the TAPIF process.

When I applied for TAPIF in the fall of 2010, I had some knowledge of the program but no real idea of everything I was getting into! The application for next year, 2013-2014, has just been made available online and can be viewed here and more information about the program can be seen here.

For all of you new, interested applicants, here’s what the timeline of my application process looked like…

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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!

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england a la française

One of the coolest opportunities I had while I was an assistant in France was to go along on the class trip to York, England. For free! I went with 52 French high school students and 4 teachers, spoke more French than English, and discovered the unique charm (and the strong accents) of Yorkshire.

We took a coach from Douai all the way to York, with a trip through the “chunnel” on the way. It was so creepy! Nothing like I expected: the humongous coach pulled into what felt like a storage trailer along with an SUV, the door was shut, and we couldn’t see anything except the orange glow coming from the fluorescent lights inside our little storage unit. Thirty minutes later, there was light, and we were in England!

Inside the chunnel, where the sunlight is replaced with a creepy orange glow. Not the best way to travel for those who are claustrophobic…!

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le grand retour!

I have recently become terribly irresponsible about my blog. I don’t know if the French have influenced me with their laissez-faire ways, if I’ve become too busy in the past month absorbing the culture shock from my home country, or if I forgot that I had a blog in the first place. In any case, it needs to change because way too many awesome things have happened in the past few months that I haven’t told anyone about – like my trip to England with 50 French high school students or my 2 week adventure exploring New York and California with 3 Frenchies (because we all know if it’s not on the internet, it didn’t happen).

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let’s go to Poland

After finishing my teaching contract three weeks ago, I am now on permanent vacation – but let’s look back at March…

For my spring vacation, I decided to do something a little different: I participated in a week-long program called Angloville. It’s a fantastic language immersion program for native Polish people to improve their English. I spent 10 days in Poland overall, giving me 2 weekends in Krakow (before & after the program) and 6 days in the mountain city of Zab (during the program).

I was traveling by myself, so it took lots of tries for me to do each step to get me closer to my hostel. Two times at the ticket machine. Three times walking past the train stop – it was seriously not marked well… that’s my excuse. Two times asking for directions to the hostel (which was literally right down the street from the station). But I made it!

On the way to the Schindler Factory

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the new and renewed

Yesterday was a great day for many applicants to the TAPIF program! Congratulations on those who were accepted to be an assistant for next year, keep your head up for those of you who were put on the waitlist, and for those who were denied a position – there are other ways to get to France!

I remember that day, when I finally found out that yes, I would be in France next year. It was a good feeling considering that I got my first choice and would be headed towards the north, working for the Academie de Lille. This exhilarating moment was then followed by more waiting, until I received my arrete de nomination later in July, which finally told me exactly what school and what city I would be working in (it wasn’t Lille, but rather 20 minutes away by train). The waiting was terrible, but in the end it all paid off. The program has been disorganized at times but extremely rewarding at others.

Once again, I am still playing the waiting game. As a renewal applicant, I should find out sometime during the month of April if I have been offered a position again. At least this time I know that I will definitely be in the Academie de Lille (renewals can only work in the same district after having done the program once already), but if I am accepted, I’ll have to wait until late summer to know exactly where it is that I’ll be working for the school year to come.

So, congratulations to all the new assistants (and especially to those placed in the north)! You’re on your way to France!


so close, yet so far

I only have 4 weeks left of work as an assistant at my high school in Douai, France (and one of those weeks will be spent abroad in England with 50 students and 4 teachers). I can’t say it’s gone by fast but it hasn’t gone by slowly, either.

I still need to blog about my awesome trip to Poland that I took at the beginning of March. I spent 10 days in the country, split between hanging out in the city of Krakow and doing a language immersion program called Angloville in the tiny mountain city of Zab. The people, atmosphere, and culture were all amazing and I’m trying to figure out a way to describe it to you all! Here’s a preview…


But right now, my mind is caught up with other things!

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