Do Whatever the Fuck You Want

Every Wednesday the members of Penn’s German Club meet at the Starbucks of 1920 Commons to talk with each other in German. A short dialogue ensued when a newcomer, a freshman, stopped by to check things out. He was interested in learning German, because he was in Germany in the summer and fell in love with the place. He told us he wants to learn German to he can study in Europe.

“So why aren’t you studying German?”

“I’m taking Arabic. Taking two language classes would be too much.”

“Drop Arabic then.”

“I can’t do that. I’m doing International Relations.”

“You can drop it.”

“I can’t. I want to do something with it. I can do something with it.”

“Oh.” A pause. “So what do you wanna do?”


“What do you wanna do?”

“What kind of question is that?”

“It’s a question about what you wanna do.”

“What do you mean, what do I wanna do? Now? Sometime later?”

“It’s not that difficult: What do you wanna do?”

“I don’t understand.”

“What do you wanna do after college?”


“What do you wanna do with what you’re studying? What do you wanna do? What do you wanna do in college? Seriously, anything. It’s an open question. About anything you wanna do.”

At this point, Tom the Friendly Giant stepped in. “What do you mean, Hans? That’s vague as hell.”

The freshman felt reassured by Tom’s comment, even though it was in German and he understood none of it. “What do you mean what do I wanna do?”

“Fine, I’ll narrow it down. What do you wanna do in or after college?”

“I don’t know. Do something with Arabic, or something. I’m doing IR.”

“I thought you wanted to study in Europe? Learn a language and study in Europe?”

“Well, yeah, but it’s just, I don’t know. You can’t just do that, you know?”

“Yeah, you can.”

“But I’m doing Arabic.”


“What do you wanna do?”

“I want to graduate and go back to Berlin and live there.”



“German’s difficult.”

“I learned it in a little over a  year. If you want to learn it you’ll learn it.”


“I took Arabic first semester freshman year, decided I didn’t want to continue it, and I picked up German first semester sophomore year.”

“No way! Why’d you pick Arabic?”

“I went into college as a Modern Middle Eastern Studies major. Arabic didn’t work out after the first semester, so I thought about PPE. Didn’t work out for me, so I thought about Philosophy. Decided to take German to meet the language requirement. And now, here I am.”

“Why did you drop Arabic?”

“Wasn’t for me.”

“Why didn’t you learn Hebrew?”

“Why won’t you learn German?”

“It’s too difficult.”

“Okay, so, what do you wanna do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Didn’t you say you wanted to learn German and study in Europe?”

“Wait, did you say you learned German sophomore year? You’re, like, the guy I should be talking to.”

I began talking to Tom in German.

“No, you’ve got to be lying to me,” the freshman quipped, “you didn’t actually take Arabic. You’re kidding, right? What do you even know in Arabic?”


5 thoughts on “Do Whatever the Fuck You Want

  1. Exactly. Do what the fuck you want. Don’t waste time on fulfilling society’s ideals. I’m actually having that crisis now…do I do engineering/science to simply get a particular internship or be happy with German and sociology?

    1. Do what makes you happy. You know why? When people ask you, “What are you gonna do with German and sociology,” you’ll know the fuckin’ answer. You’re gonna be happy. The doubters can go fuck themselves, because I (and YOU) know what a sharp, resourceful, engaging person you are. And that sharp, resourceful, engaging guy is going to be just fine making his way around life.

  2. I get a lot of shit for taking a non-traditional path for both an engineer and an Indian. Fuck the haters. I’ll do what makes me happy. Good post hans

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