Category Archives: Teaching and education

Fortune Favours The Brave…

Hi everyone, I’m Adriana. This is my first ever blog entry so kindly bear with me as I take you through the ups and downs of my placement journey.

Firstly, I study Sociology and Social Policy and I’m currently doing my placement year at Aston University. I am working with the Learner Enhancement Team which is a part of the Careers and Placement cohort and I’m working as a ‘Project Assistant’.

I personally have to say that my placement journey thus far has been amazing. I’ve met some amazing people who understands me and my crazy self and I have personally developed in so many areas already just based on my daily responsibilities and encounters with the knowledgeable individuals within my team.

But before you all create an amazing picture of my ideal and compatible placement; let’s first take it back all the way to November 2015 when my placement search officially started (and also the start of my 2nd year at university). So there I was, confident in myself discussing with my friends about how I’m going to get a paid  placement located somewhere in Birmingham and my life would be great and I would be rich and I would take everyone out for drinks with my placement salary that I would be receiving. LOL. (Yep, I wrote LOL, because I’m currently laughing at myself for thinking like that). Little did I know that the placement search wasn’t necessarily that easy (oblivious right…I know); I applied for specific placements such as Human Resources and even those related specifically towards Social policy. I struggled a lot because I wasn’t using the appropriate channels to assist me during my hunt for placements. Despite my many attempts and disappointments of getting no response and rejections, I simply gave up and focused on my academic side of my university life. I completely ignored searching for placements due to my previous set-backs and disappointments but the whole thought of going straight into final year without any form of experience would be a more detrimental burden for me personally.

So once 2016 commenced I resumed my placement search and I received quite a few offers for interstewieviews from various businesses across Birmingham and other places in the UK. At that point, I personally felt that I was accomplishing something but that was only the beginning of my placement journey as it was all very competitive.

I went to some of the assessment centres and despite numerous offers I turned them down simply because they were all voluntary and it was not entirely what I was looking for. At this stage, it was going towards the end of the term and I was truly concerned about my placement and in addition to that, I also had to prepare for exams and also essays and projects. By the way, did I mention that I was working part time every week as well doing at least 30 hours over a three day period(Lawwd help me)…I had a lot of things on my plate at the time and it was truly tiring however I ensured that I did everything in moderation. At times I really struggled to do everything all at once however, I was surrounded by some truly great friends who kept encouraging me to apply for placements and to revise for my upcoming exams.

I then got offers to numerous assessment centres and the roles were paid and I thought that it was going to be my lucky break as the roles were related to the career path that I wanted to go towards. I prepared a lot for the assessment centres, I learnt so much about the companies that I thought I knew more about the companies that the owners to be honest.  I made it all the way to final stage of the assessment centres and in the end, I didn’t get any of them because according to the employers the other individual had more experience than me so as a result I was unsuccessful.

Disappointed once again, I sort of gave up any hope of securing an actual placement that would accept me. And to add pressure to the situation, I was due to leave the country in approximately 2 weeks to visit Jamaica for an entire month.

I was so lost in myself because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the placements because it seemed that every single corner that I turned there was some form of barrier or something which knocked me right back to straight to step one. Then I kept applying and I tried having some faith despite the set-backs and then I got invited to an assessment centre at Aston University. I remember that I turned up slightly late to the assessment centre because I had no form of motivation or interest in attending because I thought it would have been another failure due to the other set of disappointments plus it was also on campus and I didn’t even want to set my big toe on campus for another year, much less going there for every single day of every week for the next 12 months *sigh*.  At this stage, I was thinking it’s better to actually try rather than to give up completely.

After the assessment centre I kept applying for other placements hoping to find something else and I could remember clearly the week before I was to fly out to paradise (Jamaica); I was working at Silverstone for the 2016 F1 Grand Prix and I was literally depressed and worried so much because the chances of securing a placement before jetting off was looking rather slim. On one of my very depressed days, I received a phone call from this lovely lady from Aston University; immediately I thought I was in some form of trouble or something but to my surprise I was told that I was accepted onto the team as the new placement student. There and then all I could have done was say thank you for the opportunity over the phone and give the good Lord thanks because despite my many failed attempts at securing a placement I was actually recognised and chosen for a change. And in that very small moment sparked a bit of hope in myself. A bit of hope which I clenched onto till this very day because despite all the odds against me, time was the master in determining how everything would have worked in my favour.

