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Clermont Ferrand

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When I tell people I’m living in France for a year, their reaction is usually, “How’d you make that happen?”

This is not a drill. With a little planning and a passion for cultural exchange you too could find yourself typing a blog like this one on a school computer in some quaint town in the middle of France. Or Spain. Or South Korea. Or Japan. The list goes on….

You’ll be seeing and reading more about me on Wanderlust because this year, I am living abroad in Clermont Ferrand, France. Through a program called the Teaching Assistant Program in France (commonly known as TAPIF), I am teaching English part-time at two high schools just outside of Clermont-Ferrand.

The program is sponsored by the French government. This year there are more than 4,000 language assistants throughout France, who represent nearly 60 countries and 15 different languages, according to numbers given to us at our orientation. There are opportunities to teach in the countries listed above, among others. For example you can find information about the Spain program here.

To be sure, this program is for a specific kind of person. I have a passion for learning languages, and I am interested in getting teaching experience. I also worked on learning French for several years. To get the job, I filled out an application (all in French) and waited patiently until April 2015 to hear whether I’d been accepted.

But all the hard work was worth it. Why? Here are 5 reasons why coming here was the best decision I have ever made:

  1. I love my city: Clermont Ferrand is the perfect size. It’s an authentic French experience, complete with hiking volcanoes and snacking on some of the best cheese in France. Look out for my future posts to learn more about my town.
  2. I love my students: Teaching English is definitely hard work. It requires some planning, research and organization. But the students are excited to learn English so that makes it worthwhile.
  3. I love vacations: On the French school schedule, about every six weeks we have a two-week break. Cue adventure time! We only worked one full week before our first break. My next post, and my first stop during that vacation: Belgium.
  4. I love the cultural exchange: I am learning so much about France from being in schools and speaking with students. But I also get to share my culture with my students, which has been really exciting. Everything is new and interesting to them, which makes me feel pretty cool.
  5. I love the food: I think nobody would argue with me that the food in France is just better than food in America. And every time I bite into a baguette or eat a slice of delicious cheese, my stomach thanks me for coming to France.
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