I thought that opening a bank account was going to be no big deal; after all, my host teacher was kind enough to make an appointment for me at her bank and was going to be coming with me, and the last assistant had successfully opened an account there as well. I had plenty of time before the deadline to turn in my paperwork so that I would get paid for the first month.
Or so I thought.Read more
While everyone’s experiences at their schools were pretty different, one fairly common experience was being grilled by students the first “observation week.” Some of the questions I got included:
“Do you have children?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
And my personal favorite: “Are you a vegetable?” (The student was trying to say “vegetarian.”)Read more
One of the things that seemed the most daunting about moving to France was finding a place to live, especially since I kept hearing that I should just wait until I got there to figure it out. I ended up lucking out and had to do pretty much no work, but here are some ways that other assistants I know have found housing, roughly in order from easiest to hardest:
As you might be able to tell, I have this weird, fierce loyalty to Bethune, but when I was first going to France, I had a tough time deciding whether to live in a town or city. I was seriously considering living in Lille, the closest big city to where I was assigned. I’d always lived in the suburbs or in small towns in the past and didn’t want to keep relying on friends in the city for a couch to crash on. I fully expected that if I was living in a smaller town, I’d be bored and would want to keep commuting into the city.
I was so wrong. Here are the reasons why:Read more
I know I keep saying that I got really lucky with my TAPIF experience, but once again, I was fortunate to be able to stay with my host teacher’s family when I first got to France, and they were really understanding when I could barely understand French and passed out for something like fourteen hours on my first day (maybe my second too…). For people who don’t have that option or really prefer their own space, here are some alternatives, from cheapest to more expensive:
Update: Check out “Every single item on my packing list” for…(wait for it) every single item on my TAPIF packing list!
Just wrote a nice long version of this post and it was deleted, so here’s a quick rundown of some learned-the-hard-way things I wish I’d known a year ago, for anyone who’s doing some last-minute packing for TAPIF:
Since finishing up TAPIF, I published a few articles in other publications about travel, finances, and environmentalism. Check them out here: How to Find A Job & Travel The World, Gently This article will be of particular interest to anyone who’s thinking of doing TAPIF or who wants to think more about how to travel in aRead more
The students are still working on figuring out if I really don’t speak French and have been hard at work trying to get me to trip up. One persistent student’s attempt:
“So what do you watch on TV?”
“What about when you go to the grocery store?”
“Do you know what French kiss is? It’s very famous!”Read more
Pretty much anyone who knows me learns early on that I care about the environment. A lot. Like at the age of 25 I’m still not sure what name I should go by, but I know that working on environmental issues is what I will do with my life in some form or another, no question.
However, travel has been a huge part of my life, and it’s not exactly great for the environment. It’s also a huge part of this blog, hence an existential crisis about whether I’m doing more net harm than good.
I’m developing a campaign for my town to reduce carbon emissions and I’ve been reading a lot about the role of personal action in mitigating climate change. Air travel is a huge contributor to a person’s carbon footprint (the amount of carbon emissions someone’s responsible for).
As someone who’s second generation, I was born into flying more than my fair share. A large chunk of my family, including my grandparents, still live in India, meaning that ever since I was a baby, I’ve been flying halfway around the world to see the people I love. I also find myself feeling more and more at home here and know that I’m going to want to come back.
George Monbiot calls these “love miles: the distance you must travel to visit friends and partners and relatives on the other side of the planet.” While I know how privileged I am that my family prioritized this time and was able to afford to do so, I also wonder how I can cut my impact, especially since I’ve been spending the past couple of years gaining more and more love miles.
This guilt is absolutely a “first world problem”: the 2-3% of people who are able to take flights are responsible for 5% of global emissions. However, this is also a problem with worldwide impacts that are just going to get worse as air travel continues to expand. We need practical solutions. What to do?Read more
Bethune had its own Carnaval celebration, which was more family-oriented than the one at Dunkerque and yet, was still marred by troupes of people in blackface.