So I went to Jamaica for a whole month and had the most amazing time with my family and friends and I came back to England and started my placement and I personally have to say, my placement journey ever since has been absolutely amazing. Integrated with my team from the get go. They took me to Pizza Express on the first day and that’s how I knew the team was perfect for me because on my very first day we did my most favourite activity together and that’s eating food. (Yes, eating food is one of my many hobbies) But the point is, I’ve been blessed to be a part of such a fantastic team who supports, guide and teaches me so much that I see my ‘unwanted’ placement as a blessing in disguise.
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But that’s enough from me for now. I’m here writing away as if I’m Shonda Rhimes so let me leave you all with my little placement journey for now. But one thing you should take away from all of this is that even in your darkest times you should always have faith and hope because time is the master of everything.

Take Care!

Adriana aka Shelly (That’s my nickname, don’t ask! )

You think teaching is easy? Think again!

People who say teaching is the easy option need to come and do their placement in a school and have their eyes opened. As a placement student in school I’ve assumed the role of a teaching assistant, helping out in lessons with either less able or disruptive students. Unlike most teaching assistants I have specialist subject knowledge and can really challenge some of the students to learn more than ‘just enough to get them a pass’ which is what many students seem to aim for.
I’ve been on placement 3 months now, and have already learnt a great deal about teaching in general, and these are the things I would share with anyone looking at doing teaching after they graduate like I am.
1. Never show weakness – I’m pretty sure the students can smell fear on you. In my first week I was told that I have full teaching rights and to give out detentions if I feel they are needed. But I was not confident enough to do this and discipline properly, and they could tell I was new. As the weeks went on and I grew in confidence and learnt how to speak to the kids they learnt that I meant business! Now, they do listen to me, and if I set a detention, I’m not bluffing but mean it.
2. Children are nosey – No matter how many times I’ve told them I’m a university student, they always ask if I’m a real teacher. They ask how old I am, if I have children and if I’m married. Most of the time, they’re asking these questions because they’re bored or they just don’t want to learn. Don’t fall into the trap of answering these questions, as they’ll always find more to ask. I did like making them guess my age until one year 11 student said I looked 30… being 21, this was NOT what I wanted to hear.
3. They will not do as much work with a cover teacher – FACT, and I remember this from when I was at school. To even the best behaved students, cover teacher = easy lesson. Sometimes, just getting certain students through a lesson with a cover teacher without any other teachers having to remove them is an achievement, even if all they write is the date and the title.
4. Small arguments will be the end of the world for year 7s – In year 7, there is a huge difference in maturity, and it’s very obvious. Some students still think that, like in primary school, arguments will be sorted by the teacher, but most teachers don’t have time to monitor every small friendship issue. They will sort it in the end. They will learn.
5. You will not just be a teacher – As a teacher and especially as a form tutor (Which I am to a year 7 group) you assume the role of many other people. You’re a parent figure to some children with difficult home lives. You give advice and guide them in things that happen outside school. You council students who are struggling with friendships or find school life difficult. You’re a doctor, trying to decipher when a student is ill or ‘ill’ because they don’t want to do a test. And alongside teaching your main job is that you are a role model, teaching students not only the curriculum, but how to be a good person and how to grow into a good adult.

Goodbye Birmingham, Hello, um, Home?

So when I started applying for placements, I didn’t really think about the reality of it all. I knew I wanted to come back home, to save some money and be closer to my friends, boyfriend and family. Throughout my time at Aston, I’ve always struggled with homesickness, so this seemed like the obvious choice. The easy option; how hard could it be?
Well, the answer is quite. And now I’m homesick for Birmingham – here are the top 10 things I miss about my 2nd home and favourite city!

