How to Survive Being Placed in a Small French Town All By Yourself (Part 2: The Cons)

I’m back with part two of a three-part post on small town French life. Today’s post takes a slightly less cheerful turn as I take an honest look at the most difficult parts about living in the middle of nowhere. But fear not! I will be back soon with a list of recommendations for making the best of TAPIF in a small town … it’s not always easy, but it IS possible to survive and thrive!



  1. You will sometimes feel like you’re living in a ghost town. 

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Sh*t the French Say: A Guide to 8 Noises You Will Definitely Hear in France

When I came to France, I knew that I would encounter cultural differences; that’s just a fact of expatriate life. However, one thing I was not expecting is just how different the most common noises are. Every language has noises and expressions that you hear frequently; in English, for instance, you are likely to hear things like “hmm,” “um,” “well,” “like,” and “huh” on a daily basis. I never really gave any of them much of a thought before, but I have discovered that these noises are not universal; for example, you will never hear “um” in a French classroom, but you will definitely hear “bahhh” or “euhhh”! I have therefore put together a list of the most common noises that you will hear in France, as well as a guide on how to use them. Heed this information and you will be speaking comme un(e) Français(e) in no time!*  Continue reading

19 Things I’ve Learned as a Teaching Assistant in France (Part 2)

[Here is Part 2! I’m taking advantage of my temporary wifi connection …]

8. You will need to use your French at work …

You only need intermediate French to become a teaching assistant in France, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for me if my French hadn’t already been very good when I got here. Yes, I speak English when I am teaching, but to speak to school administrators, teachers who don’t teach English, and anyone outside of the school, it really helps to have a good grasp of French. Even though I make an effort to stick to English in front of the students, sometimes when you’ve explained an activity five times and the students still don’t get it, it’s better just to explain it in French to avoid utter chaos. Even the English teachers for whom English is their second language prefer to speak to me in French outside of class, which kind of surprised me!  Continue reading

19 Things I’ve Learned So Far as a Teaching Assistant in France (Part 1)

[Note: I haven’t been able to update the blog in a while (still no wifi connection in my apartment, and limited high-speed data on my phone), so not only is this post long-awaited, but it’s also very loooooong. As such, I’ve decided to start with just the first part today … which is still really long. Enjoy my ramblings, anyway!]

I’ve been working as a teaching assistant for about two months now, and let me tell you what a journey it has been! Before arriving in Domfront at the end of September, I had zero teaching experience, no knowledge of how to manage a classroom whatsoever. Many, if not most, of the English teaching assistants in France are in the same boat as me; a teaching degree is not one of the prerequisites of the TAPIF program. Still, the thought of standing up in front of a classroom full of kids and conveying the assurance of a qualified teacher was more than a little nerve-wracking, even though I was looking forward to trying my hand at it.

Now, near the end of November, I’m still finding my footing in terms of the whole teaching thing. I’m settling into both of my schools, getting to know the students and staff better, and gaining confidence as a teacher, and yet each day presents new challenges. At the same time, teaching is perhaps one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever done, and I never finish a day of teaching without at least one funny story to tell. My experience so far has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and it will be interesting to see where it takes me over the next five months!

For now, here are a few of the many things I have learned as a teaching assistant in France … Continue reading