French Testimonials

Kayla the Flight Attendant

Kayla the Flight Attendant

After graduating with my master's in French literature at UH Manoa, I remember thinking, what next? My dream was to move to France, so I applied for the TAPIF program to teach English in Haut-Normandie. It was an amazing experience, and although I wanted to remain in France, it was not looking promising. But life takes interesting turns sometimes, and although it was not what I was expecting, last year I was given the opportunity to travel the world for my career! I have been working almost a year now as a flight attendant for United Airlines, and I can honestly say that it is the best job in the world for me! I believe that the experience that I gained from the French Master's program at UH helped me land this dream job, and I'm thankful that I can use my French with my customers and visit France now whenever I wish, for work and for pleasure. Merci UHM French department!

Kayla the Flight Attendant

Lucie the Project Manager

I completed my MA in French language and literature, and then decided to pursue a career path in the translation industry. I am currently an executive project manager at one of the world’s largest translation companies. It’s a very busy job, and I have quite a bit of responsibility as my team specializes in the area of Life Sciences. We work on translations that are often very rushed and they are needed to help sick people. Most of our projects are intended for clinical research, to help develop new drugs.

I handle on average around 12 projects a day, each with a different scope and language pair. I follow very strict procedures to ensure the best quality for the client, and work on a close basis with translators around the world. Though sometimes my job can be very high pressured, I love the daily challenges which keep it very interesting. I am also able to use my knowledge of foreign languages, including French, during finalizations of projects. I love what I do every day, and when I leave my office, I often know I made a difference in somebody’s life. There are also continuous opportunities for career growth, as I can choose the areas that interest me and specialize. I would recommend this as a career to anyone who is interested in project management. Please feel free to reach if you’d like more information. I’d be more than happy to help you with the application process as well.

Hanna's experience teaching with TAPIF

Hanna Roman was a teaching assistant with the TAPIF in Tours, France, during the year 2006-2007.

"After completing my BA in French, this was a great opportunity to live and work in France and have an interesting international work experience. I was so nervous about living in another country and language, but in the end it was one of the best and most memorable times of my life. I learned so much about French education and culture, and made lots of friends from around the world.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do as a career, and the TAPIF gave me the chance to get real-life work experience while figuring out what I wanted to do next."

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Melissa the Flight Attendant

I've always wanted to travel, and being a rather expensive habit, it was imperative to find some way to do so! Learning French and getting my French degree at UH enabled me to apply for a job as a flight attendant, at a time when people with multiple language abilities were and are the only people being hired. Now I've traveled four months of vacation to four different countries in the last year and I regularly go on work trips to places all over the world with my colleagues as well!

melissa in villagemelissa sharing food with friends


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From Hawaii to Paris – my research adventure.

When I mention that I used to live in Hawai’i, most people are surprised. The first question out of their mouths is, “What took you there?” When I answer them with, “French!” they get really confused. But suffice it to say that serendipity and the encouragement of a few important people gave me a wonderful opportunity to get a graduate degree and complete a Master’s Thesis at UH in French.

I’ll admit, at times, it seemed bonkers, reading Rousseau while lying on some ridiculously beautiful Pacific island. But one thing that islands attract are people from all over the globe. I ended up having more native-speaking French professors in Hawai’i than I had back in South Carolina, where I had done my undergraduate degree! To have learned to speak fluently from those for whom it was their mother tongue made all the difference for me. But of course, the American-born French professors in whose path we followed provided lifelines for all of us, in the moments when we were drowning in work or tearfully navigating the differences between what makes a paper good in French vs. in English.


My Master’s Thesis (not a requirement, but an option) was a 2.5 year process. The thoughts and i

nspirations I had at the beginning in almost no respect resembled my finished product. I remember hundreds of hours of poring through works that I thought might have the slightest tangential reference to my topic, but these hours were never boring. To search the bowels of a library for three or four books with maybe one paragraph of reference between them was to me, an adventure, if a rather quiet one. Modern methods of research make it possible to search national French archives online from anywhere in the world, and YouTube videos and online archives can show you plays and radio broadcasts decades old. The thesis took me from Honolulu, to New York City, to the University of Reading in England, and finally to la Bibliothèque Nationale Française in Paris. I spent two months researching in England and France, partially funded by scholarships from the French Division at UH. My thesis advisor, Kathryn Hoffmann, came to Paris to help me and another student navigate the French academic research protocols.

I remember one day early in my stay in Paris, I felt rather scared of being on my own. Dr Hoffmann invited me to her flat, across Paris, for dinner. We had a simple but delicious meal and talked about my ideas and the directions my paper was going in. She was a centerpiece of my time in Paris: not only was she present at most of our visits to the most restricted archives, she took the other student and I to museums, celebrated our birthdays, met our friends, and constantly sought to help and guide us, while at the same time, encouraging us to explore our own paths.

