It’s the night before I take off for France, and I could NOT be more excited. Well, I would be feeling a bit better if my bags were 100% packed and my room was clean, but that’ll all be taken care of soon enough. Tomorrow I embark on my journey to France to be an English assistant for the next 7 months, via the Teaching Assistant Program in France. I will be in the city of Pau, which is a small-ish city (about 80,000 people) in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Best of all, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from Spain! Oddly enough, I was actually placed in the school district of the region of Bordeaux, but I ended up being about as far away from the actual city of Bordeaux as you can be. But I am quite pleased that I ended up in Pau, primarily because it is a university town and because of it’s proximity to the Pyrenees. I’m originally from the very flat state of Wisconsin, but after 4 years in the Northwest, I love me some mountains. Hopefully I’ll be able to do lots of hiking and snowshoeing!
This is my second time preparing to take off for France. In the Spring of 2011, I studied abroad in Nantes with IES, and had the most fantastic time. Obviously, things will be quite different this time, but I’m super pumped for two things that won’t have changed at all: speaking French all the time and the FOOD. I’ve basically been dreaming about French food all summer, from the pastries to the wine to the cheese to the awesome markets.
I’m a little more apprehensive about the actual teaching aspect of being an assistant. I’ll be teaching Elementary school in a little town right outside of Pau, and to be honest, I don’t really have a whole lot of experience with children of that age. I taught a summer French class here in Madison for soon-to-be Sixth graders this summer, which helped my teaching confidence exponentially, but I’ve heard varying things about how things have gone for other Elementary-level assistants in the past. I don’t know exactly what I will expected to do, as it changes from school to school, but I have packed my extensive sticker collection, which I hope will win me some friends.
I have done SO much research on the TAPIF program, and read so much about Pau, and I am just so ready to be there. All the reading in the world never prepares you for what it’s actually like to be in a place. It was a very long (but fun!) summer working an exhausting call center job in Seattle, and now I am quite ready to go adventuring yet again!