Name: Julianna Poole
Language: Modern Icelandic
Location of Study: Rekjavík, Iceland
Program of Study: Summer Course in Modern Icelandic
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures
A brief personal bio:
I am a first-year graduate student in the History and Philosophy of Science Ph.D. program. I studied microbiology at Ohio State University as an undergraduate, and I received a master’s degree in molecular biology from Princeton University. Coming here to Notre Dame, I moved from the biological and medical sciences to the history of science and medicine, focusing on medicine as it was practiced and understood in medieval Scandinavia.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
Through the SLA grant, I am able to participate in the Summer Course in Modern Icelandic, a language immersion program held in Reykjavík, Iceland, by the University of Iceland and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. For my dissertation, I plan to study the history of medicine in medieval Iceland, focusing on medical texts written in Old Norse, which is also known as Old Icelandic, and the medical practices and practitioners described in the Old Norse sagas. Knowledge of Modern Icelandic will be essential for my course work and later my dissertation because much of the current research on Old Norse texts and on the history of medieval Icelandic medicine is done in Modern Icelandic. Additionally, as many of my future colleagues will speak Modern Icelandic and many conferences in the field of Old Norse studies are held in Iceland, the ability to communicate in Modern Icelandic will be invaluable for my career after graduate school.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
Through the program I hope to become conversationally competent. The program will provide the essentials for me to feel comfortable holding a conversation about history and culture in Icelandic with native speakers, a skill which will be indispensable for my dissertation research and my career after graduate school. Additionally, I plan to practice my reading in order to increase the speed and ease with which I read academic papers written in Icelandic, another skill I need for my research. Finally, I plan to learn more about Icelandic culture by meeting and getting to know Icelanders. I hope to meet people with whom I can keep in touch after the summer, allowing me to maintain my language skills and continue learning about Icelandic culture.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- By the end of the summer, I will be able to converse in Icelandic with native speakers on historical and cultural topics such as the Old Norse sagas, which are well-known and highly regarded in Iceland, and historical figures and events.
- By the end of the summer, I will be able to read academic papers in Icelandic with greater ease. I will have the necessary vocabulary and grammatical skills to read Icelandic without constant referrals to grammar textbooks and dictionaries.
- By the end of the summer, I will be able to interact with Icelandic colleagues in both linguistically and culturally appropriate ways.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
In order to maximize my experience in Iceland, I will participate in an independent study of Icelandic with Professor Chris Abram here at Notre Dame before I leave. This independent study will allow me to practice my Icelandic so that I truly grasp the basics of the language before I begin the immersion program. Then, when I arrive in Reykjavík, I will be ready to converse immediately with native speakers and learn more complicated language structures. Once I am in Iceland, I plan to use Icelandic exclusively both with Icelanders and with my classmates, and I intend to seek out conversations and interactions with native speakers, finding Icelandic friends with whom I can practice.