All posts filed under: Preparations

Académie d’Aix-Marseille: Anne in Marseille

Originally posted on Alexandra Woodfin:
This guest post is brought to you by Anne over at Present Perfect, who was previously an assistante in the Académie de Grenoble and has compared her experience in both. When I first applied to TAPIF, I put off ranking my académie preferences for so long that I’m pretty sure I ended up choosing more or less at random… Thankfully, I lucked into the stunning Académie de Grenoble and the amazing city of Chambéry. HOLD THE PHONE! you’re thinking. I came to page looking for info on the Académie d’Aix-Marseille! T’inquiète mon ami –  I’ve already written volumes on how much I love Chambéry, which I definitely invite you to read. But I’m here today to tell you some more about my current home: Marseille. For my second go-around in TAPIF, I was looking for a different, new experience. I had visited Marseille during one of my vacations and felt somehow drawn to this city of a million contradictions despite the short stay. I had a feeling there was a…

The Great Marseille Apartment Hunt of 2016

The wily explorer arrived to the Marseillais jungle with an accommodation booked for one week, and one goal: to finally capture a rare wild apartment. Having hunted before in this country (albeit a different region), she felt thoroughly prepared. She conjured memories of her last wild apartment hunt in the mountainous region of Chambéry;  a lot of time spent in mortal terror, exhausted from travel, terrified at the prospect of making calls in a foreign language, ultimately unsure how she finally managed to finally trap one. “I know it’ll be difficult,” she thought. “But at least this time I know what I’m up against.” Oh, how the explorer was mistaken. She arranged her hunting tools first: a French phone number, a grammatically corrected introduction, an empty notebook, an internet connection. Then, she took a deep breath and lunged into the hunt. She traversed Leboncoin, crossing occasionally into Appartager and dipping toes into PAP and local agencies. She left voice messages, text messages, email messages but still the wild apartment eluded her. She filled four pages …

writing and writing and writing

I feel like I’ve been writing all day… I spent all morning writing cover letters, updating CVs, composing emails. I spent a few hours this afternoon writing responses to my online bookclub, engaging and discussing with other readers. Then, I edited all that job stuff some more. What’s worse is they’re all in French (except the bookclub!) which makes the process take about 10 times longer. Usually my job application process is pretty streamlined: Update resume with recent developments Write cover letter using the building blocks from countless cover letters I’ve already written Maybe send both to my mom or a trusted friend if I’m feeling really anxious Spend 2 minutes composing a simple introductory email to attach my documents to Hit send. Today my process is more like this: Study a whole bunch of examples of French CVs (they’re different than American ones!) Start my template with a healthy dose of copy/paste Google things like “professeur remplaçante description pour CV” to make sure I’ve got some French buzzwords to use Start my cover letter with a …

My Suitcase Can Only Weigh HOW MANY Pounds?! And other packing concerns.

I’ve gotten a few questions recently about packing for TAPIF. Figuring out what to bring for seven months, in a strange country, for a professional job, which takes place over mostly winter-y months, all while keeping in mind airline limits is not a simple task. My number one recommendation is: make sure you can carry what you pack. You’ll inevitably have to lug your luggage through the airport, onto a train, through a metro system, across cobblestones and up 5 flights of stairs, and while passersby are generally kind to someone in need of an extra hand, you’ll be much more confident if you know you can at least manage it on your own if no one is around to help. After that, what you bring and what you leave behind is more or less your prerogative, but here are some of the guidelines I used.

Primary Assistant FAQ

In my time obsessively stalking all TAPIF blogs past, current and future, I’ve noticed the prevalence of secondary assistants across the interweb. It makes sense: there are way more of them! There are commonalities between the expectations and experiences of primary and secondary assistants, but seeing as most of the info out there seems to be geared towards the secondary level, I want to share some ideas that will be specifically helpful to current and future primary assistants, as they can be very different jobs.

Blog Update: TAPIF Timeline!

So, here’s the truth: that tangled web of French bureaucracy people go on about…didn’t seem to ensnare me very effectively, In fact, I had a fairly tame run-in with the infamous institution: my CAF subsidy came on time, I even got my carte vitale right after Christmas! So, even though I’m sure it was just beginner’s luck and nothing at all having to do with skill, I wanted to share my TAPIF timeline: when I booked my tickets, when I found an apartment, when I submitted important documents and how long the various processes all took. If you have more specific questions about anything, ASK in the comments and I will do my best to respond!!! And remember, my experiences won’t mirror yours: my experiences didn’t mirror the other assistants in my town, even when we went together to submit the exact same documents to the same people at the same time! I’m definitely not an expert, but I figure at the very least maybe this will put your mind at ease by giving you a modicum of an …

The Waiting Game: making it through the long summer before TAPIF

April 1st, 2015: I woke up in the morning to a text from my friend Giulia: Attention aux poissons sur ton dos! I arrived at school and every child had a little paper fish on their desk that they “sneakily” tried to tape on people’s backs. In France, April Fool’s Day is Poisson d’Avril, and these fish are part of the practical joke tradition. Later, I heard about a teacher who tried to trick her kindergarteners into doing worksheets meant for 5th grade, another who spent an hour teaching his class Chinese, as a “new school initiative”, and another who announced a fake pop quiz. We decorated fish during art class!