Cawa, comment dit-on ‘adieu’ en anglais?” one of my CE2s at Condorcet asked as she planted a sticky kiss on my cheek at the end of our last class Monday morning.

I would get that question a lot over the next few days.

In English, we say “goodbye” no matter if someone’s leaving for a little while, for a long time, or even forever.

In French, au revoir and adieu both mean “goodbye.” Au revoir is open-ended, containing the promise that you’ll see each other again—vous allez vous revoir. But adieu is final, promising only that you’ll see each other again before God—à Dieu.

Au revoir is goodbye for now. Adieu is goodbye forever.

All week I said adieu to my students with sing-a-longs of “The Wheels on the Bus” and “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” With final games of bingo. With heated rounds of “Simon Says.” With chewy, fruity bonbons. Even with teary eyes to Jack Sparrow’s class.

Jack Sparrow's Class

Jack Sparrow’s Class

My students said adieu with hugs and bisous. With hastily scribbled goodbye notes. With carefully drawn pictures. With demands for my autograph on torn pieces of notebook paper or on the backs of hands. Even one with delicately painted glass pots.

Farewell gifts

Some teachers didn’t say adieu. Some didn’t even realize it was my last day until I asked them to take a picture of me with their classes.

But all the teachers at Rouget de l’Isle said adieu with coffee and cookies during recré. With a card they all signed—some in French, others in English. With a cookbook of recipes du canard et de l’oie à la gersoise. With a beautiful book of watercolors and poignant words about Auch and its surrounding villages and countryside. And the principal even wrote me a letter of reference.

Gifts from Rouget de l'Isle

Le Gers: Chemins de traverse

Today I said adieu to my time as a English teaching assistant, to this challenging, frustrating, chaotic, rewarding, unforgettable moment of my life.

And in the weeks to come I will say lots of au revoirs—to friends who have become a second family, to Auch, and to France—but not too many more adieux.

Some doors are meant to be closed, others to be left ajar.



  1. Jamie · · Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations on successfully completing yet another milestone of your life!

    1. Thanks, mom! I’ve been teary-eyed and nostalgic all week…

  2. Ashley · · Reply

    “Some doors are meant to be closed, others to be left ajar.” I love this line.
    It also makes me hopeful that we’ll see one another again real soon.

    1. I promise we will. Even if it has to be later rather than sooner 🙂

  3. Sophie · · Reply

    OMG Cara I am basically crying! This is so beautiful! SO sad it is coming to an end…. :(:(:(

    1. Thanks, Sophie. I’m sad, too, though I know it’s time.

  4. Linda Fredricks · · Reply

    So touching and beautifully written, Cara. I remember that same discussion of “adieu” when we were reading Le Petit Prince in class. Hopefully there are lots more au revoirs than adieus in your life!!!

    1. Thanks, Mme! I definitely thought of that discussion all week, especially while writing the post. So many little things make me think of Le Petit Prince.

  5. ce post m’a rendu un peu tristounette 😦
    bon courage avec les aurevoirs/adieux (même si j’aime penser que les adieux n’existent pas vraiment).

    1. Merci, Lise. Ce sont toujours durs…

  6. That makes me think of when I will have to say au revoir to France as well … But you’re right, these doors don’t have to close forever! Best of luck getting through the tough goodbyes and in your upcoming adventures!

    1. Thanks! Good luck with your goodbyes as well, when they get here.

  7. […] the end of my last day of teaching in Auch, I logged into my still-functioning Whitmail account to find an email titled “Summer […]

  8. Hi Cara! I randomly found your site while searching TAPIF info. I may be doing the TAPIF this fall and I’m curious… do you know anyone who stayed in France longer after finishing the TAPIF? Ideally I want to do it and apply for university in France during the middle of my TAPIF (since it’s soo much cheaper to apply for French university IN France and not internationally) but I’m struggling to figure out if that’s possible…

    1. Hi Sam! One of my housemates (a Spanish assistant from Colombia) ended up applying for French university while we were TAPIFing, got in, and is pursuing her masters in France as we speak. So it’s definitely possible! As can be expected, there was a lot of red tape to go through—she somehow was able to get her TAPIF visa extended for the summer at our local préfecture, and was later able to convert it to a student visa once she’d been accepted to the university. I do remember her mom having to mail her original documents from Colombia. She also had a lot of help on her application from French friends who were able to give her feedback to make her documents and personal statement comply with the nit-picky French expectations for how those things are done.

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