The End… For Now

This, my friends, is the end. For now.

This blog was meant as a way to at once document the TAPIF experience and provide somewhat of a guide for future TAPIFers. I think it accomplished these goals. Which means one of two things; this blog is done for good, or this blog will take a new and related direction.

A big “merci !” to all those who have read this blog and all those who have been part of my blog community and invited me into theirs.

I’ve enjoyed blogging and the community it opened up to me. I do not believe that this will be my last blogging experience. À voir pour la suite.

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

vib-awardA while back, Dana, a TAPIF blogger friend, now a lectrice blogger, kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I adore Dana’s incredibly insightful blog. Your blog certainly has inspired mine. Merci, Dana ! And “merci !” to all the readers of my blog, I greatly appreciate your support and wish you the best in the New Year.

The “Rules”

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you enjoy, and let them know that you have nominated them.

The “Facts”

1.)  I started fencing in college and would love to start fencing again or begin learning historical fencing.

2.) I was once voted “Most Likely to be a Russian Spy”. One year of Russian came in helpful for something I guess? Где библиотека?

3.) Piggybacking off of Dana’s fact #3, I played clarinet for 10 years (haven’t touched it in 3, maybe I should change that?). My high school marching band played at the Gator Bowl and Citrus Parade and the New Year’s parade in Disney’s Universal Studios in 2008. Video at my last championship.

Masqueraders

SOURCE: Metropolitan Museum of Art, metmuseum.org

4.) Around age 2, I became a pirate. (ahem, the eye patch helped back then)

5.) My favorite painting is Masqueraders by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta.

6.) My favorite word in English is pumpernickel. That or kerfuffle. I pretty much can’t say them without smiling.

7.) I do not eat beef unless it is served to me and would be offensive to reject.

Nominees

Next Stop– Dounia’s blog is very informative about the “Third Culture Kid” experience. I first heard the term “Third Culture Kid” because of this blog.

Hardly Snarky– Anne is a current TAPIF assistant. She writes well and takes great pictures.

Present Perfect– Anne is a current TAPIF assistant who provides some good cultural commentary.

The Vicar of H Street– Becky is a Gettysburg grad (go Gburg!) and went on to become an Episcopal priest who writes a wonderful blog. She was so supportive when I’d just arrived in DC, I wish I could still walk over to the church she is at on Sundays.

Peace Corps Adventure– A Peace Corps Albania blog which is helping me decide whether or not Peace Corps may be in my future.

Seneballin’// Senegal, Peace Corps, and general toubbabery– A Peace Corps Senegal blog which is helping me decide whether or not Peace Corps may be in my future.

The Wanderer in Zambia– A Peace Corps Zambia blog which is helping me decide whether or not Peace Corps may be in my future.

Hannah Goes to France– Hannah did the maximum 2 years of TAPIF and so has a lot of insight.

Is it against the rule to re-nominate the nominator without expecting that they re-post the award? Because Dana’s blog, As Told by Dana, truly is fantastic, especially for those who want to learn how to stay in France after TAPIF or for those freaking out about a post-TAPIF life, because she nailed that.

Well, since I’m already against the rules, this might be the end of my list. Perhaps a New Years Resolution should be to follow more blogs. And with that, my 100th post is posted. Thanks again, Dana!

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Results are in

Survey results are in! Thanks to everyone who participated, you guys are fantastic! The results aren’t very wide-ranging in terms of the different académies, my fault as I didn’t do much to disseminate the survey. That being said, please feel to comment thoughts you have on your académie or fill out and share the survey. I will periodically update this page if new results come in.

Académie de Montpellier 

1.) Which city were you placed in?

Nîmes

Carcassonne

2.) What size city did you request?

Large

Medium

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

The great transportation! 1.50 euro buses and cheap regional trains. I like exploring the outdoors, and le Parc naturel regional de la Camargue was amazing. It is a beautiful region. I found I generally liked the people in Nimes.

Close to the sea, close to mountains, close to Spain, generally nice weather, rugby culture

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

Street harassment seems pretty prevalent in the south, but generally, nothing.

Can’t think of any bad things specific to the Académie.

