Lonely Lockdown in La France

It’s difficult to scribble down what’s been going through my mind as of late.

It’s been 2 weeks; we have survived!

Yet, I find myself still reaching for the light.

Do I really see it – far off ahead?

Or is it just a reflection off the additional dead?

Dare I leave the house to keep my family fed?

Bodies are beginning to stand single file

As the supermarket clerks fill every aisle

Will this plague finish with a bang?

Or will we end in silent ashes

Blowing in the wind?

I’ve been wanting to write a post about the quarantaine and its déroulement in the south of France but I haven’t been able to find the time – nor the words.

I guess now is the right time. While my daughter innocently dreams the afternoon away, I’m left alone with social media and my wandering thoughts. I need to get them out.

It’s difficile to find the truth in all this média madness. All I want (all anyone wants, I imagine) is the TRUTH! The latest numbers (recorded 27 Mars 2020 at 2:00pm) from Santé Publique: In France, there are 32,964 registered cases (the key word: Registered) and 1,995 recorded deaths from COVID-19.

Added to the latest numbers this past week is a 16 year old teen. Let that empathy kick in: Imagine if it were your daughter. My daughter. Something I hadn’t really considered before as we had been “told” that COVID-19 doesn’t affect children too badly. Just one more raison not the leave the house.

There’s a lovely map app that the Santé Publique has created to keep the publique aware of the situation in France indicating the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 (and other illnesses – if you’re interested). Should I feel relieved that I’m not currently in Paris nor in Strasbourg (nor their surrounding areas, of course)? In my département, there are still over 500 cases… No one is invincible.

So, what can we do? What can I do? There’s so much to consider – especially when mon chéri still works (he works in hospice and in-home older adult care). The French government has cracked down on the government enforced quarantaine – and they have every right to do so.

Should you leave your premises, you must: Have an Attestation De Déplacement Dérogatoire and a proper I.D. If you’re out because you’re working, then you must also have an Attestation from your employer with your working hours on it. From my understanding, this does not need to be printed out because it can be shown from a smart phone or tablet. New additions to the rules: You are only allowed to spend a total of 1 hour per day out (does not including working) and sporting and grocery purposes must take place within 1 km of your residence.

Things to remember before leaving your premises with the Attestation de Déplacement:

  • It must be printed out OR handwritten
  • It must be date and time stamped (or handwritten)
  • It must have the address from where you left
  • It must be 100% filled in (including a check mark in the appropriate box explaining why you’re out and about)

It may seem strange to have to carry around a document explaining why you’re out, but there is a point to it: Maybe, you don’t really need to leave the house. It forces us to think twice before leaving. At least, in theory. I have only left the house twice since the lockdown started on March 17. Both times were for groceries. Mon chéri and I have decided that from now on, he will be the one to pickup the groceries since he’s already exposing himself by continuing to work outside the home.

The point of being in confinement is to distance ourselves from others. It can get quite lonely – even with a 4 year old running amuck. In this time of confinement, we need to remember that we are not alone. Be gentle to yourselves and stay safe.

How are you doing?

Chapitre 27: Rebirth in Paris

When one thinks of France, the beautiful urban city of Paris usually comes to mind.

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Which, of course, is a no brainer: With it being featured in many films and holding a top spot in the world of fashion…

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2012 Autumn season Louis Vuitton window display: Kusama

…no wonder Paris is unanimously considered France.

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Paris has been deemed the “ville des amoureux” (city of love)

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Le Pont des Arts (c.2012)

 

but is really the “ville des lumières”, with all of that light pollution.

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Le Champs Elysées (c.2012)

When I first stepped foot in Paris, it was 2002. I came to witness my cousin betroth a française. It was love at first sight: Me+Paris! It was such a short trip (barely even a week) that it had me longing to return! So, of course, when the opportunity came during a study abroad in the south of France, I jumped on that TGV with my friends

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and high sped to the land of dreams-can-come-true, as I like to call it, but I’ll save that story for another post.

