Updated December 21, 2022
This blog has been updated for 2022!
Although many years have passed since I first decided to teach English in France, it's an experience that's still with me to this day. The friends I made then are still a fixture in my life and the things I learned as an English teacher help me every day here at Teach Away.
If you're interested in teaching English in Europe, I promised that you'll find many of my experiences still relevant in your plans!
It didn’t occur to me that I had decided to move to another country – until I found myself waiting for my luggage at the baggage carousel. I became anxious as I suddenly realized that everything of value to me, every piece of home I had deemed worthy of the trip to France was in that suitcase. My heart may have actually skipped a beat when my brown, beaten-up bag finally made its way out and around the belt to me.
Grabbing a coffee at the famous Cafe de Flore, legendary haunt of authors, such as Hemingway.
I had often dreamed of moving to France, but I never imagined that this dream would become reality – until it finally did – when I landed a job as an ESL teacher in Paris.
At first, my TEFL certification was just an opportunity for me to daydream about traveling. I’d come home from my day job and spend my evenings learning about teaching abroad and applying to dream jobs (psst: check out our earlier blog for some great tips and advice on finding a teaching job abroad).
When I actually heard back from a program in Paris, everything changed. The next few months of preparation were a happy blur and before I knew it, I was boarding my flight to Paris on a one-way ticket.
Visiting the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles – can’t you tell I’m just a liiiitle bit excited?!
France didn’t offer the extensive benefits of other countries – I found my small attic apartment through the help of colleagues and friends – but thankfully an affordable baguette is a right, not a privilege, and I began living the good life on my modest teaching salary.
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I worked at two different schools in the 15me arrondissement for about 15 hours a week total, so I had plenty of time to explore the city. I spent afternoons reading existentialist books in the Cimetiere Montparnasse, evenings writing in the cafes of the Left Bank, and nights walking the Seine.
Visiting beautiful Berlin with a fellow ESL teacher from Australia.
On top of the time spent in Paris, working for a school also afforded me plenty of opportunities to travel. I had the good fortune of accompanying students on field trips a handful of times and the better fortune of school holidays for longer trips. I wrote my name on the Berlin Wall, drank Czech beer in Prague and had tea in London alongside my fellow ESL teachers from all around the world.
My time overseas was not all fun and games, though, and I spent a lot of time teaching and preparing lessons. Without my TEFL certification, I’m not sure how I would have managed to lead a class of 30 middle schoolers, but I did it and I loved it. I learned as much from the students I taught as they did from me. It fuelled my passion for education and sent me on a career journey I never expected.
Farewell drinks – vino, of course 😉 – near the Eiffel Tower, with all the friends I made during my year teaching in Paris.
Teaching abroad was an enriching experience in more ways than I could have imagined. I can confidently say that my time overseas surpassed every daydream and expectation I had. Working and living in a foreign place shaped me in ways I had never imagined. It inspired in me a confidence that I carry with me always and everywhere. Put simply, teaching English abroad was the best decision I ever made!