Me, myself, and France

Ever since I spent a few days in Paris last summer, I’ve had this idea bouncing around the back of my head that I need to go back. I know how hard it can be to find good work in France as an American, however, so I really didn’t do much with the idea. I poked into the possibility of getting another advanced degree abroad, but it all seemed like too much money—and very much as if I was just using education as an excuse to travel. But then a few weeks back I stumbled upon the existence of this teaching assistants program in France. The short of it is, every year the French government pays 1500 Americans to teach English in its schools. The pay isn’t phenomenal (just under 800 Euros per month, after taxes and health care costs), but it is enough to live off of. Oh, and did I mention? You only work 12 hours each week.

I missed the deadline for the 2011 program, but I plan on applying for 2012. It would mean starting my contract October 1, 2012, and staying for either seven or nine months, depending on which age level I’m chosen to teach for. My application will be due in January.

In the meantime, I’m doing everything I can think of to prepare. I’m working on my French every day (you need the equivalent of three semesters of college French, which I have, but I’m very rusty), researching the program like crazy, and doing my best to save as much money as possible (when I say the wage is livable, that doesn’t factor in my student loans at all, so I need all that money saved in advance). I also need two recommendation letters, one of which has to address my French skills. This is going to be my biggest stumbling block, I think, seeing as how I don’t know anyone that can honestly speak to that. So I’m looking in to signing up for an evening college class or something.

So this is what I’ve been up to lately. I fluctuate between being incredibly excited and incredibly scared, and I imagine these swings will only get more pronounced. But you have to be under 30 on the day the program starts, so I don’t really have the time to put it off. I’m young and able, and if I don’t do this now, I’m afraid I never will.

Also, as an aside for anyone who is intrigued and now considering doing something similar: Spain, Austria, and I think Italy have similar programs. And Finland has a program where you don’t need any language experience. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway.

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