We recently caught up with Newman alumna Xime Name ’19 on her post-college adventures as an au pair, her experiences learning her third and fourth languages and finally, pursuing her master’s degree.
Read on in this Q&A style interview to hear of Name’s latest life experiences.
Q: What initially led you to Newman?
A: What initially led me to Newman was golf. I was looking for an athletic scholarship and I got an offer from Newman to play at the women’s golf team. They ended up granting me an athletic and academic scholarship.
Q: After graduating from Newman, what was your goal career-wise?
A: I wanted to further my studies by getting my master’s degree specializing in graphic design, but before that, I wanted to take a “gap year” to learn a third language and travel. After that, the plan was to move back to the U.S., get my master’s degree and get a job as a graphic designer in the U.S. … but the universe had other plans for me! I now work as a Digital Marketing Manager at a startup called “Tipsi.”
Q: Can you describe your experience in Germany working as an au pair?
A: Long story short, it was not quite the experience that I was expecting, but I’m still glad I did it. I was the very first au pair of my host family, so they were not used to having a stranger living in their home and the kids were not used to being taken care of by someone other than their parents, but we all got used to it with time and learned to make it work together.
Often times, I felt homesick because it was not easy to adjust to a new family, country, culture and language. But regardless, there were a lot of good moments, too. I am actually still in contact with my host family (I love those kids to death!) and we have met a couple times since I moved away.
Even though it wasn’t easy, I still take it as a good experience. I got to learn another language, immerse myself into another culture, become more independent, travel, etc.
Q: What inspired you to pursue your master’s in digital strategy with a specialization in artistic direction?
A: I knew I wanted to pursue a master’s in graphic design. However, as I was looking for schools and programs, I stumbled upon the program that I am currently studying and realized that it is way broader. I could be a graphic designer if I studied artistic direction, but not the other way around. Graphic design is a portion of what I’m currently studying, but we also study some other cool things such as UI/UX design, marketing, communication, etc. I attend Digital Campus, and they only have digital-oriented programs. I chose digital strategy with a specialization in artistic direction because I feel it will open many doors and broaden my artistic and creative skills.
Q: How have you used the skills you developed at Newman in your continued education and work experiences?
A: Many of the things I learned at Newman are key in my job and my career. From developing an eye for design and learning how to see the world differently by drawing and painting, to learning how to use the Adobe programs and the principles of design. In fact, I have Matthew Miller, Newman’s senior graphic designer, to thank. He mentored me while I was working as a student graphic designer at Newman and I got to learn so much from him. Many of the things I do at my current job are things that I did while working as a student graphic designer at Newman. (Matthew, you rock!)
Also, having the amazing opportunity to work at Newman as a graphic designer definitely influenced me to pursue this career, and for that, I thank Clack Schafer, director of university relations, for trusting me with this amazing job and being the nicest boss ever!
Q: Can you describe what life is like in France, what you enjoy most about it?
A: It is very different in many ways to living in the U.S. I do miss the new buildings and the people in the U.S. mainly because they are so friendly and easy to get to know, unlike most French people. But on the other hand, I love that France (or Europe really) has a lot of history and very old buildings and medieval towns. Also, you can get anywhere in the city by walking, riding a bike, or the public transport and there is really no need to have a car. I also love that since everything is so small, you can get to another country in two hours or sometimes even less. The food is very good too, especially the winter food (most specifically raclette and tartiflette). And don’t get me started with the wine and cheese. So good!
Q: Can you describe the “alternance” school setup? What is the most rewarding aspect of this for you?
A: It is truly an amazing opportunity and when I found out this was a thing I immediately started looking into it! There are many rewarding aspects of being an alternant. For instance, not only do I get to work in my field at a real company (learning “sur place” and gaining experience), but the company also pays for my master’s and pays me a salary on top of that. So basically, I get paid to learn.
Q: Before going to Germany, you were fluent in English and Spanish. What was it like to learn a new language, followed by learning French? What advice do you have for people who are trying to learn a new language?
A: At first, it’s scary. I was insecure and uncomfortable while speaking the language I was learning because my vocabulary was very limited and, being a perfectionist, I didn’t want to say something wrong, so often times I would go the easy way and speak in English or just not talk to avoid saying something wrong. But after a while, I realized that daring to speak and being open to making mistakes is a huge part of the learning process. You can study a language for years and know the grammar from head to toe, but if you don’t dare to speak it, you will always be in a blocking state.
I really enjoyed the process. I have to admit that I was very surprised with myself with the progress I was making. Moving to the country where they speak the language that you are trying to learn helps a lot, because you are obligated to hear it and speak it every day. And when you least realize it, you will be speaking it more naturally and fluently as well.
With German, it was harder because the grammar is so different than Spanish and there are many many rules. But I think I already had an advantage with French because the grammar, unlike German, is very similar to Spanish, which is why even though I started learning it after German, I became fluent a lot faster. Sometimes I don’t know how to say something and I will just say it in Spanish with a French accent and it works.
Patience, motivation, determination and consistency are the secret ingredients to learn a new language. If you have these four things, the learning process goes so much faster and becomes very enjoyable. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy (because it isn’t), but with these four things, anyone can learn a new language and speak it fluently in a matter of a year or two.
For both German and French, I started with the app Duolingo and I found it very useful for gaining vocabulary and learning the basics. I was using it every single day for months, for at least five minutes a day. That can really go a long way, it’s just a matter of making it a habit. When I first got to Germany and France, I was already able to order at a restaurant, have a small, basic conversation with someone, ask for directions, etc., thanks to Duolingo!
Q: Any obstacles you’ve overcome since graduating that you’d like to share? Any exciting moments or adventures to share?
A: Besides my challenging experience as an au pair, moving to two different countries, learning their languages, and adapting to their culture, it’s also been difficult getting used to how the education system works in France and doing my masters entirely in french, especially being the only foreigner in my class. But I am learning a lot and I started to make some friends here, which reassures me. I am currently living a life I would’ve never imagined I would even dare to live as a senior at Newman, and that’s very exciting!
Q: Anything else to add?
A: I want to thank Newman for giving me four of the best years of my life, as well as preparing me for what is to come career-wise, lifelong friends and a second home. Newman will always have a piece of my heart. Once a Jet, always a Jet!
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