Nicholas Fazio ‘20 French Major and the TAPIF experience
Hoping that you are healthy and making the most of your days at SCU. Time goes by so fast so don’t take any moments for granted!
I am excited to share a little bit about my experience studying French at SCU, taking part in a direct exchange program with the Global Engagement office, and working as an English Teaching Assistant in France (program known as TAPIF) post grad.
Going into my first year at Santa Clara, I knew I wanted to minor in French. It must have been week one when I met with Madame Boutouba to discuss this priority. We planned my course load and discussed my goal to study abroad. In the fall of my junior year, I studied as a direct exchange student in Lille, France. All but one of my courses were in French at the Université Catholique de Lille. I loved Lille for the locals with sunshine in their hearts and for the streets full of students. I met people from around the world – most of whom I keep in touch with to this day.
Upon returning from my direct exchange, I was eager to dive into my French courses and a weekly conversation group. The French community at Santa Clara is powerful in its ability to connect students from all different majors, interests, and backgrounds. I loved meeting new students in my classes. The SCU French community was of great support when I contemplated applying for TAPIF. I had seen the program advertised in French department newsletters, but I didn’t think much of it. To confirm my decision to apply, I reached out to SCU students who were either current or past “TAPIFers”. These conversations gave me some information about TAPIF and made things a little more clear. However, I think part of the beauty of this program is to work through unknowns, problem solve, communicate, and grow.
Why did I apply?
I applied to TAPIF for a few reasons. I was eager to continue my French studies in some capacity, train my language proficiency, and expand my cultural competence. People had always told me to consider teaching and I love collaborating with others, so it was a win-win to try! (Now, I have so much more respect for my previous classes and teachers.) I was also hoping to visit some of my abroad friends in their home countries of Spain, Germany, and Switzerland!
During my abroad program, one of my Spanish friends lived in a shared flat. To make the most of my time in France, I was determined to do the same. I sent a load of messages on flat share websites and visited a bunch of places. Last year in Clermont-Ferrand, I ended up in a house with three other French people around my age. This flat share played a monumental role in making my experience special and allowing me to improve my French.
I decided to renew for a second year given the health restrictions and was repositioned to the south of France. I now work in a vocational high school. The students are studying to work as chefs, servers, pastry chefs, bakers, salespeople, and more! I commute by foot and train. Luckily, the beautiful weather in the south makes this easy! Each day brings its own adventure – stress and frustration at times, but always smiles. I love working with the students and collaborating with my colleagues. My colleagues are super supportive, and they give me the responsibility to create my own classes.
I have 12 classes, some of which I see two times per week. During each period, I take half of the students and my colleague works with the other half. That leaves me with between 4 and 12 students. The goal is to ensure that every student has the chance to speak. We engage with news titles, oral comprehension exercises, and games that challenge the students to practice their language skills. During my free time, I take advantage of the train to visit small villages in the region, I volunteer at a local food bank, I learn to cook with my flat mates, and I work out at a gym close to my home. The last activity is necessary because I love all the food!! I’m also extremely lucky to be at a vocational high school because I get to eat some delicious food prepared by my own students!
Although my short-term career goal is not to teach English, I have grown so much from my two years as an assistant. I have been challenged to communicate clearly in another language, develop working relationships with colleagues, lead others, and so much more.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions!
Nicholas Fazio class 2020
Environmental Studies and French
Economics and Sustainability
Activities at SCU:
Student Ambassador, Into the Wild Vice President, Associated General Contractors
Global Fellow, Miller Center Lewis Family Fellow