TAPIF 101.

I’ve been reflecting on my TAPIF experience lately while I am waiting to hear back if I’ve been renewed or not. For all of you newcomers, here are some tips that I wish I would’ve had before I headed over to France.

  1. Finances depend on the city you’re placed in. I lived in a city of 40,000 people about 20 minutes outside of Lille. My apartment was provided by the high school I worked for and cost me 96 euro/month, all inclusive. I paid 26 euro/month for my cell phone plan (with internet). Once I took care of my monthly payments, that left me with around 600 euro/month to play with, meaning I was able to travel on holidays, go out with friends, and eat out when I wanted to. Remember, you’re working as a teaching assistant so you’re living a teaching assistant’s lifestyle. Ask your referent to help you find a place. If you’re working for a high school, ask if they have an assistant apartment! Look at the average price of apartments in the city where you’ll be working and subtract it from your paycheck – can you make it work? I hope so!

  1. Don’t let your location stop you from going. If you’re not placed in your top choice, go anyway! You’ll get to discover a new part of France. If you’re scared of being in a small town, really ask yourself if you think you could be outgoing enough to make friends and connect with coworkers in order to form a network. My fellow assistant friend Cydny lived in a super small town near where I was working, and she did it and loved it!
  2. You don’t have to travel on every holiday. Instead of escaping your city every time you’re not working, stay a while and find out what you might be missing out on. I didn’t realize that Douai had a church and a park until my Mom & Dad came to visit in February… for shame.
  3. Your job may or may not be stressful. From what I’ve heard from fellow assistants, the amount of real work you’ll do is completely dependent on your school and coworkers. I barely worked 12 hours/week. I had several small groups to myself that I met once/week with, a few classes where I split the group and time with the teacher, and other classes where I stayed in the room with the teacher the whole time. I probably spent an hour each night looking over notes or preparing lessons (sometimes more on the weekends if I wanted to get ahead).
  4. The French do things… differently. Paperwork. Friendships. Jobs. Food. The list can go on! You can take this as a good thing or a bad thing, but I suggest the first option. Sometimes paperwork takes ages, so call, email, and fight to get it done. Sometimes it takes more time to make a friend in France than a friend in America – that just means that when they make friends, it’s for real and not just on Facebook. Indulge in the local beers and wines. Try your hand at cooking French cuisine on your own. Basically, try to take as much as you can from living abroad, because for some people, this may be the only opportunity!

You really don’t need much advice going into this, because it is an awesome way to spend a year living in France. Live it, learn from it, and… let me know if you have any other questions that I could help out with! Bonne chance!

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6 thoughts on “TAPIF 101.

  1. Caitlin Cash September 28, 2012 / 2:10 PM

    Hey Haley! My name is Caitlin, and I am doing TAPIF this year. I am stationed in Chateau Thierry, but originally from Austin, TX! I stumbled across your blog and have loved reading it. I have a question that I can’t quite figure out – phone stuff. Who did you go with, was it on a contract, did it have data (I just bought an iphone), etc. Thank you so much for your help!

    • haleyinfrance September 29, 2012 / 2:42 AM

      Hey Caitlin! A fellow Texan in France, awesome :) I would recommend going with Free. They don’t have physical stores, but check online and see what they have to offer! It’s one of the cheaper plans in France and you can have unlimited everything (text, calls, data) for less than 20€. You just fill everything out online and they send everything you need to your house! If you prefer to have an actual store set you up, I used SFR last year and it was fine – I paid around 25€/month for unlimited text, 3hrs calling, and internet (not unlimited but I never ran out). It was a contract but it was “sans engagement” so I could quit when I wanted to.

      Is your new iPhone unblocked? (I can’t use my iPhone here since I have Sprint in the states, which doesn’t use sim cards! C’est dommage.)

      Hope this helps!

  2. periscopestudio October 6, 2012 / 12:01 AM

    Thank you so much for keeping this great blog! I am applying to TAPIF this year for the first time, and this is all extremely helpful for me. :)

    • haleyinfrance October 6, 2012 / 5:44 AM

      I am glad you enjoy it – and surprised that I’ve kept it up this long, haha! Thanks for reading, and good luck with the application process!

  3. lindwalk July 29, 2016 / 7:53 PM

    Hi Haley! I recently started reading your blog after I found out I’ve been placed in Douai with TAPIF! I will definitely continue reading. I was also wondering if I could get your advice on some things. My burning question now is: if I’m planning on reapplying after the first year (your blog has opened up this idea to me, and I would love for that to happen!), or just traveling around a bit after the school year ends, should I buy a one-way ticket to France and leave the country for a bit (I have some family in Switzerland and Germany), when my visa expires? I don’t want to burden you with too many questions, so were there any resources/alumni of TAPIF you thought particularly helpful when you were going through the process? Thank
    You for being an active blogger. I appreciate you sharing your story!

    -Lindsay

    • haleyinfrance August 1, 2016 / 8:44 AM

      Hello, Lindsay! Congrats on TAPIF! If you are European, you have very strong chances of being accepted for a second year. If you are American or Canadian, however, the process is more complicated (in the end it didn’t work out for me). The Facebook groups are pretty helpful, and you can check out the one for “Alumni of the Teaching Assistant Program in France” to get ideas for what to do after the experience. Feel free to shoot me an email at missdermody(at)gmail(dot)com if I can be more specific! Maybe see you in Lille! :)

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