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Of course, upon arrival, we visited some of the extremely touristy places, like the Louvre, to fulfill our artsy taste buds,

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but, we also checked out several low-key areas that we never would have encountered had it not been for our “self-guided walking tour”.

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5 Raisons to “TGV” your way to Paris:

  • Unisex bathrooms. This is becoming more and more popular in the states, but the first time I ever saw a “real” unisex bathroom was at a Chipotle in Paris. 1I’ve never seen this before (before 2012) at any Chipotle in the Chicagoland area. It was pretty awesome because it was normal. Nobody considered it “sexual” and nobody was trying to do anything “sexual” in it. Of course, one can find unisex toilettes everywhere in France; but there’s nothing like going to a unisex toilette in a restaurant that’s from the Mother Land. An “all inclusive” taste from home.
  • Artwork requiring public participation. 56There are musées where visitors get lost, figuratively, in the artwork…Then, there are musées where visitors get lost, literally, in the piece. 2
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    Aménagement de l’antichambre des appartements privés du palais de l’Elysée pour le président Georges Pompidou, 1974, by Yaacov Agam

    Visitors become part of displays at the musée, Le Centre de Pompidou.3 This certainly takes art moderne to another level.

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    THEVERYMANY by Marc Fornes

     

  • Free artwork and architectural viewings.
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    Paroisse Saint-Germain L’auxerrois

    There’s one type of “musée” that we often forget: Churches.

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    Paroisse Saint-Germain L’auxerrois

    Sure, there’s Notre Dame (a Cathédrale, not a church) and Saint Chapelle (Saint Chapelle is payant) but there’s also other, less popular but lovely, churches that are free to visit.

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    Paroisse Saint-Germain L’auxerrois

    If you’re on a tight budget, have look at some of the free églises (churches) – you won’t be disappointed!

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    Eglise Saint Eustach

  • Bountiful talented street musicians/performers.9While street performers can be found in most urban cities, there’s nothing better than appreciating their talent on a beau pont with the Seine in the background.
  • Free potable water. 10There are free drinkable water fountains throughout Paris. Just bring an empty bottle and filler up!
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Sacré Cœur

One of my favorite animated films, Anastasia, sings it best:

Welcome, my friends, to Paris!
Here, have a flower, on me.
Forget where you’re from,
You’re in France!
Children, come!
I’ll show you that French
“joie de vivre!”
Paris holds the key you your heart
And all of Paris plays a part.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 26: Orange Covered Shoes in Roussillon, France

18There’s no better way to start this post than with a lovely photo of a handmade glass apple, that looks quite like a pumpkin, taken while discovering this lovely village: Roussillon. After all, it is Halloween.

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Roussillon is a village unlike any other. It’s located in the “Lubéron” and is part of the former régionLanguedoc-Roussillon (which can still be seen and heard about today, even though the régions were further divided and now Roussillon is in actually in Occitanie) in the Vaucluse department in the south of France.

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It’s the second most visited village in the Lubéron – and for good reason!

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Le Cadran Solaire

5 Raisons to get orange in Roussillon:

  • Le sentier des ocres. 6Roussillon offers dazzling red, orange, and yellow hues of natural ocre lined cliffs.8One can’t get orange without taking a hike through the sentier!9The path is easily marked; however, be sure to wear your hiking boots as the ocre can be a bit slippery. 10I made the mistake of wearing sneakers. 9
  • The Roussillon architecture. 2The ocre façades blend well with the colorful shutters that line its windy cobblestone streets. 12
  • The ice-cream that is just steps from Le sentier des ocres.RoussillonThere’s nothing more satisfying than having some gelati to cool off after a hike in le sentier des ocres.
  • The cleanliness. Believe it or not, many villages and cities in France can be quite…dirty. Dirty can include (but is not limited to) animal fecal matter that is literally everywhere. 2With initiatives such as free dog poop clean up bags, Roussillon is far from being sale.
  • The wine. Roussillon offers the largest wine area in France! The Roussillon wine is often seen as: Vin d’Oc (wine from the Région d’Occitanie). Roussillon (and the région) wine is unique because various grapes are blended together directly in the vineyards – this blending gives the wine a powerful bold and fruité flavor. In addition to its unique wine, Roussillon also offers beer and the infamous Pastis 51. Though, when making a beverage choice, trying the wine is a must.

