Expat Interview: Teaching in France
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Catherine Rose is an American expat living and teaching in France. Her blog, La Vie en C-Rose, documents her life abroad. Here, she tells Medibroker about the difficulties and differences expats encounter in France.
Where are you from originally and what was your reason for moving to France?
I´m originally from California, and I spent five years in Chicago before moving to Paris. I had always dreamed of living in France, and when I found myself at a crossroads at age 25, I decided to go.
Before leaving Chicago I got my TEFL certificate at the International TEFL Academy. When I arrived in Paris, I applied to language schools as an English teacher and found some work, but the first year was difficult. My TEFL advisor had warned me that it might be easier to do the TAPIF language assistant program in France, but I resisted for several reasons. Ultimately, I did continue my time in France thanks to that program and it did make things a lot easier as a non-European. The following year, I was hired as a university lectrice, and I will be continuing to teach at the university until 2016.
While planning your move, what was the biggest obstacle?
Visas can be a huge problem for Americans in France. We don't even qualify for a working holiday visa like Canadians and Australians do. Therefore, employment options are often limited.
What have you learned from your experience of living abroad?
I've learned to slow down. I think in the US, at least in my experience, we are very focused on productivity, and we are so busy because there's always something we should be doing. So it was odd to me at first to spend a Sunday afternoon just sitting at home and walking around the garden.
How did you settle into your new life?
My life shifts often - I've moved apartments at least twice a year since 2012. Since I have to renew my visa on an annual basis with no guarantee that I'll be able to stay here, it's difficult to settle in, so to speak.
However, my belle famille, my boyfriend's family, has been so welcoming to me, and they are my anchor of stability in France.
What’s the biggest cultural difference between home and France?
There are many little things, but for me, the big one is efficiency. Efficiency is not always a priority here. Sometimes it is! And that's a nice surprise. But not always.
How do you handle the language barrier?
I speak French fluently, but sometimes it is nice to hang out with other expats and speak "American." When I first arrived in France I didn't want to meet other Anglophones, but I've realized that it's great to have a network of expat friends. I love going to parties with a mix of nationalities and languages, including French.
What has been your most memorable experience since moving?
I've loved getting to travel around France. It's such a beautiful country! Last summer my boyfriend and I visited Sète and Montpellier, one of my favorite cities in France, and then I spent a month in Paris, which is always a good idea. This year I'll return to Paris and hopefully the Côte d'Azur, and I'm planning to visit the Bourgogne region for the first time.
What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of moving to France to teach?
I've written an honest post about it here, but essentially, be as informed as possible about jobs and visas, and have a safety net.
CatherineRose is an American expat in Lyon, France. She blogs about expat life and travel at LaVieEnCRose.com. You can also find her on Instagram (@la.vie.en.c.rose) Twitter (@LaVieEnC_Rose) and Pinterest (@LaVieEnCRose).
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