Currently still in shock. I started my application to teach English in France last October. It has been nearly a calendar year of many anxious months waiting to hear back from TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France). COVID has delayed these decisions several times, but yesterday I got the email: I’m moving to the Académie d’Aix-Marseille in southern France to teach elementary schoolers English. And I’m over the moon excited!
If you know me personally, you know that these past few months have been rough. Results were supposed to arrive in early to mid April, and the virus kept pushing those back. And this waiting has been emotionally taxing for me and my other friends applying. And I am delighted and relieved to hear that I’ve been accepted to TAPIF.
What will you be doing?
The Teaching Assistant Program in France hires 1,600 Americans to come to France and teach English to primary and high schools across the country. The country is divided up into académies, which are, in essence, really large school districts. I’ve been placed in the Académie de Aix-Marseille but have yet to receive my specific town. That means I could be in Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Gap, Avignon — the list goes on! I’ve been placed in primary school and will be teaching elementary schoolers.
The position is only 12 hours per week, and hopefully, I’ll be able to lump sum them into three days instead of a scattered hours throughout the week. Assistants are often placed at multiple schools within the district. Since the position is only 12 hours per week (plus travel time to each school), I’m planning on growing my blog even more. And depending on what COVID restrictions look like, I hope to travel, blog and travel blog lots in the next year as the contract is from October to April. (If you want to stay updated on my life in France, sign up for my email list and get free access to my Travel Resource Library.)
OK but COVID
Yes, I got my acceptance, but I still have some hoops to jump through in terms of securing a visa. The TAPIF email sent yesterday said that the program is set to happen during its regular timeline; however, there’s a chance that assistants may arrive later than the expected mid to late September. The COVID situation is constantly changing, and I hope and pray that I’m able to get my work visa in good time.
As far as the COVID situation in France, much has reopened with restrictions. Thousands of schools are open (and have been since May), and restaurants have reopened.
In sheer honesty, I still have questions and anxieties. There is so much unknown, and after all this waiting, I can’t imagine this acceptance being taken back. The world is a weird place these days, but I’m choosing to take it step by step, day by day.
I don’t have all the answers, and I have no clue what life on this planet will look like in October — but no one does. I’m choosing to take this next step but understand that precautions will need to be taken.
Why are you going?
This May I graduated from Mizzou with two degrees: journalism and French. During these four years, I learned so many valuable skills and grew as a student and woman. But I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do with my life yet.
To be honest, I’m a bit burned out of the traditional journalism world and wanted to take a gap year to explore some other passions, such as French and living abroad. I’ve been taking French for nearly a decade and lived in Toulouse for a summer. Even after all these years, I still get jitters when I have a conversation in French, read a book set in France or watch a French film.
In 2015, I went on a school trip to Europe, and we visited Paris, London, Rome and Florence. And those handful of days completely changed my trajectory — experiencing the world firsthand taught me so much more than a textbook ever could. And although I loved the other destinations, Paris struck a chord with me.
Years later, I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach as I called my parents while on that trip. I was sitting on my fold-out couch bed in the hotel and sipping a lemon-flavored soda. I gushed about how I was able to use my French, how I’d chatted with an employee at the Louis Vuitton store, how I could order my meals. The power of language is groundbreaking.
And you know what? I still get those butterflies. Learning a foreign language has grown me immensely. It’s taught me how to sit in uncomfortable and unknown, it’s taught me bigger perspective, it’s taught me that my way to live is not the only way to live.
And it’s opened so many doors and allowed me to have relationships with people all over the planet. And I’m so excited to help these French students experience what I did and still do.
In the meantime
The program ends in April, and I’ll reassess what’s next when the time comes. I do love storytelling, writing and editing, and believe me, I’m just as curious as you are to see what I’ll do with my life. But at the moment, I don’t know where I’ll be in two years, but I do know that I’m unbelievably exhilarated to move to southern France to teach these kiddos.
I’m unbelievably grateful for my family, friends and teachers who have encouraged me and believed in me throughout this process. And I’m especially grateful for my high school French teachers who not only taught me the curriculum but also instilled a love for the language and culture. Merci beaucoup!
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