14After having visited Roussillon, I have to agree that Roussillon really is one of the most beau villages in France.

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“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 25: Modern Art Found in a Castle in Lacoste, France

When I first heard that I would be headed to Lacoste as part of a université trip, I assumed that I would also learn about the origins of the famous clothing mark of the same name. Boy, was I wrong! Lacoste is a small village in the “Lubéron” nestled in the Vaucluse department in the south of France.

Lacoste

Despite its Médiévale vibe, Lacoste is open to modernity in the form of art – specifically at the Château du Marquis du Sade.

Arbre de la vie de Ettore Greco

“Arbre de la vie” by Ettore Grec

5 Raisons to step foot in Lacoste:

  • The Château du Marquis du Sade aka Le Château de Lacoste. Château du Marquis de SadeThis Château offers visitors something unique – a rarity – not found in most other castles: Art moderne. Art moderne can be found all throughout the château‘s grounds.
    Château du Marquis de SadeThis display of art moderne is a project by the Savannah School of Art, which is situated just steps from the château. Savannah Art College
  • Plenty of pique-nique space with a view.  LacosteThere’s no better way to enjoy lunch in Lacoste than relaxing on the gravel grounds of the Château du Marquis du Sade and enjoying the view!
  • A step back in time. LacosteWith it’s cobblestone streets and stone steps; it’s wash-house and windmill, Lacoste boasts “cute Médiévale village“. Lacoste
  • Le Forêt des Cèdres. This communal forêt is composed of 94 ha of flora and fauna – not to forget the cèdres trees imported from North Africa. It’s an excellent way to discover that Lacoste is not only the centre-ville! So, lace up your hiking boots or get your bike ready because this national forêt is not to be missed! It’s about a 4 km balade.
  • Le marché de Lacoste. The Lacoste marché takes place every Tuesday from MaiSeptembre.

Lacoste is the lover you never knew existed: With its Médiévale aspects combined with hints of modern artwork and a national forêt, Lacoste will fill any touriste’s dreams in one day. ♦



“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

 

Chapitre 24: An Adventure Afoot in Lourmarin, France

On the official Lourmarin website, the village boasts that it is “one of the best villages in France.” I wonder how many villages in France actually lay claim to this?

Lourmarin

Lourmarin is part of the the “Lubéron région located in the Vaucluse département in the région de Provence – in the south of France.

Lourmarin

Lourmarin is an adorable little village nestled in a hillside at the base of the Lubéron massif.

Lourmarin

In 2012, my université had a day trip to visite three villages in the gion: Lourmarin, LaCoste, and Roussillon. It was an experience NOT to be missed and one to REPEAT!

Lourmarin

I spent most of the morning experiencing the village by foot.

Lourmarin

5 raisons to experience Lourmarin on foot:

  • There’s a Renaissance château. The Lourmarin ChâteauThe village boasts a lovely château with quite an histoire! Château de Lourmarin Fortress The château was constructed in three periods: The fortress was built during the XII and XIII centuries, the Vieux Château was created during the XV century, and the Château Neuf was added during the XVI century. Château de Lourmarin 2To save the château from a proposed demolition during the 1920s, historian and industrialist, Robert Laurent Vibert purchased it. With his death, he left the château (and all of its furnishings/art) in the hands of Aix-en-Provence. Every year, the château hosts artists and writers as well as musicians and various cultural events. Be sure to time it right in order to avoid crowds or be one with the crowd.

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    A fountain at Château de Lourmarin.

  • There’s a cemetery filled with graves and mausoleums from famous artists and writers among other non-famous people. Lourmarin CemeteryFamous author, Albert Camus’ grave is located in the Lourmarin Cemetery. Albert Camus' graveThere’s nothing better than strolling around a beautiful cemetery after a visit to the Lourmarin château.

    Lourmarin Cemetery

    Watering cans at the cemetery.

