About Us


Interested in studying at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC) at the University of Rochester? Check out the testimonials below to see what current students love about our programs in:


Emily Hein (Class of 2014; Chinese Major; 2013 Critical Language Scholar)

"Studying Chinese at Rochester brings many great opportunities to study the language and exercise my abilities. For example, this past summer, I participated in the Critical Language Scholarship, which took me to Qingdao, China for two months of intensive Chinese language study. In addition, I am also currently studying abroad in Beijing in order to keep improving my Chinese. That said, I always felt that learning Chinese is like working out. Without exercising every day, attaining the level I hope to reach is impossible, and the same is true for everyone else. Therefore, all I can say to those who are brave enough to take up the challenge is: '加油!'"

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Comparative Literature

Hannah Chute (Class of 2014; Comparative Literature and Harp Performance Major, with Certificate in Literary Translation Studies)

"I came to the U of R with strong skills in French, but I wanted to expand my knowledge and explore other languages and literatures. The MLC department has been the perfect place for me to pursue these goals. I am now hooked on Russian, thanks to the excellent teaching skills in that small, tight-knit department. I took a course on Tolstoy's War and Peace and, before I knew it, I was spending my summer studying abroad in St. Petersburg! MLC offers a huge range of study abroad options around the world, ranging from four-week to year-long programs. They even provide generous funding for these through scholarships such as the Mildred R. Burton Grant. I have also had the opportunity to pursue the study of international literature and world publishing through MLC's relationship with Open Letter, an on-campus publishing company that publishes exclusively literature in translation. My internship with the publisher has provided me with invaluable professional experience. I am so glad to be involved in the MLC department, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!"

Liv Earle (Class of 2014 and Take Five Scholar; Comparative Literature Major)

"For me, comparative literature always offered the idea that I could have the best of both my interests in writing and literature, and my passion for foreign language and culture. However, I have gained so much more in the cross-disciplinary approach this varied department offers: I've studied New Wave French films, gender issues in post-colonial Africa, implications of fantasy and faerie tale in the human psyche, and more diverse theory than can be offered in a single region, anywhere. Far from being a simple survey of historical literature from around the world, studying Comparative Literature allowed me to take classes in any of the Modern Languages and Cultures, meaning that there was always something interesting and thought-provoking to look forward to. I never felt my path was "locked in" or being chosen for me. Eventually I found that my studies had taken me in a completely different direction than the one I thought I would take when I first came here, and I ended up writing my honors thesis on literary and visual film applications of psychological theories of horror and the abject—something which I would have never dreamed possible without the intense and devoted intelligences of the department at large. Majoring in comparative literature has been, and will remain, one of the best decisions I feel I've ever made."

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Taylor McCabe (Class of 2014; French Major)

"Through the MLC department I have taken fascinating classes on subjects I was only discovering, such as Francophone film and Dante's Divine Comedy, and worked with excellent professors who were extremely knowledgeable about and fascinated by their subjects—professors whom I was able to get to know personally, due to their availability and small class sizes. The department encouraged me and made it easy to study abroad (often difficult or discouraged in other fields of study), an experience which I believe no college student should miss out on. And finally, through the MLC Undergrad Council I was able to meet a series of students who felt the same way, who are curious about other cultures and languages, and the way they interact in the world. Through the council I began attending French Conversation Hours, which enabled me to practice my French in a stress-free setting with other students, and ultimately to become more involved by becoming the French liaison, leading the conversation hour."

Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez (Class of 2016; Optical Engineering Major, Computer Science Minor)

"Far from being narrowly focused on the sciences, I am able to pursue French language and culture studies thanks to the U of R's open curriculum. The variety of courses in basic, intermediate and advanced levels makes it easy for me to plan ahead and avoid conflicts with my other courses. I am even planning on studying abroad in France next year! So if you would like to try something different in your college years, my best advice would be to learn a new language, or hone your skills in a language you already know! This will be prove to be advantageous in any field of study you choose to pursue."

