Six months gone by…

It seems like all of my posts recently have begun in the same way: “Wow, I can’t believe it’s been such a long time since the last time I wrote! Oof, it’s been a crazy couple of months – hard to find time to write! Yikes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?!”

So anyway…. it’s been a while, hasn’t it!?

Last time I wrote, it was the beginning of June, I had just returned to the US from Marseille, and had a couple of days off before beginning 9 intense weeks of non-stop summer camp. Since then, I successfully finished that marathon of skits and crafts, I attended my best friend’s wedding, moved back to France, started a Masters degree, got settled in a new city, and even fractured a bone! So, yeah. I’d say that it’s been a busy couple of months!

So, here’s what you should know about what’s been going on with me since June:

  1. I still live in France.
  2. In September, I moved from Marseille to Toulouse, in the south west, near the Spanish border and Pyrenées (and just a quick train or bus ride to Barcelona, for anyone who’s thinking of their next vacation…!)
  3. It took me AGES to find an apartment in Toulouse. It was seriously a major nightmare, and an extremely stressful period, but I do now luckily have a roof over my head and even a washing machine !
  4. I live on my own in a teeny studio in a 5th floor walk-up. Although it’s not the most ideal set-up, and I have a terrible kitchen that takes 45 minutes to boil water (only a slight exaggeration) I’m enjoying living on my own for (almost) the first time (besides the 9 months I lived in a studio in my 4th year of college).
  5. They call pains au chocolat chocolatines here. I’m still not used to it.
  6. I’m not a language assistant anymore.
  7. I enrolled in the first year of a Masters degree at the University of Toulouse II/Ecole Supérieure du professorat et de l’education (ESPE) so that I can take a competitive exam in March that could allow me to become a full-time language teacher in French schools.
  8. It’s really freaking hard. Like 30+ hours of class time per week plus endless homework hard.
  9. I have classes in translation, literature, civilization, linguistics, pedagogy, and a variety of other classes that are meant to prepare us or the afore-mentioned competitive exam, called a concours.
  10. Most of the classes are taught in a mixture of French and English. Only a small handful are 100% in English, and a much larger handful are 100% in French.
  11. There are a handful of other anglophones in the Master, but I’m the only American 🙌 🇺🇸
  12. This week, an English professor marked several expressions as incorrect on an English translation I did, because they’re not used in British English… he gave me the points back in the end once I explained that they were correct in American English, but now I’m wondering if maybe I should learn British as a third language to help me pass my exams ???
  13. I fractured my toe at the end of October and while I officially stopped limping several weeks ago, I am currently living a 9-toenail life. (horrible gruesome pictures on demand!!)
  14. I only had to pay like 8 euro per doctor’s appointment. #thanksFrance
  15. I’ve been back to Marseille almost every single month and I STILL have stuff left in my old apartment to bring back to Toulouse…. Oh well, guess I’ll have to keep making trips ! 😀
  16. I wish I had time to really discover Toulouse the way I was able to discover Marseille. But going from working 12-18 hours per week to having a near endless stream of class/studying to do makes that difficult…
  17. The people in my class are generally really nice and supportive of one another, despite the fact that we will eventually be competing against each other for a limited number of jobs.
  18. They all speak English more or less proficiently… there are deffffinitely some interesting accents though! 😂
  19. I have managed to find a small group of friends – French and Italian – although we’re a very studious bunch, so even when we go to the bar or hang out outside of class, it’s usually to do group work. While I appreciate the low-key group study time (because studying by yourself gets sad after a while!), I do miss the zero-responsibility language assistant social life haha! I’m sure we will find a better balance once the looming concours is passed.
  20. Toulouse has been very much affected by the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests just as much as Paris. There have been protests every weekend since November, and though they are mostly calm, there have unfortunately been several incidents of thugs (casseurs) who infiltrate the peaceful protests to wreak havoc.
  21. I got tear gassed in my own apartment. The police were trying to control a section of a protest that had gotten out of control and set off tear gas directly outside my building. The gas infiltrated the lobby just as I was trying to leave to catch a train to Paris so I could go home for Christmas… The gas’ effects were so painful, I thought I would be trapped in my apartment forever and miss my flight and have the worst, saddest Christmas of all time.
  22. I made it out, literally ran to the train station because the metro had been shut down, and made it onto my train with 2 minutes to spare.
  23. I spent Christmas at home for the first time in a LONG time! And my family hosted everyone for the first time EVER!
  24. My fam knows how to throw a good party !!! Complete with excessive Christmas decorations!
  25. Although I definitely enjoyed my time with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in ages, I’m not sure I fully appreciated the fact that I might not be home for a pretty long time…
  26. For the big scary concours, I have to do two 5-hour written exams on March 27th and 28th. If I pass, then I “get” to do 2 EVEN HARDER 3-hour oral exams sometime in June/July TBD. If I finish in the top 151 of all the people taking the same concours throughout the country, then I get a job for liiiiiiiife! (in France, at least)
  27. People keep asking me if my goal is to stay in France forever…….. My answer is that I really like what I’m doing here right now, and so I guess I’ll keep doing that until I don’t want to anymore. Maybe the U.S. will call me back to her sunny shores… maybe I’ll fail the concours and my visa won’t get renewed and I’ll have to make up a plan B… but for now, I like where I am and so I’m gonna keep doing that until I don’t like it anymore!