  1. Uber – this sounds like a strange one, but my town doesn’t have Uber, and every time I use a regular taxi I now complain about the fact it isn’t Uber. I miss its convenience and its safety and hoping soon that my town finds its way into the 21st century.
  2. New Street – I miss being connected. From my local station (which only has one line) I can get to either Birmingham or London. From New Street, I can get anywhere. I’ve had so many tearful goodbyes there and seen it rebuilt into the architectural beauty it is now.
  3. Shopping – alongside our beautiful station we also got some new shops to compliment The Bullring. Forgetting a birthday is never an issue when I have pretty much any shop I could ask for just a 10 minute walk away.
  4. Not needing a car – don’t get me wrong, having my own car is a lifesaver and I need it to get to and from my placement every day. But I really don’t like the fact I have to pay for it. I now 100% understand why people moan about paying for parking, the cost of petrol and rush hour. I also really miss walking everywhere!
  5. Independence – Living on my own for 2 years has made me so much more confident, and now that I live with my parents again there are certain things I really miss. As a family we’ve always tried to eat dinner together, but I do really miss cooking for myself and having whatever I like to eat. (But I’m so glad I can enjoy Mum’s roast dinners again!)
  6. Flatmates – I learnt a huge amount from my flatmates. I learnt so much about different cultures, religions and ways of life. I also learnt to negotiate who was taking out the bins out, a really useful life skill.
  7. Learning – As much as I’m learning skills on my placement, I’m not learning academically. I miss lectures that really made me think and want to do my own research.
  8. Concerts – Birmingham has a really good music venues, my home town has, well, none. Being able to go to gigs and concerts and not have to rush to catch the train home was one of the best things about living in a city.
  9. Friends – although I’m at home, and have my friends here, I also really miss all my friends I made at university. Some are also on placement and some have carried on into their final year, but I know I really have made some friends for life at Aston.
  10. Coming home – I miss getting excited to visit home. I miss packing a suitcase, trying to find a seat on the train and being picked up from the station. But now I get to be excited to go and visit Birmingham, my favourite city!

Hasta luego, Madrid!

It’s crazy to think that my time in Madrid has already come to an end. Two months into being home and I still miss my students, friends and colleagues very much…and of course, the weather! Honestly, I didn’t expect these special young children to make such an impact on my life – but they did and I hope they continue to grow as people and learn new things 🙂

Leaving my placement at SEK El Castillo was very emotional. I had already predicted that there would be a water work display but it really made me think about the amazing experience I had out there and what fantastic people I had met. I would like to thank all my teachers at SEK for making me feel so welcome and being so so kind to me over the past year. Although it was a sad departure, I hope I can visit again sometime in the future as requested by my students! ^^’ honestly, I don’t think I could have worked with better children and teachers. They never failed to make me smile…

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I feel very happy being able to share my placement story with others because I had been lucky enough to work with such a great school. Ultimately, I must thank Aston University for this opportunity in my life that I’ll never forget. It’s amazing how well prepared Aston are and how much they support you inside and outside of education. Thank you for giving me this time to grow as a person!

My next step is to enjoy the rest of my summer holiday and mentally prepare myself to tackle final year in September – its going to be hard but so worth it in the end. Hard work really does pay off and I hope to continue this positivity through the last year of higher education!

To anyone who has been reading my blogposts, thank you for your interest and I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey to Madrid with me. I really appreciate everyone’s support and love I’ve received this year and I’d like to wish all perspective placement students good luck for your placement year, it’s going to be one you’ll never forget. Make the most of it and enjoy life to its fullest whilst you can 🙂

It’s time to officially sign off. Thank you all again for your time!

– Tiffany

 

 

What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂

Tiffany

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It’s not ALL about working or studying!

Yes, your primary purpose of your YA is to work or study but it’s not all about just studying or working. Your 9-5, 5 days a week might be the norm but the weekends, public holidays are for you to go out and venture! If travelling and trying new things are right up your street, then this is your time to shine. Don’t be one of those boring students who refuse to move off their bottoms ^^’

Here in Spain, I’ve had quite a few long weekends (public holidays) which has allowed me to travel to different cities in Spain – perfect! I have lived here for 7 months now and I feel very content with the things I have done, places I’ve visited, up until now.

Valencia 
Not long after I first moved to Spain, my roommate and I took a very spontaneous trip to Valencia. Literally, one day after work we decided to book our journey there and our accommodation…if I remember correctly, it took us just 30 minutes to get everything sorted. We went back in September so the weather was still pretty warm/hot! The food and beach were beautiful!

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Segovia 

Segovia was a small historical town that didn’t offer a lot but the buildings and architecture there was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to have lunch just by the 2,000 year old Roman Aqueduct and enjoy the good weather.

