I’ve been waiting to write this post because it makes me sad! But there is still hope.
Unfortuntely, a lot of people did not receive those happytime emails in April. Future hopes were washed away with a short rejection letter. I know lot of you dreamt of being in France; France was your plan, you had to be here. Well, gottdammit, let’s find you a way.
Here are a few options:
Short-term volunteer based trips
Now, hopefully, you all had back up plans in mind while waiting to hear from TAPIF. Although, I know for many this was number one, tip-top of the list, no other option.
Gap years are often encouraged for recent graduates so finding some way to travel or work will make you a more rounded (and competitive) candidate for grad school apps or when entering the work force.
A few friend were not accepted into TAPIF, but found an alternative method of getting to France. They became au pairs. Two are living in the suburbs of paris and another is near Nantes. The au pair programs are generally all the same. You interview with a family, submit a CV, resume, necessary documents to prove you’re not a criminal. You live with a care for children of the house, including house work and cooking. You receive an allowance, time off (usually they coincide with the school holidays), and you’re required to attend a language school (usually with other au pairs.)
The link I’ve provided is a general site that connects you to regional agencies. You can of course google to your heart’s content to find au pairing jobs.
Now, volunteering for a short time in the country can lead to future opportunities in that country. There are multiple groups who lead 2-3 week, or longer trips to help rural and urban France.
I found a few general sites what offer a ton of options. Some are language based (teaching english and bettering your french), and others are more ecologically based (green farming, dams, etc.).
You can also look into your local churches and see if they have any mission trips going on you can join. I had a close friend volunteer in Cameroon with her church that planned a short visit to France as well. And I say any international experience is great! Maybe look into other french speaking countries in Polynesia or Africa! Learn a new dialect and do great things for other people.
Fulbright is another way of teaching in France. So through my readings and internet searchings, it seems that TAPIF holds certain positions specifically open for Fulbright scholars. Here’s the thing, if you thought TAPIF was competitive, Fulbright is 1,000 times more competitive. These are grant based teaching contracts or research contracts. They have teaching english as a foreign language (TEFL) specific section which will help you future Fulbrighters. There is also a handy person on your Uni’s campus that can help you with more information on applying, usually they can be found in the Career resource center or equivalents.
Again this could be a chance to explore different countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
A creative way of teaching in France is teaching English at a University. Often, TAPIF assistants will transition into Lecteurs and Lectrices at their local universities as English teachers. The responsibilities are somewhat similar to that of being an assistant, but you get paid more and usually better hours. Usually, these jobs are not well advertised and take some digging. I recommend looking through past assistant’s blogs and finding the ones who took this road after their assistantship, they usually know when these jobs arise. (this counts for other languages as well! Spanish, Italian, Russian, Etc.) I found a pretty neat site that discussed getting into a Lectrice job as well as TAPIF, Paris Unraveled. Work on talking up your teaching experience and being TESOL/TESL/TEFL certified will help you surmount the Master degree ‘requirement’.
Or, just agree to go into a master’s degree program in France! Student and assistant visas are two of the easiest to attain (aside from the tourist visa that doesn’t need an application.) As with most things in France, the university application process is full of photo copies and paperwork, pictures, photocopies of paperwork and pictures and time spent in immigration offices. Again, Paris Unraveled has a little diddy on what to do. I guess they also provided a service that helps you apply for only a few fees.. I say you just be an adult and do it yourself, with the help of past assistants blogs and Facebook groups. One important thing to think about is possibly taking the a language test or provide letters of recommendation to show that you can in fact speak french.
Definitely, network and search for specific universities that interest you. Most/Many, french schools have specific focuses or specialties, much like the BACs in high school. Some universities are more engineering focuses, or more literature based.
And finally, just go on an adventure! Plan sometime to come adventure. Travel with a good backpack, a nice camera, comfy shoes, and a good friend. Sleep in dorm style hostel rooms (Or not), drink at 10 am in Southern France, or Eastern Poland. Use French to get around. Learn about yourself while doing arduous travel conditions, sleeping on trains, or in train stations, or on buses. Missing connections and having to think quickly.
Or stay in hotels and go on tours. Free or paid. Travel the way you want, but stay curious.
Now, sweetlings, You have some new things to research and look through. I hope this helps. I’m hoping to have one of my au pair friends guest blog here.. someday.. hopefully… haha. Let me know what your future plans are! And once I’ve figured mine out, I’ll tell you about mine!
Some good reading for those searching through past assistants blogs can be found on my TAPIF Blogs Tag.