  • There’s the infamous Lourmarin marché. The village hosts an open market every Friday from 8:30-13:00 in the centre-ville. It’s a great way to experience the city-center!
  • There’s the Lourmarin wine! One great way to experience Lourmarin is drinking un verre de vin de Lourmarin on a terrasse in Lourmarin. Lourmarin wine is made in the Lubéron région and can be purchased at Les Caves du Château (at the base of the Lourmarin Château), La Cave à Lourmarin in the centre-ville, and many other wine caves that dot its winding streets.
  • There’s the Lourmarin architecture. LourmarinOk so Lourmarin architecture ressembles the typical Mediterranean architecture – the différence being in the colors used. For exemple, Lourmarin is famous for its blue shutters while other villages in southern France boast sea green or lavande shutters. There’s no better way to view such gorgeous blues than to embrace the cobblestone streets of the village on foot. Of course, not all the shutters are blue. 1

While one might need some form of transport to get to this beau village, once arrivé, the village can be completely experienced on foot.


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

 

The “Right” Way to Raise a Bilingual Baby

Ever since my bébé was born, I’ve been bombarded by advice from innocents people. Some of it is great advice, while others are just not for my bébé nor my parenting style (do I even have a style or am I making this up as I go…?).

Honnêtement, there’s hardly a “right” or “wrong” way of raising a bébé bilingue – you just stick to speaking your langue maternelle and your partner continues to speak his, right?

Wrong. Woah, wait…what?!

Raising a bébé is not all about you speaking the langue to your little pitchoune -it includes exposure to the culture, too. Food, littérature, mannerisms/gestes, sounds, expressions, toys, songs/chants… are all a part of encouraging your bébé to be bilingue.

But, that’s not all. What else goes into raising a bébé bilingue? Well, let’s not forget EVERYTHING that goes into raising a bébé monolingue!

This post is going to focus on one important fact that often gets pushed to the curb: Raising a bébé bilingue is not That much différent than raising a bébé monolingue. The IMPORTANT thing is to stick to your langue EVERY SINGLE TIME (even in public).

Here’s my (incomplète) Liste on How to Raise a Bilingual Baby:

Food:

  • Give bébé spices and…rice-cakes. When it comes to spices and lack there of, let your bébé try everything! From Wasabi (it’s too bad I did’t take a photo of that one!) to rice cakes (use caution of course (as with everything!) as rice cakes may not be the best choix for daily consumption), your bébé has the right to taste everything, so, give her the chance! After all, a bébé bilingue need not only be bilingue in the language sense.
  • Give bébé dark chocolat. When it comes to dark chocolat and ice-cream*, say, “Oui!” First of all, your bébé isn’t going to eat a whole bar of chocolat, nor an entire ice-cream cone. Secondly, dark chocolat has a range of benefits: It contains omega 3 fatty acids, flavanoids, antioxydants, all of which are parfait for healthy brain development and in prévention of Cardiovascular Disease. Bien-sûr, fruits and vegetables are a better option, but there’s no need to always be négatif about chocolat. Giving your bébé some chocolat fondu or a spoon of ice-cream is parfaitement healthy.

Nap Time:

  • Let bébé relax where she is. If your bébé falls asleep in her highchair, let her stay there for a little bit. Even if she’s got food in her hands… …or if you’re in the middle of feeding her…Bébé‘s comfortable, so, why move her right away? Bien-sûr, remove the food (and make sure there aren’t any hidden in her mouth – we don’t want bébé to choke)! There’s too much stigma around being the “parfaite maman” (“oh you can’t do that or this or that…”) but all bébé really needs is to be loved and to be left to do bébé things. I suggest waiting until bébé is sound asleep and then move her/him to a crib.

