As Oct. 1 (TAPIF’s start date) grows e’er near the anxieties of its teaching assistants grow in proportion—especially for those who don’t already have a semester of putting up with French bureaucracy under the belt.
I know this is true for two reasons:
- Everyone is FREAKING OUT about seemingly everything as evidenced by the anxious posts on the wall of our Toulouse Assistants Facebook group (which notifies me every time anyone posts anything—relevant or not. Most recently up for discussion: the horrible automaton-like nature of the people who work in the French consulate in Chicago).
- I myself am anxious (about teaching, about being away from home and out of the United States for seven months, etc.) and have been having increasingly frequent stress dreams (in one of them, I was given my teaching schedule and had to teach MWF while the other assistants got to teach MTTh and thus got to have three-day weekends).
Luckily, one of the things I’ve been most worried about has been resolved—I have secured housing!
Let it be known that TAPIF, on the large, institutional scale, does not provide you with housing, but instead throws you to the wolves of French real estate. For this reason, I’d been planning to get to Auch a week or so early to apartment hunt and/or live as an SDF under Auch’s Pont de la Treille. Thankfully, this fate has been avoided.
I will be living in a furnished, six-person house centrally located in downtown Auch with other TAPIF assistants, students and stagaires (a.k.a. young people doing internships). This means I will (theoretically) have people to hang out with and thus won’t be a recluse for my stint in France.
The best part is that Wi-Fi and laundry are both included in the rent—which is very affordable, especially when taking into consideration my meager TAPIF salary. (If you couldn’t tell from the bold face, the internet and laundry are two of my most prized creature comforts.)
How did Cara land this gig? you may be asking yourself.
Well, a few weeks ago, I emailed the two contact people whose names and information I’d received along with my arrêté de nomination, introducing myself and asking several questions—mostly about housing. I got a response from one of them last week with the name and email address of my future landlord. I sent him an email and since then we’ve been corresponding regularly (mostly, I’ve been nagging him with questions and picture requests while he’s been very accommodating and patient). In short, this process was much easier than it should have been and I’m thankful that it was.
Relatedly, I’ve become really proficient at writing formal(ish) emails in French–meaning I’ve been understood, and, for the most part, the people with whom I’m communicating probably don’t think I’m too much of an idiot.
Thankfully, this wonderful website exists with all the information you’ll ever need about how to formulate French (business) letters. And, FUN FACT: It is also home to the subjunctivator (a handy tool that allows you to select a common French phrase and then tells you whether or not you need to follow it with the subjunctive tense).