I’ve walked these paths

Let me take you on a ride to walk the paths I’ve traveled and meet the friends I’ve made. For your viewing pleasure, I present to you this interactive map of my travels during my 8 months with TAPIF. So many more places and people beckon. For now, I am so grateful for all that defined my TAPIF experience. I truly am a lucky girl.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

TAPIF Pre-Departure Chaos: Your Questions Answered!

Your questions answered here! A big thanks to everyone who participated, especially Dana for getting the questions and answers together.

As Told By Dana

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our Pre-Departure Chaos blog post! Alas, lo and behold, the answers to your questions! Our contributors include future TAPIFers Anne Donnelly, Avec Sam, Jen, JenTee, Nika Likes Maps, and Anne Elder (be sure to check out their blogs!)

  1. What types of teaching materials did you bring with you, and were they worth the space in your luggage?

Dana: I brought a high school yearbook, money, and old restaurant menus. Honestly, apart from the American coins (to simply pass around the room on the first day), I never used the resources I brought, and it wasn’t worth the extra weight and space. I obviously brought the yearbook and money home, but chucked the menus before I left France. Overall, just don’t be old school. Save your pictures and videos of home  onto a flash drive or an…

View original post 3,178 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

TAPIF in review

My TAPIF experience was incredible and I would definitely recommend the program. If I’d had the possibility of renewing my contract for a second year, I probably would have, but alas, it’s no longer possible to do two consecutive years. This is really inconvenient when planning for graduate school and jobs. Is this the best program to teach abroad? To be frank, probably not. That isn’t to say it’s not a good program and definitely not to say that I regret doing the program. Here are a few things to consider if you’re considering or going intoTAPIF.

Salary- You should be able to eat, pay for housing, make (small) college loan payments, and still have some money left for travel. Somehow, I managed to even have a little money left over after subtracting the amount I paid for my flights to France and back. You do get health coverage and are eligible for housing money from CAF, though both are very bureaucratic processes (aka time consuming and complicated). You can babysit and teach private lessons to bring in extra money. I highly suggest you do.

Preparation– What preparation? The guidebooks are fairly useful for pre-departure information, but not so much upon arrival and departure. The CIEP newsletters are fairly useful. There is no guidance in your après-TAPIF life. Considering how long the program has been in place, the organization could use  improvement. Luckily, you can find useful blogs to guide you. The blog So You Think You Can France was a godsend for me. I would highly recommend Dana’s blogKelsy’s blog, Kim’s blog, and Erin’s blog and I am sure there are many others.

Skills Building-There is no training, orientation is minimally useful, and there are no conferences to work on your skills, unlike the JET program and Fulbright or Peace Corps for instance. It is a great experience if you make teaching a priority (it is your job, you know) and get a school that knows how to use its assistants. It can be even better if you have prior teaching experience, especially TESOL. You only teach 12 hours a week, so this gives you time to get involved in other activities. Get involved as soon as possible make the most of these opportunities.

School Organization– Case by case basis. My school was probably one of the best organized in Nîmes in regard to the attention I was given, yet I still found myself working in an unstructured environment. I adapted to kind of environment, but if you need structure, you might find yourself unhappy. A healthy dose of improvisation is often key. Planning only goes so far sometimes. Have a general plan A, B, C, D and Q. You’ll often end up using plan Q#.

Program Organization– So much is dependent upon the Académie. Some Académies aide their assistants in finding housing (Poitiers during the 2012-13 year at least). Some Académies have useful orientations. Some cities work with a local bank to help assistants open bank accountants (LCL in Nîmes, though I didn’t know when I arrived). Some schools are more organized than others. Primary assistants in Nîmes had a special contact person. Everything is so incredibly dependent on a great many factors.

If you want to teach English in France, TAPIF is a great way to do it. Acceptance into the program is about 50%, so you’ve got a pretty good chance of being accepted. Typically, you’re not alone in your city or town and have a multicultural network of assistants. Fulbright is really the only other organized program I know of through which you can teach English in France and it’s highly selective (~3%). The French Fulbright commission prioritarily places their assistants in ZEPs (zone d’éducation prioritaire, similar to the idea of an American failing school). If you don’t receive the ETA French Fulbright, you’ll automatically be added to the applicant pool for TAPIF. If you’re already applying to TAPIF and other countries interest you through Fulbright, it may be in your best interest to diversify your options through Fulbright. An option for Master’s students (sometimes an undergraduate degree is enough) is finding a position as a lecteur or lectrice at a university. TAPIF is unique in that you have the opportunity to work in any of the DOM-TOMs, so consider that.