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Barcelona

My roommate’s family were visiting Barcelona so we decided to pop over too! It took us two and a half hours to get there by train and our train tickets cost…a lot! But it was so worth it. I was able to see so many things and try new food. This is the life you want to live! Oh and I even got to visit Camp Nou football stadium 🙂

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Cuenca 

Again, Cuenca was a very small city that really cool aspects to it. The city is known for its ‘hanging houses’ …though we only saw the one ^^’ the red bridge in the photos below was extremely high! >__< and I have a huge fear of bridges… so yes, I soldiered on with my eyes closed, gripping onto my roommate.

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Toledo 

Toledo was our most recent day trip out and it was a really nice day. The sun was out to play and it made our day that much better. All these small cities are very beautiful ~ though there isn’t much to do there at all, it’s just nice to do some walking in the peace and quiet where you can see amazing sculptured buildings left, right and center.

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So, this is what I have been up to so far during my placement – visiting other nearby cities and trying to try new things all the time. Not only have I visited other cities, but I’ve discovered some really cool places in central Madrid too which I’ll update you guys on soon, for those of you who are looking for a placement in Madrid 🙂

Spain has so much to offer so I would definitely recommend doing  your year abroad here! ~

Tiffany

 

A Day in a life of a TA (teaching assistant)

The word “placement” may seem daunting to some yet exciting to others. What’s great is that Undergraduate students are offered two opportunities in which you have to fight for (just like you would when you apply for a job) – a study and/or a work placement. The beauty of having choices and options is that you get to find something that is suitable to you, something that you enjoy doing and perhaps wish to pursue as your future job. Some students prefer to work, some prefer to study, some want to do both.

And me? I chose to work.
I’ve been working as a Grade 1 Primary (5-6 y/o) TA (teaching assistant) for over three months now here in Madrid and I’d like to give a closer insight on A Day In A Life of a Placement Student!
08:30am09:10am
Wake up call and get ready for work.
09:1511:am ; first period
I arrive at work for 09:15am and begin working.
After greeting other teachers and my students, I assign a ‘captain of the books’. The students read English books every morning, either individually or in pairs and I sit with as many of them as I can to listen to them read and to offer support. From the first day I started, I’ve been able to see each student’s capability in reading, writing, speaking in English. To this day, three months on, I can see much improvement by majority of my students. Hearing my students speak, read and write more and more English to me everyday is beyond rewarding.
11:00am11:30am ; break time
Break time is when I get to grab a snack and drink from the staffroom and hangout with the other GAP students here. Sometimes I work my break and carry on with any videos or worksheets I have to work on.
Every Wednesday, I have duty. I am on playground duty during break time and second break too. I watch over the students along with another teacher and deal with any problems or conflicts that occur on the playground – which is usually the case of one student not wanting to play with the other.
11:30am12:30pm ; second period
 
 
12:30pm-14:00pm ; lunch break 
Usually, at 12:30pm, I take the class over to the dining hall and make sure they all sit down and eat their lunch.
From 12:30-13:00pm, I pour the students’ drinks, I make sure they are eating their lunch (some kids are very picky) and I help them with their change over. Honestly, it is a little tiring running up and down the tables making sure everyone is OK and hearing my name get called constantly gives me a headache (the students have to get permission to change their dish).
13:00pm-14:00pm is my lunch. I eat at 13:00pm and I usually go back to my room after I’ve eaten to relax. Living just 5 minutes away from your workplace is very convenient.
Every Thursday, I teach English to two primary students during my lunch break – one aged 8 and one aged 11.
14:00pm16:00pm ; third period
In this period, the students sometimes have other subjects such as music, art, swimming.
16:00pm-16:30pm ; final break 
The students get a further half an hour break at 4pm because their school day begins at 09:15am and ends at 5:15pm. This is quite an unusual time period for a normal school day but I guess it’s because SEK is a private school! The students get a snack which is normally a sandwich, chocolate or fruit.
16:30pm17:00pm ; last period 
The last half hour is normally tidy up time where the class ends and there’s a small re-cap on what has been learnt throughout the day. The students take quite a while to tidy up after themselves so that pretty much takes up the entire half hour!
17:00pm-17:30pm ; bus route 
On Mondays, I finish work at 5:30pm because I take the kids to ruta (bus route) after school ends and my job is to keep an eye out on them whilst they get picked up by their specific teachers. The system is strange but it works.
20:00pm ; dinner 
I have dinner with my colleagues (other GAP students) at the school dining hall everyday. All meals are provided – breakfast, lunch, dinner. This gets a little repetitive so sometimes I go out to the city or a nearby town to eat.
Most days I finish at 16:00/16:30pm but on Mondays I finish at 17:30pm. To keep myself occupied, I have taken up tennis lessons at the University next door to work. I go to tennis class every Tuesday and Thursday at 18:30pm-19:30pm. On the weekends, I travel out to Madrid or try and make a day trip to another city.
Any type of placement is not a restriction – especially if you are doing it abroad. It’s really important to do as much as you can whilst you’re out there; meet new people and travel to new places.
– Tiffany
Doing a placement abroad or any placement is a huge challenge. You must be brave and have a lot of courage to complete it. It’s a new and different experience that takes time getting used to. Yes, it is tons of fun and offers you so much…but there are also minor struggles such as being homesick. Living in another country and getting used to its culture plays a big part. You must be open to trying new things.

