Alexandra, Poitiers, 2011-2012

March 20, 2013 | By Carolyn Collins

I loved my year as a teaching assistant with TAPIF. I was looking for an opportunity to go back to France to polish my French before becoming a French teacher in the US; TAPIF gave me that and more. I taught at the secondary level so I had students from 6ème to BTS. I still have the really beautiful gift my 4èmes made me at the end of the year! I had total freedom over what I wanted to teach which was great, and my colleagues in the English department were really helpful whenever I asked for suggestions about lesson planning. I even made pumpkin pie at one of their houses for Thanksgiving dinner!

Working in a school taught me a TON about the school system in France and really gave me an interesting appreciation for things I'd taken for granted in America. The other assistants in my city were great as well; I loved the chance to meet wonderful people from all over the world. We even had regular potluck lunches on Wednesday afternoons when no one was teaching!

Overall, It was truly amazing to really feel French this time around. When I studied abroad, I felt like I was living at my host family's house and they were French, but I felt like an American student the whole time. This time, I was living independently. I had my own bank account, my own apartment, a job... and I really ended the year feeling like I've embraced a multicultural sense of myself; I feel fully comfortable in both American and French spaces. In fact, after getting back from France, I took a job working at a company that runs French immersion after-school programs; I'm the only American on staff. It's been really nice to keep up my French every day with native speakers and to see how nicely I fit into their cultural world.