Language student headed to Germany on scholarship

by | Feb 11, 2015

Sophomore Seth Huntington will study abroad in Germany thanks to the St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister Cities Language Immersion Scholarship.
Sophomore German major Seth Huntington is toasted in the German Culture Center at UMSL. He will study abroad in Germany thanks to the St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister Cities Language Immersion Scholarship he was awarded this month.

Sophomore German major Seth Huntington is toasted in the German Culture Center at UMSL. He will study abroad in Germany thanks to the St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister Cities Language Immersion Scholarship he was awarded this month. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Back in eighth grade, Seth Huntington was faced with a life-changing decision: Which classes would he take for his first semester at Ritenour High School in St. Louis?

“I saw German in the course book, and I was like, ‘That sounds really interesting to me,’” Huntington said. “Six years later, here I am majoring in it.”

German isn’t only his major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, but also his ticket abroad. Huntington’s strong command of the language won him the St. Louis-Stuttgart Sister Cities Language Immersion Scholarship. It will allow him to attend an immersion program at the Goethe-Institute in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany. The four-week program begins in August and requires him to speak German and only German during his stay.

“I’m really excited to be in an atmosphere that is completely different from what I’m used to, to really immerse myself in a different culture,” Huntington said.

He grew up in Overland, in north St. Louis County, and hasn’t ever been to Germany, although his interest in the country and language has deep roots. Both sides of his family are of German descent, one of the reasons he chose to learn the language.

“I wanted to maybe grasp some of the culture I felt like we lost,” he said.

Now he’ll have the chance to experience that culture in person.

“It’s such an extraordinary opportunity for him,” said Larry Marsh, coordinator of the German Culture Center at UMSL.

When Huntington’s not in class, he’s assisting at the center.

“Seth has an excellent ear and pronunciation for the language,” Marsh said.

It was something that Marsh immediately admired about Huntington and one of the many reasons he took him on as his assistant. And even while Huntington seems to have a knack for pronunciation, he readily admits the focus and importance he places on it.

“Whenever I speak another language I want to sound as fluent as possible, so I always try to pronounce things as well as I can, even if it makes me feel silly. In high school, I would actually go home and just sit in my room and go ‘ooo’ to practice the ‘ü’ sound.”

When asked how he feels speaking German, he’ll tell you that he can turn the switch to “German mode” and that all his thoughts are in the language. He says it’s fun too.

After Huntington completes the language immersion program, he will stay in Germany to continue his study abroad for a full year. He plans on attending Leipzig University and will continue to complete upper-level coursework for his major, including a couple of literature courses. He intends to graduate from UMSL in May 2016.

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