Many people wonder how they can become fluent in a foreign language.  The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in the language and culture, especially if it’s a language that is not commonly found in Minnesota.

With the help of two Critical Language Scholarships, this is exactly what senior Antanina “Nina” Ricceri did the past two years. Ricceri studied in Oman the summer after her sophomore year, then studied abroad in Jordan the following academic year before ending her travels in Morocco the summer after her junior year.

“Arabic is hard to learn in the United States, and it’s better to go abroad because you get cultural immersion and you speak the language every day,” said Ricceri, an Arabic and international studies major.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program provides intensive summer language programs in 13 different languages across the world and is open to any U.S. citizen enrolled in an undergraduate, master’s or Ph.D. program. The scholarship is offered under the U.S. Department of State and is part of an effort to increase the number of people who are fluent in critical languages.

Critical languages include: Arabic, Persian, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.

Ricceri recommends that anyone who is studying a critical language apply for a scholarship. She also suggests that students continue to stay involved, especially with clubs such as the Globally Minded Student Association. “The State Department looks for evidence that you would be a good person to represent the United States. It also looks into how your language would help you in your future career,” Ricceri said.

As for Ricceri, she’s casting a wide net for her job search but someday would like to work in national security. The Study Abroad office has no doubt that she will succeed, especially with two Critical Language Scholarships under her belt.