Posted in Nîmes, Preparations, TAPIF, TAPIF application, teach abroad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Pre-depature Chaos: Ask Dana and Lauren

New to TAPIF? Have questions you haven’t found answers to? Freaking out in pre-departure excitement and stress? Katy of the blog So You Think You Can France offered a similar question opportunity on her blog and I really appreciated it, so here’s returning the act. Dana and I are here to help you!  Ask your questions here or on Dana’s post and in about two weeks, we’ll write a post with answers to your questions (or at least try).

Ask away!

Posted in Consulate, Housing, International Education, Practical Things, TAPIF, TAPIF application, teach abroad, Travel, Uncategorized, Visa | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Practical Things for TAPIF: Crazy Abreviations

Now that you’ve probably received your arrêté de nomination, you probably know a little about what type of school you’ll be at and maybe what type of classes you’ll assisting with. Lots of letters, huh? What do they mean?? Jetez un œil at this list that I compiled- and check the back of your handbook.

P1050847BTS- Brevet de Technicien Supérieur- It’s kind of like an Associate’s degree and the students vary from 18- 25 years old generally, but you’ll find these classes in high schools in France. They focus on orienting students to a very specific career. For example, I have worked with fashion, banking, and assistant to the manager students. In Nîmes, one of the assistants had a BTS class that was being trained for careers in the wine industry. I really enjoy working with these students and have done so in Nantes when I studied abroad and in Nîmes.

L- Série littéraire

LPO- Lycée polyvalent- A high school offering general and professional/ technical classes. You’ll often find BTS classes at these schools.

S- Série scientifique. This is often considered the most prestigious of the tracks in high school and all the brightest students are encouraged to pursue it because it opens up the most options after graduation.

SELO-Sections européennes ou de langues orientales

SMS- Sciences médico-sociales

STVA- Sciences et technologies de l’agronomie et du vivant

STD2A- Sciences et technologies du design et des arts appliqués

STI2D- Sciences et technologies de l’industrie et du développement durable

STL- Sciences et technologies de laboratoire

STMG- Sciences et technologies du management de la gestion

STS- Section du technicien supérieur

ST2S- Sciences et technologies de la santé et du social

TIC- Technologies de l’information et de la communication

TMD- Techniques de la musique et de la danse

Any crazy abbreviations you’ve seen that you don’t know what they mean?

Posted in Practical Things, TAPIF, teach abroad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Reverse culture shock: Becoming [American]

IMG_0324To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting any reverse culture shock. Silly of me? Well, perhaps. I knew it would be difficult to leave France and have to start over, but I would keep occupied with my move to DC and experiencing American city life.I have kept occupied and it helps in readjusting. Yet, I didn’t avoid the reverse culture shock.

I feel homesick for a place which was home for only eight months, but it was a home I loved very much where there were people I cared very much about. I miss my students (my dear Frenchlings!), the teachers I taught with, and my friends. I miss my cozy little purple and green apartment on rue Bec de Lièvre. I miss my visits from Petit Chat. This is all part of the readjustment phase and I am so grateful to have such wonderful things and people (and cats) to miss.

After four moves (home, a friend, another friend, MY apartment), I finally have a stable place to live as of this past weekend. Holy flapjacks is DC expensive and it is hard to find a place to live that is (somewhat) affordable and metro accessible.

But the reverse culture shock…

I never quite realized just how capitalist the US is. Was everything really this much about money before? Where are the social benefits? Why do I have to be freaking out about finding a job that offers health care? Shouldn’t the government cover that in my taxes? And cover it well? How is it possible that a country can allow college tuition to be so high? Why does housing cost so much and why isn’t there any housing aide available to students? On-campus student housing prices are insanely expensive! In fact, just about the most expensive you’ll find in DC. Even non-student housing is expensive. How can housing agencies get away with making such a huge profit margin? Why is the metro so expensive, so inefficient, and why the heck do they treat it like a train??? Where else do metros charge differently for peak and off peak fares and charge more for longer distances? And the prices!! How is it healthy for the environment or our need to be less dependent on oil that driving a car can still come out to be less expensive than taking public transportation? Aren’t people supposed to feel encouraged to use public transportation?? Why is there no size between enough-food-for-a-day and enough-food-to-last-a-family-one-week? How did I go grocery shopping for a single person before? No more sacred lunch break devoted to just eating. Not as much appreciation for a good quality meal. And I don’t know, but I don’t find either DC or New York to be terribly aesthetic. And why, o why, is EVERYONE trying to sell you something???

Yet, I have the freedom to write this and I am thankful for that right. I do love my country, don’t get me wrong; no place, no person is perfect.

My heartstrings are still pulled between many places. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the south of France. I did. It’s time to accept that this is the price of living and loving other parts of the world.


Rekindling old friendships and other shenanigans

Posted in Assimilation, Culture | Tagged , , | 13 Comments