German Studies: The power of words

Luka Plevnik was Carinthian champion in freeskiing (winter season 16/17) and lives by the motto: Why boring when it can be exciting? The German Studies student comes from Josipdol, a small village near Maribor. He fell in love with Klagenfurt during a semester abroad and decided to stay. Since then, he has been studying the master’s programme German Studies and uses the cities location not only to pursue his favourite winter sports, but also to go hiking or travel through the Alps-Adriatic region. In this interview, he tells us why he finds the German language so exciting and why he has had to laugh out loud several times in the library at night.

Was it clear from the very beginning what you want to study or were you torn between different study programmes?

Right after my school leaving examination, I did not know exactly what I wanted to study and was torn between Social Sciences and German Studies. I decided on Social Sciences and then realised that German Studies suited me better. German is not my mother tongue, but it has always fascinated me. I wanted to take a closer look at the language and its history. I appreciate not only the phonetics, but also the poets and writers who made this language great.

Tell us a memorable AAU anecdote!

As a student of cultural studies, I spend a lot of time at the university library. And if you are a night owl, like me, this can be after 11 pm. But not everyone is familiar with the university library at these late hours. For example, many still do not know that we have a 24-hour library where the lighting goes out for reasons of economy and can only be switched on again by movement. Then, when the lights go out and you look at the faces of people who are in panic, trying to finish their work because they think the library is closing: Priceless. This is what fear looks like! It is a bit mean but also funny. Of course, I get up and go to the motion detector and the lights come on again. To see the relief on their faces is also something for the heart.

Which subjects do you like and why?

I find the elective subjects, whether tied or free, particularly good. What I like about the tied electives is that you can specialise and get to know completely different sides of your studies. Two semesters ago, I attended a lecture called Digital Humanities. It was very interesting. It dealt with digitalisation and humanities and showed how important study programmes in the humanities are for the future.

The free electives allowed me to deepen my individual interests. This can be something completely new. Technology, business, perhaps a language course. You can choose all sorts of things and have various options to combine.

Has your view of the world changed through your studies?

A little bit. I think a lot more about things. I have learned that words can do a lot of damage, but they can also give a lot of strength and courage. Now I look at things more critically and think before I say something. That would not hurt some people in leading positions in the country either.

How do you explain the contents of your studies to your friends?

I study German Studies. Others: “That’s boring.” Me: “To immerse yourself in a language is actually the most difficult and exciting thing you can do!”

The language is constantly changing. You have to get completely involved. New expressions are added or disappear, there is always something new to discover.

What do you like about Klagenfurt? Why should one study here?

I like the old town and, as a matter of fact, that it is situated by the lake and between the mountains. You can easily get to Slovenia, Italy or anywhere on the Adriatic coast and there are many possibilities to do sports and enjoy the beautiful nature. For me as a freeskier Klagenfurt is ideal. There are many competitions in the area, and I take part in almost all of them. Carinthia has a lot of potential in freeskiing and I see that more and more young people are interested in this sport. I like that!

What would be important advice for AAU freshers?

I would advise the students to listen to their hearts and decide for what they are really interested in or what their heart beats for. And to enjoy student life in the beginning, but still listen well at lectures, hand in their work on time and participate in seminars as much as possible.