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)  ✓
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)  ✓
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Montpellier, Strasbourg, Poitiers

Montpellier, Limoges, Nantes

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Lyon/ Grenoble, Dijon, Toulouse

8.) Comments

I LOVED my school I was placed at.

Académie de Paris/Versailles/Créteil PVC

1.) Which city were you placed in?

Cergy

2.) What size city did you request?

Large

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

I get to live in Paris.

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

I have to commute really far.

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)

 6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Bordeaux, Nantes, Nancy

Academie of Versailles seems to be very disorganized.

 Académie de Lille 

2.) What size city population did you request?

Medium

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

The insane friendliness of the locals, the ease of learning French here (because no one speaks English!), the proximity to Belgium/Netherlands/England.

History and Food

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

It is not as beautiful as the South perhaps, and it is quite cold and rainy.

Terrain

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Lille, Strasbourg, can’t remember

Aix-Marseille, Lille, Anywhere

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Aix/Marseille

Guyane, Martinique, Aix-Marseille

8.) Comments

There is a reason they call this region the friendliest in France!!

Académie de Strasbourg 

2.) What size city population did you request?

Large

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

Proximity to Germany, Switzerland, and other towns in Alsace; great Christmas markets and beautiful area

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

I was placed in a small town despite my request for a large city, and it was very difficult to meet people and make friends. Also, I had over 300 students whom I only saw a couple times a month, making it very difficult to get to know them.

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)  ✓
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)  ✓
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)  ✓
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Strasbourg, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Bordeaux, Nice, Grenoble

Académie de Nice

2.) What size city population did you request?

Large

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

Weather, Things to do, Proximity to touristic cities and attractions.

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

It is expensive!

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)  ✓
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)  ✓
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)  ✓
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Nice, Rouen, Lille

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Nice, Rouen, Lille

Académie de Nancy-Metz

1.) Which city were you placed in?

Sarrebourg

2.) What size city population did you request?

Medium

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

Rural, friendly, location between Nancy, Metz, and Strasbourg, excellent teaching staff.

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

Lack of peers/young people in my city.

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)  ✓
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)  ✓
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)  ✓
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Aix-Marseille, Nancy-Metz, Orleans-Tours

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Nancy-Metz/Strasbourg

8.) Comments

Take advantage of the northeastern France, especially if you love the outdoors… it is the most undervalued and beautiful place!

Académie d’Amiens

1.) Which city were you placed in?

Chauny

2.) What size city population did you request?

N/A (did not have a choice)

3.) What were your favorite things about your académie?

Cheap/free housing, location to Paris, friendly people

4.) What were your least favorite things about your Académie?

Not much going on, mostly small cities

5.) Please rank these things about your city (averages).

1 2 3 4 5
Transportation (1= poor, 5= great)  ✓
Cost of living (1= expensive, 5=cheap)
Orientation effectiveness (1= not very, 5= very)  ✓
Things to do (1= not many, 5= many)
Amount of English spoken (1= not much, 5= a lot)  ✓

6.) Top 3 choices for académie:

Aix-Marseille, Lyon, Grenoble

7.) Theoretical choices for the future:

Amiens, Lille

8.) Comments

Being placed in a small town can be rough, but it was actually a very rewarding experience in the end, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s why I’m still in France.

Posted in Practical Things, Preparations, TAPIF, TAPIF application, teach abroad | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A call to past (and present) TAPIF assistants!

TAPIFPast and present assistants! This survey is for you. It is a survey to rank your Académie, to let future assistants know what made your Académie special. If I can’t fiddle with this to show the results on the page, then I’ll post again with the results or a link to the results. The survey is anonymous. Please pass it along to other assistants. My hope is this helps future assistants get an idea of what académies to sound like a good fit, especially those underrepresented in blogs and by personal connections.

 

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Just Keep Swimming- Message for new TAPIFers

SOURCE: beyondblessedblog.com

You might think “France? What’s so difficult about living in France? That would be a dream!” You’re not completely wrong. Living in France can be dreamy. Having just arrived, it probably is pretty dreamy right now. It’s probably not as difficult to live and adjust there as it would be in a non-western country. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, no matter where you find yourself. The first three months are probably the hardest; opening a bank account, finding or changing housing, getting insurance, getting a phone, building a support network, getting CAF, and all the bureaucratic stuff. It gets easier, but there will be bumps of various sizes in the road which might make things difficult for a while. Here are some important things to remember if you’re feeling down.