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Lucian McMahon (Class of 2013; German and Classics Major)

"The University of Rochester's modern languages and cultures department offered me academic and experiential opportunities largely unavailable to undergraduates in other fields. A faculty staffed with passionate scholars promoted a rigorous learning atmosphere designed to foster intellectual development rather than to weed out naïve undergraduates. Instead of just another statistic in a sonorous lecture hall, students in MLC were viewed as thinkers and even scholars in their own right. Offered a wide range of courses, from French philosophy to German literature, I was able to expand my horizons in a welcoming yet intensive academic environment. Actively encouraging students to study abroad, the department granted me an unparalleled opportunity to experience German language and culture in Cologne for a year. Thanks to the University's open curriculum, the MLC department is a diverse, vibrant place where students from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds can expect both to deepen their linguistic and cultural understanding under exciting faculty and to find other congenial minds."

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Maya Dukmasova (Class of 2013; Philosophy and Religion Major)

"The Italian Studies program in the MLC department at Rochester is particularly special for its family atmosphere and wide range of academic experiences, encompassing many disciplines. At Rochester, almost all roads can eventually lead you to Italian Studies. Religion, literature, engineering, archaeology, language, history, philosophy—all of these can be studied within the Italian context. I entered into it through the course on Dante's Divine Comedy as a junior. Before I knew it, I was TAing the course, then applying to graduate school at Cambridge to study Italian architecture, then spending months in Italy learning the language, then building life-long friendships with the coordinators and students of the Arezzo Program. The commitment and passion of the professors and staff bringing Italian Studies to life are quite singular; to them, the program is personal. I think their impact is clear by the number of students who almost accidentally wander into an Italian literature or culture class and come out with a new life trajectory. Mine certainly took a series of exciting turns since that fateful semester in 2010. I can only encourage every student at Rochester to consider taking a class through the Italian Studies program, and especially those who may find themselves in a wood of uncertainty in the middle of their college journey."

Ernesto Frausto (Class of 2014; International Relations Major)

"As someone who came to college not exactly sure what direction I wanted to take in my education, the Italian program of the MLC Department helped guide me in a great direction. Professors in the Italian program encouraged me to study abroad, specifically to study abroad with the Arezzo program. The program is one of a kind in its curriculum. Students get instructed both in and out of the classroom. The courses take you onsite to several notable locations within Italy. With all expenses paid, this was a real money saver! On top of this, credits thus obtained do not need to be transferred as all courses are UR offerings. My experiences in Arezzo are among those that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I would recommend this program to all who are considering studying abroad!"

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Jasre' Ellis (Class of 2015; Japanese Major)

"I came to the University of Rochester specifically in order to major in Japanese, and I have not been disappointed by the department since I've enrolled. I've had so much fun learning in both my Japanese language classes with Shino-sensei and Tamate-sensei, and in my culture classes with Professor Pollack. They're all really fantastic professors who you can tell like to interact with their students and are very open to giving their students as much help as they need inside and outside of the classroom. They're all very approachable, not only as professors but as people, and it's really great to have conversations with them that are not purely about academics. I feel like I've learned a lot from all of my Japanese classes, not only because the teaching styles of the professors make it easy to learn but because I'm very engaged and interested in what they have to say. I'm very happy to be a student of the professors in this department!"

Valerie Mueller (Class of 2014; Japanese and American Sign Language Major)

"The Japanese department has allowed me to explore my interest in the fascinating language and culture of Japan. The faculty members are encouraging and excited for you to succeed. In studying such a nuance language like Japanese, it is great to be able to ask questions directly to the Japanese faculty, because they can give you an honest, firsthand answer. I was also able to study abroad in Nagoya, Japan. The MLC department's courses had me plenty prepared to step foot in an actual Japanese-speaking country. I was able to confidently apply everything I'd learned in the UR classroom to real-life conversations with native speakers. Also, in a science and research-dominated school, the MLC department offers great outlets to express some creativity and explore the humanities, as well as an environment to meet people who have similar interests. The class sizes are small, so it is easy to make friends who share your passion for languages and cultures."

