Learning a New Language

February 2, 2021
Roberto Hasbun

As part of the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree, undergraduate students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a second language. This can be done by either testing out through AP tests or SAT subject tests (if applicable) or taking classes in that language for three of four semesters at Princeton. While I was already fluent in English and Spanish, I decided to take Italian my first-year and sophomore years. 

Language classes at Princeton are small and you get to know your professor—in my Italian 101 class, we were only nine students. Classes took place from Monday to Friday and I really enjoyed learning from my peers as we tackled learning a new language as a team. I was forced out of my comfort zone as the professor would randomly call on us to speak in Italian, sing a song or read a script. We also got to watch movies and learn about Italian culture once we learned the basics.

One of the highlights of pursuing Italian at Princeton was going to watch an Italian Opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. We all took a bus to the city and all of the expenses were covered. I was amazed by the interior architecture of the opera house and felt grateful for the opportunity of going on this trip.

After a few semesters of Italian, I can proudly say that I can read and understand Italian. In fact, I recently visited my friend who goes to school in Milan and got to put my Italian skills to practice. Moreover, learning Italian allowed me to connect with my family ancestry, as my grandmother is from Italy. Learning Italian has opened my horizons in many ways.

If you are a prospective student worried about the language requirement, don’t sweat it! Language classes are one of the best at Princeton and you can choose from  Arabic, French, German, Hebrew or Wolof, to name a few.