1 in 950: Izzy Steiger ‘18

With Grace Richey '19
Staff Writer

From:  Bellingham, Washington

How many siblings do you have?

I’m an only child, and I grew up spending a lot of time alone in my house with a lot of young adult novels and two cats—who are actually still alive. We got them when I was in Kindergarten and their names are Snowy and Bella.

 What are you majoring in?

I’m planning to double major in German Studies and Media Studies with a Film Production track, but I’m also thinking about Linguistics somewhere in there.

What has your experience been like in taking German?

I got really into speaking German in high school when I started taking it freshman year, and it was kind of always “my thing” that I do, where I was one of two AP German students senior year and nobody else was remotely interested in German. I carried my high school’s German Club, and then I came here and established myself here as someone who is really interested. Because it’s so unique, I feel like it is sometimes all that people know about me. I’ve had friends introduce me to people that I’ve never met before as, “This is Izzy, she speaks German.” It’s something that I’m really proud of and it’s very important to me, but it’s also weird to be written off as “the German girl.”

What piqued your interest in German?

At my high school, basically we just had the choice between Spanish, French, and German, and everyone [who] does Spanish and French overwhelmed me with the pronunciations,[1] [2] [3]  so I went with German. Also partially because my family many, many generations ago was from Germany, but not to the extent where it’s actually important or part of my family’s culture so it doesn’t really matter.

Have you ever been to Germany?

I went a couple years ago through a scholarship that the German government gives to international students learning German. It was amazing. I spent a month traveling around and seeing Germany with twelve other students from all over […] I got to bond with these really cool people from really different cultures. It was sometimes awkward because the only language that we had in common was one that we all didn’t speak very well. But after spending so long with them, they really feel like family—it was amazing.

Do you have a favorite German food?

Unfortunately, I’m vegetarian, I was raised vegetarian so I haven’t tried a lot of meat before and German cuisine isn’t really something I can eat a whole lot of. Germans have this really great obsession with potatoes that I really enjoy. I don’t know how obesity is a bigger problem in America that in Germany because all they eat is potatoes. They have about as many ice cream stores as we have Starbucks everywhere, so it’s a big culture of just gelato and carbs and it’s wonderful, it’s excellent.

Do you think you will study abroad in Germany?

I’m hopefully planning on studying abroad in Freiburg in the spring next year. It’s a very tiny, very old city in the south where they speak a very intense southern dialect, which makes me really nervous. I went through the Study Abroad Office and looked through their giant binders of reviews of all the Germany programs and it seemed like this one was one where people learned the most linguistically. There’s a girl in one of my German classes this semester who hardly spoke any German and then went on that program for a year and now can say more things than I can even really understand. So I’m really impressed with what she learned and I would like to mimic that.

What has your time as a probable film major been like?

It’s been really strange because I’ve always made videos and small films on my own; it’s something that I’ve loved to do since middle school, but it’s something that I’ve always done very independently from everyone else and in a very solitary sense. Then I came to campus and started doing things with other people and it’s just really strange working with other people that [take] a lot of control away from you, where this project is no longer really yours or your idea and you don’t have complete control over everything that happens.

What have been some of the projects that you have recently worked on?

I’m taking an Intro to Video Art class at Pitzer, which I’ve really been enjoying because the whole premise of the class is to really look outside the box and not produce conventional content but to really just take prompts and run wild with them. One thing that I got to do recently that I really enjoyed was the concept of “ballet mécanique,” which I think means mechanical ballet but I’m not really sure because, well, French. The concept is basically you take a machine and you set it to music or a story so you’re breathing life into it in some way. I went to the Motley where I work and genuinely spend most of my time and filmed lots of shots of the espresso machine being used and then I edited it to every sound except those of an espresso machine sounds. I was trying to take this object that was really familiar to me and make it strange in some way, to make it foreign and disorienting. Like I set it to a sewing machine sound and a creepy music box and I think the sound of paper being crumpled and a heart beat. It was a weird project but I really enjoyed throwing random elements into it when I could.

What are some of the video projects that you did when you were younger?

I did a lot of documentary-narrative things when I was younger. I use to want to be a writer when I was younger so I really enjoyed writing things and then saying those things out loud or filming to a set script but I also really enjoy random artistic placement of images. One of the projects that I am actually the most proud of that I’ve made was about my trip to Germany before coming to Scripps, where I just wrote an open letter to Germany. When I was there, my camera was constantly in my hand and I was filming everything I could, so I finally [found] a way to funnel all those memories and create a nice memory soup where it’s only a couple minutes long but it’s nice to look back on it and it just reminds you so intensely of people you’ve met and places you’ve been or something you’ve experienced. I really like using cameras for saving things that are really important to [me]. They stay really fresh that way.

How did you get involved with I AM THAT GIRL, a Scripps CLORG that focuses on advancing women’s empowerment through different forms of media?

I basically hit it off with the CLORG leader randomly at the CLORG fair in Seal Court my first year and decided to just come to one meeting to check it out. It sounded really media-based which is something that I already knew I was really interested in doing. I ended up bringing my roommates with me […] to scope things out; I came for the media but stayed for the deep conversations that we started having. It was strange because even though I lived with these two people and shared so much of my life with them, when we walked into the space it somehow became magical and we all felt more closely bonded and we were able to talk about what was really going on in our lives. It was weird to check in with someone you see all the time and find out how they’re really doing. We all gradually got more and more obsessed with the organization and now we’re all on the leadership team together. It’s like our first-year roommate activity extended into sophomore year.

What is your leadership role in I AM THAT GIRL?

I’m the Digital Archive Manager. Basically, I’m just the file monkey who keeps the hard drive that has all of our video files, everything we’ve ever recorded, edited, or produced on it organized. After [current I AM THAT GIRL head Sarah Rosen ‘15] departs from our group, I will take the lead on editing most of our projects.

What have you learned since joining I AM THAT GIRL?

One thing that I would underscore is the importance of involving other people in your work in media. I’ve seen that especially through I AM THAT GIRL because I was someone who really wanted to go in alone, that striving solitary artist, but once you start talking to people and working collaboratively, nothing compares to the creative juices of a whole bunch of people in a room who are all excited for what is going on. I would say to seek out community in what you are doing so that you can find other people who can help egg you on, and then suddenly anything is possible.

What do you do at the Motley?

I’m a barista and I love it more than anything. It’s genuinely my favorite thing about Scripps, like I love being here and I love my friends, I love the atmosphere of the campus, I love the things that I am studying, but the Motley is genuinely the thing that keeps me going—like with caffeine but also like emotional support. There’s a really great community […nice anecdote about the positive community that I can include if necessary]  Everyone that I’ve ever met there is incredibly sweet compared to other jobs that I’ve worked. It’s a really cool pocket of campus community.

Given that you’re a barista, it’s only appropriate to ask about your favorite drink on the menu

It’s very much a mood thing for me. I would definitely make a plug for matcha chachas but wish rose syrup instead of vanilla—life changing, genuinely. I’ve also been getting really into Mexican chocolate. Really, any Motley drink with chocolate is […] great. Those would be my go-tos, but honestly anything is good.