TAPIF Year Abroad: What to Pack & What to Leave Behind

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There's no doubt about it: getting ready to move abroad is an exciting time.

It can sometimes be stressful, however, thinking about all the things we should bring with us and all that we should sadly leave behind. Of course, you know to bring the basics - clothes, shoes, etc. - but I wanted to share some things that I would've liked to know before I embarked on my own journey abroad!

Essentials to Bring with You:

  • Photos from home - Your students (and teachers!) will love, love, love being able to learn all about you and your personal roots. Think photos from home of your city, your family, friends, pets, your high school + university. It will also be nice to have a tangible reminder of home for you, as well!

  • Local currency - Malleable, doesn't take much space in your luggage - the perfect thing to bring. Your students will love to be able to see and feel the currency used in your home country. More often than not, they will have never even seen a U.S. or Canadian or Australian dollar! 
  • Important documents - We're talking your visa + passport (obviously), photo copies of your visa + passport, electronic copies of your visa + passport, your work contract (arrêté de nomination) and all accompanying papers, copies of your work contract and all accompanying papers, your FBI-background check (if you're American, despite the fact that I've never even had to use it!), and your birth certificate (might need it) and copies. Honestly, just get a folder or a good big envelope to protect everything and put it in a nice, safe place upon arrival.

Things to Leave Behind:

  • Extra clothes that you don't already wear at home. Honestly, if you impulse-bought that poncho-coat a year ago and only wore it 2.5 times, you're not going to be wearing it in a new time zone either. 
  • New bottles of shampoo and conditioner - Don't think you have to go out on a massive Target run and buy all new toiletries in preparation for your year abroad. Just save space (and weight!) in your luggage and save your stocking up for when you arrive in France. 
  • French travel- and guide-books - This will create so much bulk in your suitcases, just don't bother with them! If you're planning on doing some good ol' European travelin'  (which I hope you are!), then the local tourist offices of various cities have all of the information you could possibly need. Not to mention, we have the Internet, people! :)

What I Thought I Needed that I Actually Didn't:

  • So many local brochures and magazines from my hometown - I used them maybe once for a class and then decided on better and simpler activities. Overall, they were just too bulky and heavy - and I could've probably looked online, anyway.

What I Would've Liked to have Brought but Didn't Have Enough room:

  • School yearbooks from my elementary, middle- and high-school years - If it weren't for the sheer bulk of my high school yearbooks, I would've loved to have brought those and shared them with my students. Instead, I decided to make photocopies of some major pages and create a Powerpoint presentation accompanied by a class project in which we created our own yearbook for the class!


Thanks for reading, friends!

I hope this post helped you in your aspirations + preparations
for teaching and living abroad! 


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Alex Morton