Assistant Spotlight with Katie Wade
I'm so happy to have gotten a chance to interview Katie for the second edition of Assistant Spotlight! She is such a fun and happy chick, and from the moment I met her, I loved her joie de vivre!
Having come all the way from Australia, Katie was an assistant during the 2016-17 school year in Toulouse, France.
She has some gems to share in terms of what to expect and how to make the most of your time in France as a teaching assistant. While abroad, she spent her free time working on her passion project, Kombi Cruisin' Travel, and traveling around France and Europe.
Hi Katie! So what made you want to teach English in France?
ello Alex! So I completed my BA in Australia. I majored in Spanish with my BA, and took a 1st year French course. I wanted to really practice my French so thought what not a better opportunity then to try out for this program to do so. I wasn’t sure what the next step was for me after university, job-wise, and I had considered going down the teaching path, so this program was also perfect to give me a taste for teaching to see if I liked it. So yeah, giving teaching a go, and learning French/living in France in general I thought it was too good to be true!
What level did you teach at and what was your experience like?
I taught in a French high school, 11-year olds to 16-year olds. It was a great experience! Some good days, other sh*t days, but it’s all apart of the experience, right? You can’t have rainbows and butterflies every day - that’s teaching for you! But yeah, great experience, I loved it all!
What are three bits of advice you'd like to give to future language assistants who want to teach in France?
- Be flexible. You’ve just landed this awesome job, you get a sweet income and you only work 12 hours a week. If teachers ask you to do a few extra hours, or you rock up to school and the class has been cancelled, so what?! Say yes! Take it as it is and enjoy your time in France!
- Enjoy your time in France – give everything a go, make friends with your fellow colleagues, bond with other assistants, soak up all the French culture – that’s what you’re there for, right?!
- Try to get some travel in around Europe if you can! Being Australian, I can’t just ‘hop’ over to Europe whenever I want lol, so make the most of your time here in Europe! Have some savings behind you - it’ll make everything a little bit easier so you're not living paycheck to paycheck.
As a language assistant, what resources did you find useful?
British council has awesome lesson planning ideas online, so get onto that. Google for all your teaching needs, seriously. We are assistants, and we're not trained at all when it comes to lesson planning and all that (if you teachers do ask you to do lesson plans, that is). Google is your friend.
So tell us a little bit about what you're working on with Kombi Cruisin' Travel!
Yes, Kombi Crusin’ Travel – Budget travellers living life! I love traveling and really made the most of my time in France in that regard – traveling around France and Europe on my weekends and school holidays. With my free time during my stay in France I took the leap, and gave starting my own business a go. It’s a small and slow start, but fingers crossed over time it’ll turn into something great! I’m a freelance travel agent/advisor/tour guide. Check it out and give me a like on Instagram/Facebook (that would be such a big help!(www.kombicruisintravel.com) I specialize in solo, couple, and small group travelers. My itineraries are bespoke and I am even a personal guide who can join you and take care of all the nitty gritty on your trip if you would like! It’s all about big trips on small budgets and soaking up the craziness of it all! Any of your travel needs – just ask me!
Where were your favorite places to travel while working abroad in France?
I went to Hungary for the first time, to Budapest. Absolutely amazing!!! You must go! Also any little village – I’m not a fan of big cities. I checked out quite a bit of Southern France - the Pyrénées for snowboarding (Ax-les-Thermes and Peyragudes), the Basque country (all of it!), French Alps for snowboarding (Morzine and Les Gets), umm just pick somewhere and go! Travel is so good!
hat are some quick bits of budget travel advice for language assistants in France? How can they make their euros last while not missing a chance to explore?
e cheap when it comes to food! Don’t eat out all the time. Make cheap meals like spaghetti and sandwiches. Don’t go and get that coffee every day! The little things add up! When you’re traveling, get the cheap flights – book in advance so you aren’t paying a fortune. Even get a babysitting job on the side (that’s what I did) and that’s a little more income for you!
Thanks so much, Katie! Any parting words to current + future teaching assistants in France?
Enjoy your time in France! It’s all about your attitude! So many people would kill to be in your shoes, so make the most of it! It doesn't matter if you’re in a little village or a big city or just something you didn’t expect. Don’t have expectations to begin with! It’s a rollercoaster of a ride, so let it be a rollercoaster - take the good with the bad and enjoy it!
Cheers cruisers and most of all, ENJOY!