On the window of the TU language and literature office is an old Czech saying, “As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being.” Learning a foreign language unleashes a unifying connection to other cultures and other ways of thinking. No TU student embodies this idea more than recent TU alumna Nina Bulling (BSIBL ’18).
With a German mother and an American father, Nina grew up in Germany, but in 10th grade, she was ready for a grand adventure. “I decided to come to Oklahoma for a year just to meet my family and experience the American culture because that is a part of me,” Bulling said.
Bulling left Germany for Tulsa, and she found a second home. When it was time to look at colleges, TU was top on her list. “When I came to TU, I knew I wanted to get a degree in international business and Spanish. TU offers a joint International Business Language program, which is one reason I came to the university, and the other one is the low student-professor ratio,” she said.
Bulling had a goal of working for a multinational corporation, and she knew that learning another foreign language would make her more marketable.
While studying abroad in Barcelona, she acclimated quickly to the welcoming culture. “They are a very outgoing people,” she said. “I don’t know if that is a general thing, but they aren’t party animals. It’s more like: ‘Let’s go have a beer and some tapas.’”
Not only does Bulling have family in Germany and America she also has a host family in Spain. “I stayed with a host mom, and she was amazing,” she said. “I have an open invitation so I can come back whenever.”
That is the power of learning a new language and embracing foreign experiences. Students develop meaningful relationships around the globe. While studying the author Vicente Blasco Ibáñez with Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature Chris Anderson, Bulling describes learning to read literature through the lens of a different society.
“I love the way he teaches his class. I’ve taken literature classes that involve a lot of outside reading, and then you come to class and discuss the chapters and themes. He expects us to do most of the talking,” Bulling said. “Classes were always super insightful because sometimes reading through the novels, some of the things I didn’t catch on.”
Even when students are not abroad, they have opportunities to immerse themselves in a language at TU. The Spanish club meets every Monday for an hour during lunch to practice Spanish. “Little things like that make a huge difference not only in the learning experience but also applying what you learned in the classroom to normal life,” Bulling said.
Her dedication to studying languages and embracing new ideas landed Bulling that dream job. In September, she will relocate to Europe for a job with Hilti Corporation, a Liechtenstein multinational company that develops, manufactures and markets products for the construction, building maintenance and mining industries.
From Germany to TU to Spain and now Austria, Bulling’s desire to embrace new ideas and languages paved the way for a bright future.
“Languages allow you to connect with people on a different level,” she said. “It’s much more intimate and personable, and it makes you a more open-minded and worldly person.”