When I was an undergraduate working on my Bachelor’s in French, I usually would cringe when someone new at a gathering or church event would come up and try to start a conversation with the question:

“So, you’re in college? What’s your major?”

I suppose, the response they were probably expecting was something like nursing or education maybe a science of some sort. I would respond with:

“Oh, I’m a French major.” *smile*

From here, there was usually one of two responses:

“Wow! That is really neat! I’ve never heard of someone doing that before! So, what are your future plans?”


“French?! What in the world are you going to do with that? Teach?” As if teaching was the only “doomed” existence for someone with this kind of degree.

I usually responded with some statistics as well as how much I loved the language and how useful it is in the world. Though my living in Texas usually sparks the next question:

“So, why don’t you just study Spanish? That seems like it would be more useful.”

Yes, maybe around here it’s more useful to speak Spanish, but French is spoken on five continents. Not putting down the Spanish majors because I do have several friends who are, but I think French majors should get a little of the spotlight occasionally since Spanish does seem to usually get most of the funding and attention.

Then, I started graduate school…

It seems that if you then have the audacity to then continue these studies of French into graduate school, the questions only intensify.  Studying French in graduate school simply means that I am trying to reinforce my skills and delve even deeper into the language and the culture. It may seem crazy, but I do love it….even though it seems to be slowly killing me. Believe me either my exhaustion from paper writing is going to do me in or the constant guzzling of coffee will. But, people are still curious which is great, however, I often feel a little self-conscience when I don’t know the answer to one question every single one seems to ask.

So, let’s take a look at those same questions again with the viewpoint of grad school.

“So, you’re in college? What’s your major?”

“I’m actually a graduate student working on my M.A. in French.”

The following statements/questions are usually along these lines:

“Really? I didn’t know you could even go to grad school for that!

“What’s an M.A.? And, what do you use it for?”

“Why didn’t you study Spanish?”

“That’s ummm…different. How in the world is that going to be useful?” *raises eyebrows*

Oh, and my personal favorite which was actually indirectly asked through one of my brother’s professors upon learning that I was a graduate student in French:

“So, is your sister in the ‘Occupy’ movement? ‘Cause she’s probably not going to find a job with that kind of major.”

Yeah, let’s just say I was about ready to fire back with–with–with an essay when this was reported to me.

However, crazy the questions, they always end up at the same place with a question along these lines which I was actually even asked today:

“What are your future plans?”

Frankly, my friends, the answer to that question has yet to be determined. God is a great God has lead me thus far and I know He’ll continue to lead me to know how to use the knowledge He has blessed me with. I am addicted to learning, so I’m very tempted to continue my education for a doctorate, but I will wait and see His will.

My point in all this?

Please don’t be too judgmental about what others are studying. Ask questions, but ask them in a way that shows you’re truly interested not that you’re ready to see how flimsy of a response the other will come up with. I know I’ve been guilty of mentally putting down other majors, but then I realize how much it annoys me when people put down what I am passionate about. We all have different gifts and passions. Not everyone needs to go into the most common fields. God has a plan for each of us.


4 responses to “French? Why would you study that?

  1. I’m amused by the article and received similar criticism along the same vein for my major in Psychology, even from the statistical psych professor. Apparently the felt that only purests should be in the major and if I wasn’t going to go on to get my Masters he saw no reason for me to bother with having it as a Bachelors. Nevermind a degree is still a LITTLE useful for those pesky job applications that require at least a bachelors to even bother applying.

    On a different topic I appreciate your choice of WordPress theme of Grunge. It is great, I used the same on my blog, I think your coffee beans as background is creative. 🙂

    • Thanks for the response! I’m a little surprised that a psychology major would have the same problems. I know some psychology majors actually. Many of the ones I meet seem to start doing a psychoanalysis (if that’s a word) of me nearly as soon as we start talking. haha!

      I’ve switched themes more times than I can count trying to get one that fit my personality. I like Grunge after I made a few tweaks of my own. 😉

      • Truly, I try to avoid analyzing any of my friends/acquaintances, but I do find it handy when applying my general knowledge to group psychology type situations– like morale of the group being affected by management decisions, ramifications, and how ‘allowing’ poor behavior to continue by giving it positive reinforcement, even if only a ‘one-time’ concession really helps lock that behavior in.

        The fun thing is even if you identify something people are reluctant to change their behavior, it’s never THEM that is causing this ripple and they won’t break the chain. I joke that my nick-name should be Cassandra, I can usually guess when things are going to go side-ways before they happen, and then the warnings fall on deaf ears.

        Oh, and my best-friend’s little sister was a French Major Lit Minor and talked about trying to get a job in a consulate, but ended up teaching instead. Aim high and go for it, I think, like with Psych, if you don’t get your Masters now-a-days you’ll have to find some thing in the more generic sector of employment. I work for an insurance company- not your typical ‘psychie’ business. 🙂

        Good luck with your blogging, I use it as stress relief by finding fun/weird stories for people to read. TTFN.

  2. Pingback: Do You Dream in French? and Other Common Questions | The Quest of a Coffee Addict

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s