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Catching Up With German Majors: Esti Matulewicz ’20

Esti Matulewicz ’20 came to Princeton intending to major in sociology, but she pivoted to comparative literature after a memorable freshman seminar with Professor Barbara Nagel. Needing another language alongside Spanish for her major, she chose German. Matulewicz enjoyed both the language sequence and the higher level departmental courses, and she soon decided to major in German.

“I think it ended up being the best place for me considering my interest in art and media theory, as well as politics,” said Matulewicz. “It was the most interdisciplinary department that I could find, so I signed up.”

Matulewicz liked the German department’s programs and took advantage of many summer offerings, including the Princeton-in-Munich program and a research opportunity in Berlin. She also enjoyed working with a number of professors on her independent work.

For Matulewicz, the abrupt transition to online learning in March introduced several challenges. She was fortunate enough to have finished her visual arts thesis before having to leave campus, but her senior thesis loomed large.

“I think the thesis was the hardest thing. It really came down to having access to secondary sources; a lot of them were available online. Clicking through an online book is definitely a different experience, but Command-F was my friend,” Matulewciz joked.

Working remotely from her room at home, Matulewicz translated a 1919 essay by Magnus Hirschfeld, a psychologist during the Weimar Republic. She also wrote a foreword and an afterword relating the essay’s pan-humanist ethos to modern politics and discourse on unity.

Matulewicz found a position with Teach with America. Though her job training had to be conducted virtually, she was still impressed by the community building that is possible online.

For students about to embark on another semester of online learning, Matulewicz underlined the importance of taking initiative to talk to people, since opportunities for spontaneous interactions remain scarce.

“Really reach out to people. I am not personally very good at that, but I’ve found it extremely rewarding, especially when working from home,” said Matulewicz.

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