Fun:

  • Let bébé ring the bell. Your bébé is exploring the world for the first time, so let her participer! Whether you’re at home with wind chimes or at a learning ferme with a blacksmith bell, encourage your bébé to make noise! After all, some sounds aren’t the same in every langue (e.g. animal sounds).
  • Let bébé enjoy a ride at an amusement park! Exploring doesn’t stop at the mouth and hands: Let your bébé explore the world through her/his eyes and ears, too. There’s usually an attraction at most amusement parcs that even a healthy bébé can safely enjoy!
  • Give bébé a raison to laugh. Despite what some recherche suggests, don’t be afraid to make your bébé laugh by throwing her/him into the air.After all, this recherche was discovered as a résultat of parental abuse of this game. To avoid problems, just remember to be safe, careful, use your best judgment, and to not let go.  Or if you do let go, be sure to catch her/him. Or you can jump with bébbé, thus making it fun for both of you!
  • Expose bébé to other bébés. Whether it’s bébés who are also acquiring your langue or not, letting bébé interact with other bébés will help développer bébé‘s social skills.  Bébés learn not only from mom and dad but also from their peers. This article by Reuters briefly explains the study completed by the U.S. National Institutes of Child Health and Development. The article highlights the fact that “children with high-quality childcare scored slightly higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement years later as teenagers.” The basis of the study was to discover whether or not parents should work during the early years of development; however, it also shows that bébé to bébé interaction helps promote cognitive development. This article by Melinda Wenner adds both a working-mother and journalist’s input to the subject matter: Enrolling bébé in high quality daycare promotes both cognitive and language development but it’s not the only way to help bébé‘s development. That is to say that bébé to bébé interaction does not necessarily mean daycare – it can be playdates, bébégym, or even a baby swimmers classe. So, whether you choose to enroll bébé in childcare or have playdates several times a week, give your bébé that first-hand expérience.
  • Limite screen time, but get bébé in front of it. Screen time can be anything from music (vidéos or just listening to music) to short épisodes of kids shows in the target langue. There’s a lot of négativité on screen time; however, within limits, screen time can be a good thing – especially as support for bilingual bébés. For one, it can expand and reinforce your child’s vocabulary – especially in the target language. For exemple, in many épisodes of Peppa Pig, she plays with a ball, a bike, at the parc, etc…, so, playtime vocabulary such as “catch”, “play”, “ball”, “park”, “slide”, “bike” are learned/reinforced in context. In addition, politeness is also learned and reinforced: “please”, “thank you”, “may I help”…Seeing a child (even if it is a pig) using these words and expressions enables children’s brains to make associations with the word, which then helps reinforce the words.

Hygiène:

  • Let bébé brush her “teeth”. Once your bébé begins teething, it’s time to whip out the bébé toothbrush and the non-toxic toothpaste! After all, it’s never too early to start good teeth-brushing habits.
  • Let bébé splash in the bath! Bébé is just learning about water and all its properties, so, let her make a mess! After all, it’s only water (if you fear the wrath of the Splash, then try this splash guard). Also, as bébé grows into her toddler years, don’t be afraid to sit in the tub with her. It’s always more fun to splash together!

This liste is definitely incomplete and I could go on for days! The point is that in a time when moms are often judged and criticized for everything we do and don’t do with our children, we often forget that the person these judges/critiques should really be thinking about is the bébé! This liste is meant to show parents that there’s not really a HUGE différence in raising a bébé bilingue or a bébé monolingue.  Just go with bébé‘s flow and enjoy it before she grows up! Offrir love, plenty of activités, and target langue exposure – the rest just works itself out.

I must be doing something right since my bébé is always happy! ♦

*Letting your bébé try these foods may come with a risque – if he/she is allergique, don’t take the risque! Follow your pediatrician’s or GP’s orders!


TAPIF: The story of…renewals

In 2014, I found the courage to leave nearly everything (inlcuding my job) and everyone behind to move to France. Having a chéri waiting for me at the aéroport certainly helped calme my fears!

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I also had a job lined up: I was accepted to work as an an assistant de langue in 3 écoles primaires in Marseille. Finding a job in France is tough enough for actuel Français, so it was nice to know that I had a job for at least 7 mois.

First day on the job: Job Training!