If my experiences abroad, especially the first one, taught me anything, it would be that you will encounter stumbling blocks and most often, you will have to face them alone. These might be things you wouldn’t even know how to go about in your own country. Don’t let these experiences make you fall. They will make you stronger if you let them do so. The negativity won’t last forever. Everything will be ok in the end because that’s how it has to be, even if it doesn’t end the way you hoped. Remember that.

Marc Johns: the ice cream says it'll be okay

SOURCE: marcjohns.com

You may not be in Peace Corps (or maybe you are if you’re reading this and that’s pretty freaking awesome), but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel down at times. Just make sure to get yourself back up. There’s many times I wanted to drown myself in chocolate and tea. So I did. Healthy? Maybe the tea. But it’s ok to indulge yourself sometimes. Be patient with yourself.

You have to learn that you are a strong and independent individual who must believe in themself and that even if you’re not as strong as you want to be, the only way to get stronger is to fight for yourself and what is right.

You have to learn to stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s experience will be different, so focus on making the best of your own and supporting those around you. Just because you’re having a rough spot and others aren’t doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong.

Adaptation. You can do it. It takes time. You can’t rush it, though getting involved in your community helps. Get involved with something as soon as possible. Try a bunch of things and then find a few to stick with.

Source: Pinterest

Life’s not fair. Things will happen that are out of your control. They won’t be your fault, but you’ll still have to suffer because of them. I came back from March break to find my window cracked. I didn’t do it, but I had to pay for it and figure out who to call and what to do on my own. While the struggles suck in the moment, they’re usually not as bad as you think they are. And you know what, even if it is horrible, when something is out of your control, it’s out of your control. You can only do so much, so just try to learn something from the experience. Pick your battles wisely, do what you can do. There’s no use stressing out over something you can’t change. Easier said than done.

Learning to work with others who are quite different from you. Not everyone will like you. You won’t like everyone. People have different motivations and priorities. You can still work peacefully together and even make friends you wouldn’t normally choose. These may or may not be the most fulfilling relationships in your life, but they will be instructional. That’s important.

It’s ok to be alone. Sometimes, you may travel alone. It can be quite liberating, actually. Maybe you won’t end up making many good friends or it takes a long time to develop relationships. It’s important to learn to enjoy your own company.

Most of all, you can do this, and TAPIF will be a great experience if you choose.

YES! This is what I've been saying to myself

Source: dearinspirationblog.blogspot.com

Posted in Assimilation, Culture, Practical Things, study abroad, TAPIF, teach abroad, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Because macarons aren’t tempting enough

Get ready to drool, my fellow gourmands. Paris may have its macarons, but the south of France doesn’t fail in offering an array of sweet temptations. I succumbed to most of them. No regrets. These and so many more are what you have to look forward to, future assistants of the south. What is your favorite French sweet?

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The Practical Things for TAPIF: What foods ARE typically American?

When you’re preparing to leave, sometimes you want to try to take ingredients for typically American (or wherever you’re from) foods. For me, it was hardest to figure out what a typically American food was beyond hot dogs and hamburgers. It was also a question I was frequently asked. Here’s a list to get you started. Did I miss something? Comments!

  1. banana bread
  2. American style cookies (REAL chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle…)
  3. grilled cheese
  4. corn dogs
  5. corn bread
  6. Tex Mex cuisine
  7. peanut butter (and pb&j’s and general sweet and salty combos)
  8. macaroni and cheese
  9. fudge (ce n’est pas un gâteau!!)
  10. floats (oui, ça se boit)
  11. root beer
  12. cheese cake, though I do believe Picard sold mini speculoos cheese cakes
  13. jello (be conscious of your Muslim students, though)
  14. maple syrup
  15. pancakes (make them blueberry to kick the American level up a knotch)

And for fun try this Sporcle quiz on American foods: http://www.sporcle.com/games/JoeBeta/classic-american-food

Posted in Culture, Practical Things, TAPIF, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 9 Comments