Exciting Things I’ve Done So Far

Doing a placement abroad means that there is so much more to the experience than just a job. Living in a country as wildly different as Vietnam has led me into some pretty fun ‘extra-curricular’ activities on a regular basis. Here is a selection of my highlights from the first half of my placement.

1. Parasailing 

Parasailing would have been a great activity to try in the UK, but throw in a little Vietnamese-style health and safety (and lack thereof) and boy is that an experience!

But I didn’t die, and it was amazing to be able to see the entire city to one side, and endless ocean to the other.

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2. Trips Away

I’m so lucky to have a placement in such a wonderful and diverse country such as Vietnam, and so any opportunity to see more of it and I’m on board.

I have the beautiful Ancient town of Hoi An on my doorstep, and have been able to have weekends away in the old capital, Hue and the bustling, hectic Ho Chi Minh City.

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On top of this I was able to spend my Christmas expanding my horizons and exploring more of Asia, visiting Bali, Kuala Lumpar and Singapore.

Each of these trips have given me new and diverse perspectives on life, shown me spectacular views and allowed me to taste wonderful foods.

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Travelling really has been one of the best parts of this placement.

3. Ending up in the Ocean After Nights Out

We work hard but we certainly play hard too. For such a small city, Danang has a surprisingly consistent night-life. Each week we meet new people travelling through, and make some really great friends in the process.

And what better way to solidify a friendship? Ending up in the ocean at 2am. Yet another perk of having the beach so close.

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4. Attending my First Vietnamese Wedding

Weddings are a fantastic way of seeing into a country’s culture, and as luck would have it, one of the best friends I have made on this placement got married in October, and I was honoured to be part of it.

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It was slightly crazy, I understood very little of what was going on, but it was a brilliant night, full of joy and love, and I was thrilled to be there.

5. Meeting Ambassadors

For a teaching job I’ve done a surprising amount of networking.  I’ve met a lot of important people I never thought I would get a chance to meet, including both the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK, and the American Ambassador to Vietnam. I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some great minds from around the world and it really has been a pleasure.

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I’ve also taken shots with the keynote speakers from international conferences, but that’s a story for another day…

6. A Few Body Mods

So it looks like I’ll be coming home with at least one new tattoo and one new piece of facial jewellery – but the year’s only halfway through…

Getting a new tattoo and my nose pierced in Vietnam weren’t actually as scary and back-alley as they sound, I did go to well established places.

It was a lot of fun, and tends to worry people when I tell them.

 

These are just a few of the things I’ve been up to both in and out of work. Whittling it down to just these few was hard, as these six months have been so full and diverse. Who knows what your year will hold!

Nailing the French Culture

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Stand by some Dior branding and they’ll always think you’re French… or even Parisienne!

Sorry, I’m back again to give some more of the French low downs. So, I thought seeing as it is such a crucial part of moving to any country you might want to know a little bit about the real Parisien culture.

So let’s break it down.