So that’s a somewhat comprehensive overview…….. I would love to write some more things soon, although I’m really not sure if I’ll have the time/brain power. But could you do me a favor? If you’ve read this and you’re in any way intrigued by what’s going on in my life, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to read about!!! Want to know about applying to French universities or what it’s like to be a student in France? Want to know more about Toulouse ? or Marseille ? The gilets jaunes ? My teaching concours ? My classes ?? Tell me and I promise I will write it … eventually !!!! xoxoxo ❂

14 thoughts on “Six months gone by…

  1. Yes, I’m intrigued because you seem so strong to be living in a foreign country, taking the most difficult path to teaching. I hope you find time to explore Toulouse and savor the small moments by journaling. Best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyone who is tear gassed in their own apartment and then still runs to catch the train should definitely qualify to stay in France! You should qualify for honorary French citizenship. 👏 Best of luck with the exams!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is! But my friend lives across the street!! Luckily her building was completely unaffected, but she was up all night out of fear that it would spread and she’d have to evacuate! How scary !!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I did TAPIF last year in la Drôme and started following your blog there… I enjoyed using drama techniques in my classroom, and I lived in DC for a couple of years prior to TAPIF, so I enjoyed reading your posts. I would love to hear about how you applied to French university, and maybe if you’ve taken the DELF or DALF? I’m preparing for the scary C1 exam right now.


    1. Awesome !! I will definitely do a post about that 🙂 I took the TCF, not the DALF so I don’t have a ton of advice there, unfortunately. Thanks for reading and courage for your exam!! 🙂


  4. Wow, you had a wild six months! Grad school is no joke, wherever you go in the world. It’s admirable you plan to stay in France to teach: doing a Masters for it shows you really are dedicated! Out of curiosity, will having it guarantee you any teaching job in French schools or is there something else that needs to be done, e.g. teacher-assistant training? All the best to you (and hope your toe recovers well!).


    1. Thanks!! I will do the Capes concours in March/June and if I get it, then I will be guaranteed a job in private schools under contract with the éducation nationale. The master in and of itself would probably help me get hired at non éducation nationale schools or on a short-term contract basis, but it’s the concours that guarantees job security. Plus you need to have an M1 (or be in the course of getting one) in order to sit the concours. Part of the master is a 4 week practical stage (ie student teaching) and the M2 consists of working part time as a stagiaire/apprentice alongside finishing coursework and writing a mémoire.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So far so good! As a non-European, I’m required to enter the private school system, but otherwise the concours and courses and everything are the same as the public school system. Thanks for reading 🙂


  5. Ouch – a fractured toe and tear-gassed in your own apartment! I’m seriously impressed by how you managed to run to the station with suitcases in tow in that state. Also, as a Brit, “maybe I should learn British as a third language” really gave me a giggle! On a vaguely related note, have you seen this article on the BBC about British expressions and how Americans interpret them? Best of luck with the CAPES – I’d be interested to hear what student life is like in France, having only been on the other side myself (teaching English in a university, rather than studying anything).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Luckily my toe was more or less healed by Christmas but it was still a very harrowing half hour hahah. Thanks for the suggestion, I definitely hope to write lots more about being a student in France (though I suspect being a master student is quite different and more particular than doing a license) !! I skimmed through that article the other day! Fascinating how two nations can speak the same language but have so many nuances and misunderstandings between them!

      Liked by 1 person

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