Author: Anne Donnelly

Those who can, teach

There’s a pervasive notion, especially among expat communities that I’ve noticed, and that has been getting under my skin more and more recently. The idea is treating teaching English as a side hustle, something you do to support your lifestyle abroad even if it’s not something you actually care about or even like. This is a concept I have heard repeated in TAPIF or Expat groups, by bloggers, even by some of my own friends, and it’s something that, especially recently, makes my blood boil ! I have seen countless assistants arrive in France with absolutely no desire to teach, coasting along through their placements with the bare minimum effort and spending the rest of their time planning their vacations to every corner of Europe. Now, I will admit this is okay for a language assistant. It’s a short commitment and it’s designed to be a mobility program : they expect you to take advantage of being in Europe! If you don’t take the job seriously…. tant pis. It’s not like you really have any …

Sun sun go away

It’s official. The French weather authorities crunched the numbers and determined that Marseille was the sunniest city in France in 2017. Our 3,110 hours of sunlight beat out Nice (3,047) and Corsica (3,036 in Solenzara). So a weird thing about living in Marseille is that I am constantly complaining about how much sun there is, especially in the winter. I am 100% here for sunny, warm days you can spend lounging on the beach or drinking rosé on a sunny terrasse. But when it’s cold and sunny, you sit inside all day wishing you could be outside, but knowing you won’t last more than a half hour at most before giving up in favor of warm toes. And when that freezing Mistral blows, no amount of sunlight can make me go outside. This is where I really see the value of lousy weather. Isn’t it sublime to curl up on the couch while rain lashes the windows and you take a sip of warm tea? Is there any excuse better than a massive thunderstorm to …

Wandering feet Wandering mind

I’m on day 3 of 10 days of traveling during school vacation and I’ve already walked 30+ miles in dirty keds and two pairs of socks. My toes feel permanently cramped, and I’m having sense memories of my high school era shin splints. But if you must walk an average of 15 miles a day, Rome is not a bad place to do it ! I spent a regrettably short amount of time in the Eternal City and the only things on my itinerary for the roughly 36 hours were to see some famous monuments and eat as much as possible. Mission Accomplished! What I love about traveling alone is that I’m not beholden to anyone as I plan my day. Want to walk 25 minutes out of the way to eat at a certain sandwich place someone recommended? Let’s do it. Feel like going back to that cute café even though you spent two hours reading there yesterday? Nothing stopping you. Make it up as you go along and suddenly your pedometer reads 38,000 …

Christmas Tag!

Happy Holidays everyone!! 🎄🎄 I was nominated by Bola and Kenny for the Christmas Tag, a fun survey of holiday related questions and answers. It’s been fun to read about everyone’s different traditions 🙂 I’m currently on a bus to Nice to catch a flight to Prague, a nice alternative to distract myself from the fact that I won’t be seeing my family for the second Christmas in a row. What Is Your Favourite Christmas Film? It would have to be a toss up between White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby and the gorgeous Vera Ellen dance numbers. And I have been such a huge Jimmy Stewart fan ever since my mom and I marathoned all the Alfred Hitchcock films back when Hollywood Video still existed. I introduced It’s a Wonderful Life to my French roommate a few weeks ago, and gosh darn if the ending doesn’t make me cry every single time! She was also very touched by the film and said …

Remember me??

Helloooo again! Me voilà! I’ve been back in Marseille for exactly 2 months (as of yesterday), and have like 6 blog posts on my back burner, but can’t seem to get any of them finished. So I’m putting out this little snapshot update, in the hopes that it will jumpstart my blogging again! Lots has happened in the past 2 months, but also not much has happened at all… I found a new (French!) roommate, I met new assistants, I caught up with old friends and colleagues, I started back at school and then immediately went on two weeks of vacation, I went to a concert, I bought theatre tickets, I went hiking, I rode a city bike, I went to the beach – a lot, I started two puzzles, I drank tea and pastis and wine and lemonade, I finished one of the puzzles, I bought seven plants…. The list goes on. So here are some highlights and lowlights: Highs & Lows I’d say on the whole, these two months have been full of …

What to Expect as a Primary English Assistant : 8 Questions and Answers

After my first TAPIF placement in Chambéry, I noticed that much of the TAPIF blogging community focuses on assistants in secondary schools. This is completely normal, as there are far more people placed at the secondary level! There are many commonalities between the expectations and experiences of primary and secondary assistants; there are also many specifics that are quite different. So, I wanted to create a resource specifically for primary teaching assistants, since teaching in elementary schools comes with its own challenges and circumstances that aren’t talked about as often. I’m about to start my third year teaching primary level English, and in that time I’ve experienced many different types of classrooms, colleagues, and schools. I thought now would be a great time to update my initial Primary Assistant FAQ post to include some of the new insights and tips I’ve gained in my two years as a teaching assistant in the académies of Grenoble (Chambéry) and Aix-Marseille (Marseille), as well as anecdotes from the many primary assistants I know and have worked with. This …

Get off our Lawn

Charlottesville, Virginia is one of my favorite places in the world. It was my home for four years while I attended the University of Virginia, and there’s still a part of me would be willing to move back in a heartbeat. Lots of people are emotionally attached to their university towns, but Charlottesville is truly special. A little blue dot in a sea of rural right-wingers, this little town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains is progressive, artistic, quirky, and utterly charming. Today, and for the past few months, Charlottesville has become the epicenter for a kind of bigotry and hatred that the country hasn’t seen in decades, and I’m pretty conflicted about it. My home state of Virginia is home to a violent and oppressive history. Thomas Jefferson’s university was built by slaves. There is a confederate graveyard in the middle of its grounds. Construction of a new academic building halted when they uncovered a slave cemetery. “Tradition” is honored above all, often to the detriment of progressive change. In short, UVA is full …