Je Suis Toulonaise!

A few weeks ago I received perhaps the most important document to date: my work contract (l’arrêté de nomination) ! Despite the fact that my work contract and packet of papers all read DIANA Wielgus instead of DANA, and I have been trying to get a corrected document, I am ecstatic to finally know EXACTLY where I will be teaching come fall.

I will be living and teaching in the city of Toulon.

administrative-france-map-departements-Toulon

I will be teaching specifically at LPO Rouvière, a French vocational high school. From what I have gathered from their school website, this school’s curriculum is basically the equivalent of the Wisconsin STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathmatics) curriculum, and is aimed at high school students who are planning to take their Baccalauréats (le bac) in various sciences or engineering fields, or have a goal of being accepted into one of France’s prestigious grandes écoles. Originally I was very nervous about teaching in an Engineering geared school, but I have to remind myself that I am the ENGLISH teacher and will (most likely) not be expected to assist with engineering classes. Additionally, I have been in contact with the coordinator at the school at which I will be teaching, and it seems that I will be most likely teaching students en 2ème & 1ère anées, et ceux en terminale (basically high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors); and I will be joining seven other English teachers. Unfortunately, they do not have housing provided for me, but have recommended me several areas in the city in which to look. I was also provided the contact information of the American assistant I am replacing. Although I have contacted her a few times, I have heard nothing so far. Hopefully she will get back to me soon (I’m curious to hear about her experience as an assistant, and perhaps receive leads on finding housing, which will for sure be the most daunting and intimidating task)! Thankfully I have found leads on Le Bon Coin (basically France’s version of Craigslist, though they have that too!) Originally I was sort of disappointed to have been placed so far from Nice (about 1.5 hours west) but this quaint city of 170,000 people is growing on me.  Toulon is right on the Mediterannean Sea, and is a naval port city of Europe (so, lots of international people live on base!) I am right in between Nice and Marseille, and only a short train ride away from Aix-en-Provence, St. Tropez, Cannes, & Menton (not to mention… Italy & Monaco!) Additionally, ferries traveling to Corsica and Sicily leave daily from the Toulon ports, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to do those things. Finally, Toulon has a RyanAir (cheapest-piece-of-crap–budget-airline airport connecting to London.) Plus, I’m in the south of France, so it cannot be all that bad, right!?  I like to keep in mind that I was about 1.5 hours from Paris when I lived in Caen, and I was perfectly happy. Here are a few pictures:

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toulon-BayView

Port_militaire_de_Toulon

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France-Toulon-strip **Side Notes: Le Baccalaureat or “le bac” as it is more commonly refered is the equivalent of an American High School Diploma. However, instead of just completing a certain number of credits, le bac consists of a series of exams which focus on subjects the French students chose to pursue when the entered high school (and will continue to pursue at the university level). Les grandes ecoles (literally translated as “the higher schools” do not have an American equivalent- the closest would be ivy league schools. In France, every student who passes le bac has the right to attend any public university of his or her’s choosing. However, les grandes écoles are very selective and competitive, and focus generally on one area of study.

Bisous,

Dana

3 thoughts on “Je Suis Toulonaise!

  1. Hello Dana,

    I have looked at your blog when I applied to TAPIF and it was very helpful. Unfortunately, I’m waitlisted in the 300-500 range and its not looking like it will happen. I, however, have been looking into au pairing, and am currently talking with a family from Toulon. I’ve never been to France or Toulon so I was hoping you might be able to tell me if you like it or not? Is there a lot to do? I’m choosing where I want to be an au pair based on places that might allow me to have a bit of a social life outside the family because I will be free on weekends and during the morning and afternoon.

    1. Hi Alison,
      Thanks for your comment! Toulon is a special place. I enjoyed my year there in the French Riviera. It’s right on the beach, well-placed within the region for traveling, and is not as expensive as Nice or Marseille. There are great daily markets and awesome weather. That being said, it isn’t the most beautiful of cities by French / Côte d’Azur standards (but I liked it) people can be a bit particular and there isn’t much nightlife…. thankfully there are a lot of assistants in Toulon so you’ll be able to meet people. We made our own fun and traveled a lot. There were also au pairs who joined up with us. If you were waitlisted because of your French / lack of abroad experience this could be a great opportunity for you.

      I think for au pairing, staying in a big city is an absolute must. Good luck !

      Dana

  2. AHHHHHHHH I’m so jealous of your placement! I was in a city with only 60,000 people. It was lovely, but pretty small. And my best friend who taught the year before me was in a teeny town with only 6,000… yikes. Being by the sea, AND being at a ryanair hub, AND being a short train ride away from so many beautiful cities… your weekends will be busy!!!!! You’re close enough for day trips, so you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money on accommodations. Definitely look into couchsurfing. In fact, go ahead and set up a profile ASAP and connect with the Toulon group. The group in Niort did weekly English groups for the locals to practice their English, and one day we toured all the towers (les tours… teehee) together, and we did a big Thanksgiving dinner together that was SO much fun. This is a jumble of thoughts because I’m so excited for you!

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