Hindsight is 20/20: Logistics in the French classroom

Not only do you need to do a bit of research on how the French school system works and preparing yourself mentally before you start working in the classroom, you also need to keep in mind that as a language assistant, you will need to access tools and materials so that you can probably teach and get involved with your lessons.

In my first few weeks as a teaching assistant, there were so many awkward situations and struggles that I experienced simply because I assumed either that people would tell me the important information that I would need to know or assumed that because I was only an assistant that I wasn’t allowed access to certain tools, such as the computers/copy machine and having access to the classrooms when I needed them. This led me to having to borrow keys from fellow teachers because I assumed that I wasn’t allowed to have keys to the classrooms or having to borrow other teachers’ pass codes to the computer because no one told me that I had my own personal code or that I was even allowed to have one. Again, this led to many awkward situations. So, as a language assistant, you should be prepared to just simply ask for things and consider getting access to certain things so as to avoid embarrassing and awkward situations. If the answer is no, at least you know the answer and you don’t have to always deal without something that you could potentially use or with being unsure.

So, it is my advice to you to ask for the following if you aren’t old upfront when you first start teaching.

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Learning to swim in a vast ocean: experiencing culture shock in my own country

Having lived abroad twice now, culture shock is a dear old friend of mine, one with whom I’ve been acquainted with and with whom I’ve spent a decent amount of time. I’ve seen both sides of this friend: the shock of living in a new country and the shock of having that country change you, leaving you not understanding your own country. I understand what to expect: the emotions, the fears, the excitement, the confusion. I know when to expect it. Both times that I lived in France, culture shock started creeping up on me about 2 weeks to a month into my experience. I am familiar with how culture shock affects me: never wanting to leave my room, crying myself to sleep, feeling alone, feeling like my head is going to explode with all the new information, feeling lost, and wanting to go back and forget it immediately, but I also know how to combat culture shock: forcing myself to look at the positives of my situation, writing about my experiences, forcing myself to go out and meet people and to try new things. I feel as though I am well versed in how my dear friend culture shock likes to operate.

However, what I did not expect was to be experiencing it in my own country and own culture.

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Hindsight is 20/20: Cutting costs on daily living in France

Moving back to France to teach ESL was not only a dream come true, but one of my main goals of moving back to Europe was to travel as much as possible, especially because of how much vacation time I expected to have. Traveling means having to spend money, and the more money that I could save on everyday living expenses, the more that I could travel. So, it is known that language assistants don’t make all the money in the world, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t manageable. So, for all of my fellow language assistants out there, I wanted to share with you how I managed to save money on everyday costs so that I could travel to 11 countries (including France) and 29 cities on my humble assistant salary.

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Can you tell I’m not from here?: Anecdotes of moving to Milwaukee

I finally am sitting in air conditioning, drinking a cold brew coffee at this cute, quirky, and hippiesque coffee shop on Brady street, and it feels so good. You never realize how much you could appreciate air conditioning until you start living without it, as I’m going to have to do from here on out. No matter. There are definitely worse things in life. I just have learned to appreciate air conditioning much more in the last few days.

Besides not having any air conditioning in my apartment, definitely something I’m going to have to adjust to, Milwaukee has greeted me mostly kindly, though it’s had it’s moments. Let me tell you some stories.

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