Antonio Garcia

Antonio Garcia

Class of 2021, Biology, Chemistry and French
Duke in Aix-en-Provence

  • Me looking out into the Mediterranean from the Côte d’Azur.
Me looking out into the Mediterranean from the Côte d’Azur.

Antonio Garcia is a rising junior in the Class of 2021. He’s majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and French. The summer after his freshman year he participated in the Duke Aix-en-Provence program.  

 

On why he decided to do this program... 

“Before coming to Duke I promised myself that I’d do things I truly enjoyed; I really wanted to put myself out there. One of the things that I decided to do was finally take French. I’d wanted to take French in both middle and high school but it wasn’t offered. When I learned about Duke en Aix, I was determined to be accepted into the program. I’m a quiet and shy person, but I promised myself that if I got into the program I would be open to new experiences. I wanted to immerse myself in the French culture and be more sociable with the people around me.” 

  

Me (Far Left), Kayley, Anna and Ben taking a break outside the Louvre in Paris.
Me (Far Left), Kayley, Anna and Ben taking a break outside the Louvre in Paris.

On how his skills/knowledge changed thanks to the program... 

“It’s amazing to see how much progress I’ve made with French from the start of my freshman year (when I had ZERO experience with French) to the end of the Aix program. Even by the second week I noticed a tremendous improvement in my accent and vocabulary. It’s funny how just over a year ago, I could barely say “Je m’appelle Antonio,” and now I can comfortably read 19th century French novels that deal with topics such as philosophy, immigration, and culture. By the end of the program I’d established close relationships with my professors, several students, my host father (who was amazing), and my host country: France.”  

  

On his greatest takeaway from the program… 

“It’s no surprise that study abroad students go through culture shock while adjusting to their new surroundings. But since everyone experiences this uneasiness together, it provides a unique bonding experience. My classmates and I discussed how nice our host parents were and listened to each other’s faux pas. Sharing these things allowed me to grow close to people with diverse interests and backgrounds; I may never have gotten close to them otherwise, because at Duke we ran in different circles. I met two especially humble, kind-hearted people during the Aix program—Kayley and Anna. They helped me acclimate to Duke and because of them, I’m much more extroverted. So that’s my biggest takeaway from the program; not only did my French improve but I made two friends for life.” 

Me and Kayley enjoying the rock beach at Cassis.
Me and Kayley enjoying the rock beach at Cassis.

 

On advice he has for other students considering this program... 

“If you’re a person like me—someone not entirely sure if they fit in at Duke—then I strongly recommend Duke-en-Aix. It’s an amazing experience. Of course, you’ll be traveling to another country, which is incredible in its own right, but the people you meet and the relationships you form will last for a long time. If you’re not sure if your French will improve or if you think you’re unprepared, then GO. I promise that you will not recognize your voice after the program because of how “français” it has become.

Also, don’t be nervous about making friends on the program or about living in a new place. Duke en Aix not only helps you improve your French communication skills, it’s designed to help you adjust to your new surroundings. The program coordinators organize group activities to get students acclimated to the area and to each other.  For example, in one of my most vivid memories students were paired up and sent on a scavenger hunt around the city. Together we discovered monuments, traditional sweets, etc. Being paired with a partner was a great way to put students at ease as they explored, while also helping them get to know a classmate. In fact, it was through this scavenger hunt that I met Kayley, one my closest friends at Duke.

Finally, if you do decide to go, I highly recommend frequenting a bakery just down the road from your classroom called Paul. Order a Pain au Chocolat. It’s the best!” 
 

A “ café gourmand” dessert plate.
A “ café gourmand” dessert plate.

 

On how this program will play into the rest of his undergraduate experience... 

“After Duke en Aix, I was so inspired by France and with the improvements that I had made with French, that I decided to pursue a French minor. I love French and that I was able to meet so many interesting people because of it. In fact, I had so much fun during Duke en Aix that me, Kayley and Anna will be participating in Duke in Paris this summer!” 

 

Programs Featured:

Duke in Aix-en-Provence

 

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