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Grappling with a thesis feels like one of Hercules’ labors a lot of the time. The enormity of work is daunting from the beginning, and even then, you don’t really have an inkling of the effort it will require. But it certainly does make for a proud and bittersweet accomplishment to finish and present one. It isn’t for me to say if anyone should go here or there for a degree, but my experience with the French Division at UH took me places I never dreamed of, both physically and mentally. I know I’m not the only one.

Written by Haley Cason

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kara in the mountains

Five months in Paris

Hello! My name is Kara and last semester I studied in Paris. I’m an advocate for studying abroad because I believe that immersing yourself in an a foreign language and culture gives you the opportunity to gain a brand new perspective, as if you are a child re-learning everything.

I spent roughly two years studying French at UHM before spending my last semester of my undergraduate degree in Paris (having taken the intensive French summer course at UHM I was able to obtain an undergrad in French very quickly). I spent five months attending a renowned university and living with a host family.

Planning for this experience was not easy, but very achievable with all the resources at the French department. I was awarded two scholarships, the Doyle scholarship and the Anita Heicht scholarship, following the guidance and advice of my French professors. Once I was there I reaped the benefits of all my planning. I went to a café at least once a day and learned how to sip an espresso and chat for hours, something that is less common in Hawai’i, but integral to socialization in Paris. I went to free museums when I wanted to, and spent a lot of time simply walking all over Paris.

kara in a villageOne of my favorite things to do was to hop on the métro and step off wherever I pleased, and walk for an hour until I felt like heading home. It was the most indulgent “learning experience” I’ve ever had. Living with my host family improved my speaking proficiency by leaps and bounds. I remember struggling to explain to the cab driver how to get to my apartment the first night I arrived. By the time I left, thanks to nightly conversations at dinner with my French family, I was having conversations with my cab drivers.

It would be a crime to leave you without speaking of my culinary awakening in France. To live in France, Paris especially, means to go to a bakery early in the morning for fresh bread everyday and eat regional cheese at every opportunity. I had never tasted so many varieties of le fromage chèvre (goat cheese) in my life, and I’ll never forget eating le canard (duck) for the first time. I ate fois gras, lapin, crêpes, fondue and even boulots (seaslugs) with glee and in complete honesty my palette has missed France ever since my return.

kara eating breakfastI was also fortunate enough to travel to other areas of France via high speed train, such as Lyon (the culinary capitol of France), Nice, and Geneva. If I could offer any advice to those considering traveling to France it would be to cast away any hesitation, or obstacles, and use the French department to help you get there. In hindsight, as a first year french graduate assistant and student, I see how much my time spent immersing myself in language and culture has helped me to approach my new responsibilities. My confidence and self efficacy has grown since returning, knowing that if I can speak and live in a foreign country for five months I am capable of mastering whatever I feel passionate about.

Bonne chance!

kara in the mountains

Spanish Testimonials

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This program was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. Being immersed in another culture will have a lasting impact on anyone fortunate enough to participate in one of these programs.

Major: Marine Biology
Tyler Rivera

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The program is well thought out and gives students the perfect mix of independence, structure, and learning. Pairing skills that are learned in the classroom with full cultural immersion strengthens the students language skills and cultural appreciation.

Chelsey Rivera

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Studying in Alicante will be an experience you'll never forget. With discotecas and bars open until dawn, plazas and markets full of people ready to converse, and friends and teachers behind you every step of the way, the program provides the opportunity to truly grow as a person. When I returned, I used my newfound confidence in Spanish to secure an internship and a job. I plan on returning but this time, as a teacher.

Rhys Ragasa: Graduate Student for the Department of Religion Studies at UH Manoa

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My experience in the Spanish Program at the University of Hawai‘i was truly amazing. I found the course curriculum excellent and top-notch professors who inspired me to pursue a PhD.

Laura Velázquez, Language Instructor at the Foreign Service Institute (Washington DC)

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“The variety of topics and subjects offered within the Spanish department are incredible. I am friends with students from other universities, and their Spanish departments do not have nearly as much diversity as ours does. I enjoyed taking translation (both levels of the undergraduate course), medical Spanish, and Latin American/Iberian film, to name just a few. It is also wonderful that our professors for these courses are quite knowledgeable in their field. I also think it is great that the program encourages study abroad for its students. My study abroad experience really enhanced my degree”

– BA Program student 2022

The Spanish program has exceeded my expectations. It has helped me to further develop my Spanish speaking and writing skills as well as increase my knowledge in Spanish linguistics, translation, Hispanic literature and culture, U.S. latino studies, Spanish film, and business Spanish. I consider the faculty to be the strength of the program.”

–BA Program student 2020-2022

“All faculty and staff were very helpful, knowledgeable, understanding and there to help you succeed on your language learning journey”

–BA Program student 2022

“[The strength of the program is] the professors, the curriculum, the methodology used by the professors, the GAship, and the support and friendliness from all the professors and staff”

–MA program student 2020-2022