1) Be sure to get some coffee down you at least 15 times per day – I know the British Tea culture is pretty big, but by god it is nothing compared to the French coffee culture. It is not frowned upon to leave your desk for twenty minutes at a time to take a coffee with some chums or colleges, so capitalise on the petite pauses to give your eyes a screen break – even if you’re only a water-drinking freak like myself. Plus its great for practising some French.

2) People running down the métro stations to catch a métro that they don’t even know exists, and sprinting into half-closing doors and getting stuck is completely normal and they won’t even be embarrassed. Sure its fun to try get the train before the buzzer goes, but with my stiff upper English lip I’m not prepared to get stuck in-between the doors when the next one is only ever 3 minutes away.

3) The next culture tip is one that I have come to love. Saying ‘Bonjour’ and shaking/kissing the cheeks of everyone in your office is normal (I mean every morning to each person. I have a team of 30 to kiss or shake hands with). It sounds like a massive effort, but it is a brilliant way to get to know everybody, get some exercise and pass a few minutes before you’ve even set up your work space. Trust me, they also talk about who does and doesn’t do it and asses how rude it is over lunch so it’s worth the effort.

4) Swearing in French chat or to yourself is perfectly acceptable. This doesn’t mean you should follow suit though, I just don’t want you to be surprised. The amount of ‘M’ and ‘P’ words I have heard thrown around the office in casual conversation or when someone is muttering to themselves is quite profound. I mean in the UK if I sat at my desk at said the ‘S’ and ‘F’ word every five minutes people would both look and consider if I had turrets.

5) Casual dress – luckily you can take this as you please, it can be literally t-shirt and jeans right up to smart casual for women. There is truly no pressure to dress up. It is, it seems, more common for men to wear suits in the big offices – sorry boys, no jeans for you unless it is dress-down Friday and even then a shirt, jeans and jacket works best.

6) Smoking is bigger than in the UK, but nowhere near what is was just a few years ago, so you shouldn’t feel any pressure to smoke. If you’re worried you’re missing out on socialising and can bear the smoke fumes, go outside with colleges on their smoking breaks and absorb the chat as well as some lovely odours whilst your at it. Just as an example, in my team of 30, 3/4 people smoke.

7) Literally no ‘cares’ are given in most situations. This is doesn’t count for everyone, but it is more common to look and walk on here, so don’t be shocked if you fell over and no one ran to your rescue. This is however different when it comes to striking – there has been at least one a month since I came in August and they can be pretty rowdy.

8) The French love you to use their language rather than English, but don’t be surprised even so if they laugh, correct or tell you they have no idea what your on about – they do, but you either haven’t used the right colloquialism or specific word that only a French person would know. We are far more relaxed with foreigners making mistakes with their English whilst they learn. You just have to let it go in and try and remember for next time, whilst not correcting their English too much – they don’t like that either!

9) Say bonjour to people you don’t know in the toilets – its the done thing and you don’t want to stand out. You can also add a Bonne journée when you leave too, even it is a complete stranger you have never seen before. I mean imagine if in the UK you said Hello to stranger in the toilets and told them to have a nice day, they will either appreciate your kind words, know that you’re French, or think you’re a complete nutter.

10) Figure out several routes to get to work and back! The transport won’t always tell you why a service is delayed or the specific details of where it stops etc, it’s not to say you have no idea, but it’s best to be prepared as we know how much they love a good old strike over here in la belle France.

That should help you get by for now I think.

Have fun with your adventures.

A la prochaine,

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Term 1 is Over!

My first term in Cyprus is coming to an end and the town is donning its Christmas attire! This term has been amazing and I can’t believe all the things I’ve learned and amazing people I’ve met! The school really is a family and I’m ending the school year feeling really privileged that I’ve been made a part of it!

I’d forgotten how much fun being in a school at Christmas could be. I’ve never had a job before, where I go into work with a smile on my face every day knowing that something will make me happy and glad I’m there. This week, the festivities have been never ending! We’ve not just been celebrating Christmas but achievements the students have been working towards all term. We’ve named the star of the term, elected the student council representatives and the winners of the golden diners contest have had their prize! I should explain what golden diners consists of… each day one table wins ‘golden diners’ and the next day they get a tablecloth, centerpiece and just general pride at being the quietest and most civilized table. They then get to put a golden circle on the chart. At the end of the term the class with the most golden circles gets the ultimate golden diners! They even get served by the teachers and pick their food from a menu!

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