I had such an amazing aventure that in Janvier 2015, I filled out the form to renew the program. This was also the “easiest” way to have a somewhat secured job in France (as noted above: jobs are hard to come by). It was also nice to know that Américains (without a carte de séjour) can renew a second time through the CIEP. The process through the CIEP is less complexe than the process through TAPIF in the USA.

In Juin 2015, I was accepted to work a second year; however, I was placed in a lycée (high school) and a collège (Middle School). This expérience was complètement différente from the first year – and this différence had nothing to do with how hard it was to work with a newborn around.

After a year of job searching while working as an assistante de langue, I decided to renew again for the 2016-2017 school year. In Août 2016, I was accepted again as an assistant, though this time I went directly through the Rectorat as an Assistante Locale. With a carte de séjour vie privée et familiale travailleur, I was able to aply for the assistantship through the Rectorat. I worked at a différent (same city) lycée and a collège – both much more organized than the previous year. I also found a second job (thanks to Pôle Emploi) with the agency O2 Kid Aix as an Enlighs speaking nanny; but it was only part time. So, I decided to do both since the assistant-gig would still be my main job source. This was “easy” for me because I’m vehicle equipped. So, I could get from one job to the other in a more timely manner than if I had to go by transportation public.

I also decided that this would be my last year as an assistant and was even more determined than before to find something more full time and closer to me. This means that I worked as an assistante de langue during the 2014-2015 school year, the 2015-2016 school year, and the 2016-2017 school year. Each experience differing from the last (as I was in différent schools all 3 years). Thus showing that even in the same city, school organisation differs completely – leaving me wondering how “égalité” fit into this situation.

If you’re having trouble deciding on primaire ou secondaire, then let the liste below be a guide on what to expect. It’s important to note that not all expériences are equal. 

Some of the main différences between assisting in primaire and in secondaire:

  • Assisting in primaire
    • I make my own leçons (on basic English concepts).
    • I teach the classe entière (25-30 kids) while the teacher is présent (the teacher only intervenes for disciplinary raisons) or while the teacher is out on a quick smoke/coffee break or making copies.
    • I have very little online accès at the school and no copy machine code (except in those schools where a code is not nécessaire).
    • I have none or very little technologie to use in the classroom. If I want to play a song (such as The Days of the Week), then I must bring my own computer/mp3 player and speakers.
    • I work every planned day (except holidays). If a teacher is absent, I stay at the school either in the “teacher’s lounge” or in the computer lab (if the shcool has one) doing nothing during the 30 minutes or hour of that teacher’s classe
  • Assisting in secondaire
    • Sometimes I make my own leçons (more advanced or BAC focused or BTS focused), while most most days I help the teacher. Some days, I knew the teachers’ leçons in advance and could therefore prépare something; other days, I was informed minutes before the start of classe
    • Either I help the teacher (usually, this consists of walking around and intervening while the students work in groupes) or take half the classe to a separate room for the whole time or for half the time (half the time: 2 groupes of 15 students in a 45 minute period). 
    • Normalement, an internet accès code, a copy machine code, and room keys are provided; however, during the 2015-2016 school year, I ended up having to use the computer code from last year’s assistant and was never given a key, which made taking half the classe to a room (often miles away from the original teacher’s room) quite difficile. During the 2016-2017 school year, I learned that the school is required to give assistants a key – so, remember Rule #1: Don’t hesitate to harcèle the secrétaire, the directeur/ice, and the Rectorat for keys and the codes for computer/internet and copy machine accès.
    • I have accès to computers, speakers, Epson and the internet, so I can show Prezi powerpoints and vidéo clips in the target language. 
    •  I can leave the school when the teacher is absent or for any other raison for classe annulation (this means that I can go home if I have no other classes that day or if I live nearby the school and can return for any later classes). This happens frequently especially during the end of the year with the Bac and the Brevet examens. 

Each TAPIF experience is différent but it’s always good to know a little bit about what is expected of you in the classroom and what is expected of the schools. Remember: In secondiare, you get keys to your own classroom! The person in charge of the assistants in each académie at the rectorat will fight for you on this one as you can’t be of good use if you can’t get into your classroom! ♦