I’ve never taken any of these languages before, though I am a language learning enthusiast. I’m just used to ABCs instead of completely different characters. I plan on double majoring, half international business, half language. Is it crazy to start one of these as a total beginner, especially since I would have to learn to write differently? Or do colleges focus mainly on speaking these first? I have heard Russian and Chinese are notoriously difficult, so would it be a horrible idea to pin my grades on them when I have zero experience?
The alphabet is the least of your worries in alphabet languages. Character based languages are a different beast.
You can start one language from scratch but plan to devote AT LEAST 3 hours out of class for each class period. The pace will be brutal - you cover one HS semester in a month, or one week per class period.
It’s usually very enriching if you’re interested. You need to reach upper intermediate (4th semester or AP) to benefit from study abroad - and plan on a full semester - a full year is important if you’re going for an idea language.