For International Relations Japanese or Russian?

Hi everyone,

So I’m currently a junior in high school, and am currently studying Chinese. I know for certain that upon entering college I want to major in International Relations/International Politics. As I know that speaking multiple foreign languages in the field I want to go into is a big boost for employment and will help me just overall in the career, I’m currently trying to decide on which language I want to tackle next (most likely will be minoring in it in college) most likely over the summer through classes and self study. The two languages I have narrowed down my choices to are Japanese or Russian. I’m really interested in which you guys think will be a better choice to learn considering my circumstances.

So reasons I want to learn them and experience I have previously with the languages:

-I have some previous experience learning Japanese as I had taken a year of somewhat intensive classes at a college near me a couple years ago. Despite having learned some I can only recall basic phrases/words and can still somewhat read Hiragana and Katakana. I can read Chinese pretty well so I could have a leg up on learning the Kanji. In addition I have been told that going down the path of complimenting Japanese with the Chinese I already speak will allow me to “regionally focus” on East Asia in my studies and could lead to better specialization in my career.

-I don’t have any previous experience with Russian formally but am interested in the language primarily because of what is happening in Eastern Europe (Ukraine Crisis, diplomatic complexities with Russian Federation etc.). I am acquainted to some aspects of Russian case system and grammar due to my experience with German (which I also have taken at school for a couple years), and am thinking it might help me navigate something that people have dubbed as the “most difficult part of learning Russian”. I have been told that learning Russian will help immensely in my desired career in International Politics/Relations as Russian along with Chinese and Arabic are three of the most desired languages right now. While learning Russian would help I am just concerned on how far realistically I will get in the language while in my four years at college.

If you guys could give your viewpoint on the issue I’m facing that would be great. I don’t at the moment plan to learn both as I only wish to focus on two languages (Chinese+ whatever) throughout my college studies to make sure that I attain a professional level in both of them.

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If you want to enter government service after college, specializing in East Asia would definitely be helpful. So in that case, continue to study Chinese and/or Japanese.

However, if you think you would like to specialize in Russia and Eastern Europe, then Russian would be a good choice.

Either way, study whatever interests you the most.

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You’ve got to study the languages of cultures that intrigue you. It makes the process 1000x easier and much more enjoyable. I didn’t enjoy learning Spanish in high school because I had a lack of interest in Latin America / Spain. No knock on their histories or cultures, I just couldn’t relate to it nor find much interest in it. In college now, I’m studying Arabic and really enjoy it due to my interest in the middle east geopolitical world and religion.

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