Charlotte Flynn

Budapest, Hungary

Majors and certificates

Italian, Linguistics, South Asian Studies Certificate

Graduation year


After graduation

The summer after graduation, I worked as a Community Literacy Intern at Literacy Network in Madison, where I planned individualized ESL lessons for community members. Since the end of August, I have been doing a year of service in Budapest, Hungary, where I work part-time in an NGO that focuses on Roma (Gypsy) Advocacy and part-time as an English assistant in a middle-high school.


My junior year of high school, I lived as an exchange student in Italy and became fairly fluent in Italian. I chose to continue studying it at UW to keep up my fluency, improve my grammar, learn more about literature and culture, and meet other people with a similar interest in the language. I first started studying Hindi freshman year as part of a FIG about musical cultures of South Asia. Since I knew UW offered so many diverse languages, I wanted to study one that I didn't think I would have many other opportunities to learn. After the FIG, I decided to continue with Hindi, because it was fascinating to learn such a different language system from what I was familiar with (English, Italian) and I really enjoyed the cultural component of the classes. As a Linguistics major, I also thought it was important to be working with these different languages to have diverse reference points for the structure of language as a whole.

How language enriched

Being able to speak Italian and Hindi has allowed me to interact with my community and experience life in Italy and India on a level that wouldn't be possible otherwise. You can lose a lot in translation, and even though you can get by mostly anywhere in English, I think learning the language of a place where you are staying shows respect for the native people and their heritage. Speaking these languages has also given me the ability to consume and appreciate music, literature, film, news, etc. in their original form. I can now get the play on words in a Bollywood movie or hear the intended rhyme of Dante's Inferno. On a personal level, learning these languages has given me new ways of expressing myself. There are things that I can communicate better in Hindi or ways to say things that I would only use in Italian. I think it has also made connections in my brain that not only make it easier to understand/learn new languages, but also see relationships in other parts of life.

Favorite memory

My Italian and Hindi classes were always some of my favorites. My Hindi classes were generally fairly small and had a family feel. We would have a lot of interaction in class, work with each other on projects, and at the end of each year, we would meet outside of class to cook food together or have a party. In the case of both Hindi and Italian, one of the best parts of class was not just learning about the language but learning in the language. It was certainly more challenging in this regard than a class in English, but it meant that you were always getting something out of it, even if you didn't like the particular lesson, and it was hard to get bored. Valued experiences

How language was maintained

Since graduation, I have continued to read books, listen to music, and watch movies in Hindi and Italian to keep up with the languages. I have also made an effort to keep in touch with friends from class and from study abroad to continue practicing conversation. In my current position, I have also had the opportunity to assist in Italian classes at the school where I assist in English classes.

Advice for others

Find fun ways to bring the language you're studying into life outside of class — listen to music, watch a movie, read an article, go to a restaurant, join a conversation table, etc. The more exposure you have to the language, the easier it will be to learn and remember. If possible, study abroad in a place where they speak the language you are studying. It's not only one of the best ways to learn, but meeting people and discovering culture through the language will give it a special significance to you.

Favorite word or phrase

Hindi: मनपसन्द [pronounced 'manpasand'] — "favorite" (literally 'what my heart likes'). Italian: in bocca al lupo — "good luck" (literally 'into the mouth of the wolf')


Meeting people and discovering culture through a language will give it a special significance to you.