Thursday, 14 June 2012

Advice for those applying for TAPIF

To those of you thinking of applying to TAPIF, here are a few tips I think will help!

1. Start the application as early as possible! 
Try not to leave the application to the last minute because there are so many little things you need to include that may take you awhile to put together. For example: I had approached a professor for a reference but they were unable to do it because they were out of the country, so I had to get someone else instead. Having the leeway to get a different person and allow them enough time to write the reference was a life saver! 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the application is usually due in December/January (depending on where you're from) and at least in Australia this falls after university has finished for the year. The application is also due around the holiday period (Christmas/NewYear) which means a lot of people go away and things are closed which may make the application process more lengthy.

2. Write a great personal statement
Set yourself apart by making it clear that you're there to teach, as well as live in France. I'm sure quite a few people focus too much on living in France and how much they love the culture, the language and the people, but fail to give the teaching aspect of the program enough attention. Be different and address both; make it clear that you love France but that you also want to teach/see yourself doing teaching in the future and illustrate any relevant experience!

3. Get really used to waiting!
This is a lesson I have just learned myself and it was hard, but I think I finally have! Once you apply, you're going to have to wait until April (May/June for Australians) and it's going to really suck! But, don't worry! Everyone is waiting with you and nothing has gone wrong with your application... everything is how it should be!

I waited here a lot and this fed my daydreams of being accepted into the program and living in France until the real thing came along!

It seems daunting putting your application together and knowing so many other people are applying, not to mention potentially having to move to France away from your family and friends, but not applying for it is worse than applying for it and not getting it. Put yourself out there and do it. Thinking you can't do it or you won't get it, is rejecting yourself before the program has even had a chance to reject you!

Good luck everyone!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The easiest way to use the Paris metro!

A few weeks before I was due to fly to Paris in 2010, I was excitedly looking at apps in the App Store hoping that I could find anything that would help me while I was abroad. Eventually, I came across an app that didn't look too flashy nor did it have any reviews, but it looked like it would be handy and it was FREE, so I downloaded it.

Little did I know that this app would become the number #1 thing that would make my time in Paris (and Europe) much, much easier!

The app I downloaded is called 'metrO' and provides public transport journey planners for cities (400 to be exact!) all across the world. How it works is once you've downloaded the cities you're travelling in, you choose the metro station you're starting at and then your desired destination. You can then choose the day and time you wish to travel.  It will then give you a route, telling you what line to take and what stops to get off at, as well as an estimation of how long it's going to take. 

Look below for an example:

Journey starting at Barbès-Rochechouart métro station and ending at Trocadéro metro station.

A major plus for this app was that I never had to carry around a map and figure out Paris' extensive metro network. It also meant that no one could tell I was a tourist and I was really able to blend in with the other Parisian commuters!

Another major plus was that even if I didn't know what stop to get off at to arrive at a certain destination, the app has a snazzy 'places of interest' tool. It meant that I could just write 'Eiffel Tower' or 'Galeries Lafayette' or 'airport' and it would show me how to get there. Amazing! Not only did I use this app in Paris but I also used it extensively in Munich and it never let me down. I didn't get lost once!

Now, this app is something I wouldn't go traveling without. Get this app, all you travelers out there. You won't be sorry!

Find more information at

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How do I choose my Académie/Region for TAPIF?

I know a lot of you out there are thinking about applying for TAPIF or are currently putting together your application and are wondering "What académies/regions should I pick?"

What you need to remember is that you're not guaranteed to be placed in the biggest city in your region or even the region itself. Having said that, you can still improve your chances of getting what you want by choosing wisely and hoping everything falls in place!

For me, choosing my regions was the hardest part of the application, but never fear! Look below for five awesome tips that I'm sure will help you to make a decision!

TAPIF académies

1. Do I want to live in the city or the country?
If you want to improve your chances of being in or around the city choose regions that are smaller in size so that your chances of being far from the city are less likely. Regions like Strasbourg, Lille and Rouen are good bets. If being in the country or being in smaller villages is more your thing choose large regions like Orléans-Tours, Clermont-Ferrand and Poitiers which carry higher chances of being placed in smaller villages away from the big city in the region.

2. Do I want to travel?
If you love to travel like I do, choosing a region that is close to other countries you would like to visit and well-connected in terms of trains, buses and airplanes is important. Big cities within France such as Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseille and Lille are good hubs from which you can travel abroad. Some regions are close to other countries, making it possible to take little trips on weekends without too much hassle.

For example:
  • Lille is only 80-90 minutes away from London, 60 minutes from Paris, Brugge and Brussels.
  • Strasbourg is only a little over 2 hours from Paris, 3 hours to Munich, Germany and Bern, Switzerland.
Overall, you should be pretty well connected no matter what region you live in, but if you would like to make the most of your time in France on weekends and not just on holidays, choose regions that are close to other cities you would like to visit!

3. What type of weather do I like?
Some people are summer lovers, others are winter lovers, so depending on your preference this should probably factor into your decision. If cold weather doesn't bother you choose regions in the North. If the sun is where you want to be, choose regions further South that have a mediterranean climate with more milder/warmer temperatures.

4. Money, money money!
As I'm sure you all know the teaching assistant salary is not going to make you Bill Gates, so choosing a region that's not heavy on the wallet will be a major consideration for a lot of you. If you're low on funds stay away from big cities like Paris and those in the South (Marseille, Nice, Montpellier) where living costs are high. Choose smaller, more quaint regions like Caen, Rouen and Rennes where living costs are more affordable. Overseas French territories like Guadeloupe, Réunion, Martinique and Guyane attract higher salaries which is something some of you might like to keep in mind.

5. How good is my French?
If a major priority for you is to improve your French then stay away from big cities where English is more widely spoken. Better language acquisition will happen in smaller cities and villages. By the same token, if your French is a little weak then stick to bigger cities where you will be less challenged and might be able to get away with less French.

I hope this guide helps you to decide where in France you want to live!


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