Sunday, 28 April 2013

Spring break in Ibiza!

Hi again everyone! I've just gotten back from an amazing two weeks of holidays! After being in the North for the past 7 months, this girl finally got some sun and is glad to report that she looks a little less like Casper the Ghost.

Today, I'm posting a vlog of me and my friend Sue spending spring break in Ibiza! It was an amazing 5 days! I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What to pack when moving overseas

I've never been an over-packer. Practicality has always been my motto. What I've learnt in the time I've been here is that packing for travel and packing for living overseas are two completely different things. If I could give you one piece of advice it's bring a few home comforts because these things make you feel right at home in a place that isn't yet. And don't pack too many "just in case" things. If you really do need it you can get it here.. and 99% of the time you realise you never would've needed/used it.

Here are some items I think are worth bringing and other essentials you shouldn't leave home without:
  1. Favourite bed sheets/pillow case/bedding: Because your bed is were you want to feel the most comfortable. And there's nothing better than feeling like you're in your bed at home, when you've just arrived somewhere new.
  2. Small snacks/food you won't find abroad: To eat when you feel home sick or to share with new people you've met. I brought Vegemite and Tim Tams and it felt nice to have Australia in a small way in my kitchen. Another plus is once you eat it, it's gone. No more weight/space in your suitcase.
  3. Mementos: Whether you bring photos to stick up or a poster or whatever, bring something with you that makes your new home feel like its yours.
  4. Slippers: Nice warm fluffy shoes you can walk around in without having to worry about how dirty the floor of your new apartment is because you haven't had a chance to clean it yet. Plus, who doesn't like slipping into slippers after a long day at work?
  5. Laptop//Tablet: You'll need it. All the time. Don't leave home without it.
  6. Clothes: Based on my experience in the North, the French wear a lot of black, especially during the winter. The winter wardrobe consists of boots, dark blue/black jeans, a top and a dark jacket/coat and scarf- colours are not something you see a lot. I've gotten a few questions from people asking if wearing bright clothing will make them stand out. I say perhaps a little bit, but I always think that you should dress in what you're comfortable in. In general, I think the french dress more classically, with trendy pieces reserved for teenagers. In terms of what to wear to work, follow the lead of your colleagues. My school was neat casual so I wore what I would wear in everyday life, which was easy. Most days I wore jeans and a nice top.
  7. Souvenirs from home: Bring cheap magnets, key rings or postcards from home to give to your school, teachers, friends or as prizes to your students. Bring examples of your home currency too, the students usually find this kind of stuff pretty interesting. Also, it's cool to have a few coins on you when you meet new people, especially if you come from somewhere that they rarely come into contact with. If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked for Australian money...
What things can't you live without when you're packing your suitcase? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A vlog of my life in France!

Hey guys! So, I did something a little different for this post. I thought it might be fun for you to see what I get up to as an assistant in France. I hope that I can do videos more often and show you what I do day to day as well as bring you along on the trips I take too!

If you like the idea of this please comment below and like the video too, so I know I'm doing something you like and want to see! This blog is as much yours as it is mine!



Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A TAPIF timeline: my journey to France!

I know before I started TAPIF, I used to spend hours scouring the internet for any piece of information I could find. Because of this, I wanted to put together a quick timeline for you all just so know what the process was like for me and the different steps there were before I got to France. Of course, this timeline varies between assistants, but you can still get a rough idea of what it's like.

Acceptance email: My acceptance email was sent to me on the 23rd May 2012 a lot later than Americans who had already found out in early to mid-April. In the email, I found out what academie I was placed in and what level I was teaching. In my case, it was the Academie de Lille and high school level. In this email they'll tell you what to do next and if you need to formally accept the position.

Sent documents to France: In order for you academie to issue your work contract (arrêté de nomination) and have it approved, you need to send them some documents. The faster you do this, the better. A few days after my acceptance email, I sent 4 pink CERFA forms and a photocopy of my passport and birth certificate. This was sent to the Rectorat de Lille, but it depends on where you're placed.

The waiting game: From the end of May up until early July, I heard absolutely nothing. I waited by the mailbox for my arrêté de nomination to come and anxiously checked my emails. I used this time to book my visa appointment far enough in advance that I would have likely received the arrêté de nomination by then. I also gathered all the documents I would need for the visa application/appointment.

Email detailing exact school placement: I received an email on July 6th 2012 that told me the schools I had been placed at. It tells you where exactly you'll be in your academie, if you have more than one school and how many hours you'll be teaching at each. It also gives an email, so you can try and get into contact with someone at your school and track down your 'responsable' (if they haven't already contacted you).

Emailed my main school: If you are placed in more than one school, you'll have a 'main' one that takes care of all the administrative stuff for you. It's usually at this school where the teacher looking after you (the 'responsable') will work. I sent them an email and received a reply shortly after telling me who my 'responsable' was and their email address. Something to be aware of is that by this point most teachers are on summer holidays, so you may hear nothing from them until late August- early September. 

Emailed my responsable: Sent an email introducing myself and asked her different questions about housing, arrival etc. Ask them anything you would like to know.

Arrêté de nomination arrived: I finally received my arrêté de nomination in the mail on August 6th 2012 along with other important information.

Attended my visa appointment: With all the documents I needed, I went to the French consulate in Sydney on August 20th 2012, where they shuffled and checked all my documents. I had everything they needed, so they took my passport and said that I should get my visa in around 10 days.

Received passport and visa: Only 5 days later I received my passport with my new visa sticker inside. This is the last administrative thing you need to take care of before you leave for France.

Left for France: On September 18 2012, I left Australia and gave myself 2 weeks before the start of the program to settle in France and go apartment hunting.

STARTED TAPIF: October 1st 2012!


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