Today, I received an excruciatingly long-awaited email: I have been officially accepted as an Assistante de Langue Anglaise (English Teaching Assistant) in Nice, France– on the French Riviera!!
As you know, I studied abroad in Caen, France– in Normandy, in 2010, and absolutely LOVED every minute of my time there. Since returning, I have wanted more than anything to go back and teach English. I had heard about the Teaching Assistant Program in France through a friend, and had actually met a few language assistants in Caen while studying there, and decided the moment upon returning to the United States that I would be applying to this program post college graduation. Over the course of three years, I have known other friends that have completed the program and loved it, so I knew especially that as a French/ESL Education major it would be something I would absolutely love to do (and at which I would thrive)!
The application became active last October, and I submitted mine on December 9, 2012- only to endure the 4-month wait until April. The application, though competitive, was fairly simple: it requested basic information, passport photos, transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of your French language skills and abroad experience, experiences with teaching or children (I’m a certified teacher in WI), and a personal statement (cover letter) describing one’s motivations for wanting to participate in the program, and what you would bring to the table (all in French!)
Additionally, I was able to rank my prefered regions in France (as in where I wanted to live/teach. The school districts in France are broken up by academies, or regions). This was probably the part of the application that was most stressful. It’s hit or miss with TAPIF. I’ve stalked enough forums and blogs to sort of know which regions are most likely to offer free housing, which regions are more accommodating, which regions are more expensive, etc. However, I also had to decide if I wanted to go back to Normandy (my second home), or try something new. In the end, I decided that I wanted to list regions with a bigger city and preferably one that had a TGV (the fastest trains in Europe, competitive with Japan’s bullet trains and up to speeds of 200 mph). This way it would be easier to travel. Additionally, I decided that I really did wanted to try the south of France, for a new and different experience (I have never been to the south of France)! Unfortunately, the TAPIF program clumps regions in three different lists, and you are only allowed to choose one from each list (ie: Paris, Nice, and Bordeaux are all in the same list, so I could only choose, Paris OR Nice OR Bordeaux). So, in the end I listed: 1. Nice (on the French Riviera), 2. Rouen (which is a different area of Normandy), and 3. Lille (which is in the north of France, near Belgium), but I ended up getting my first choice- Nice! (Pronounced like “N-EE-s). Nice is about as far from Caen (Normandy), which is on the English Channel (where I studied abroad), as you can get, but, it will sure be a great 7 months! I’ve never lived in a warm climate before!
For now, this is all I know. I will be heading to Nice, France in September 2013, to be an English teaching assistant until May 2014. I will not know my exact location or assignment until June, though I will be looking forward to finding out. After 3.5 years, I am so excited to get back to Europe. I can’t believe I am accomplishing my dream! Vive la France!