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Russian/Russian Studies

Gabrielle Cornish (Class of 2013; Russian Studies and Music Major; 2013–14 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant)

"Entering college, I never would have guessed that I would become a Russian studies major. In fact, I had pretty firmly decided that I would avoid taking a language altogether. However, when a number of students on my freshman hall enrolled in Russian 101 and expressed how wonderful the professors were, I decided to explore the Russian department's offerings. I instantly realized why my friends loved their classes so much, and what started as an experiment quickly turned into a second major. The cultural, political, and historical electives within the department indubitably helped me mature and grow as a student, a thinker, and a person. Political courses afforded me a unique perspective when thinking and discussing world politics, while literature courses made me question my own ethical, moral and personal beliefs. The skills I gained through language courses allowed me to study abroad—twice—and immerse myself in a unique and diverse culture that proved to be some of the most exciting and formative experiences of my college career. Now, embarking on a yearlong adventure to Russia as a Fulbright ETA, I can't imagine my life without Russian, and I highly encourage others to take a course in the department. Covering such a wide range of topics, subjects and interests, there's something that will engage everyone."

Madeleine Klingler (Class of 2013; Russian Major, Linguistics Minor; 2013–14 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant)

"I can comfortably say that the first day of Russian 101 as a freshman completely changed the course of my life. Everyone was so confused—myself included—and I felt the challenge immediately. Unlike my peers, there was no scramble to find the perfect major before the deadline because it was decided from day one: I was going to study Russian. My professors passed on the contagious energy and enthusiasm that comes with experiencing Russia, and after two years I was ready for a semester in St. Petersburg. Two more years, and I would be packing my bags for a full year in Russia, this time teaching English as a Fulbright ETA. The Russian program at U of R is a buried treasure that more people need to know about."

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John Hinkel (Class of 2014; Spanish and Computer Science Major)

"One thing I really like about modern languages and cultures is that I have had the freedom to make the Spanish major my own and really tailor it to my interests. By being able to take whichever class I wanted throughout my undergraduate career, MLC allowed me to fit a study abroad experience into my program of study. I spent five months in Madrid, Spain living with a host family, taking two classes and working at a computer technology company called Lextrend. Since my Spanish classes were very focused on how to properly write a paper and analyze literature in Spanish, I was very well prepared. Also, since my classes at the U of R were completely in Spanish, I developed an increased level of comfort with the language that helped with my internship. I had to talk with my boss about translations from Spanish to English I was doing. My Spanish classes at the U of R really helped me prepare for the translation tasks because I learned how to take my thoughts and properly convey them in another language."

Victoria Zhou (Class of 2014; Spanish and Biology Major)

"The literature based classes I have taken throughout the past three years in the MLC department—from more traditional topics like Early Hispanic Texts to new, innovative topics like Postcards from Spain—pushed me to focus on concepts in Spanish rather than on strict language learning. I have learned how to articulate my thoughts and opinions in Spanish in response to literature, film and art alike, and have learned the art of crafting a clear and concise argument in a paper. These are no easy feats in a second language, but the Spanish department and professors have guided me along all the way. Last semester, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and built off of my coursework at U of R learning about Spanish film. I had the opportunity to take a course on Argentine film, as well as other courses in history and even biology—all taught 100 percent in Spanish. Outside of the classroom, I got to use my Spanish in everyday life more than I ever have before—both an enriching and challenging experience. As a first-time Spanish TA, I have found myself reflecting on my own experiences as a language learner and have learned how to apply my experiences to my teaching. I honestly love teaching recitations because it gives me the chance to speak in only Spanish for two hours every week. I get to be a part in the language advancement of students who will hopefully one day appreciate the amazing experience of communication in a second language, as I have."

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