I had no idea where to start looking for a job on my Year Abroad! The suggestion was to look through old job adverts on blackboard and I found several that looked interesting, so I sent out as many emails as possible. There were only a few that replied, but one of those was Language Connexion – a company that provides internships as English-language teaching assistants across France. After completing the interview process and having received a job offer, I started to google around where I would be located. Capbreton, a small sea-side town just to the north of Biarritz; beach, sun, sea. Perfect!

On completing the necessary paperwork, however, there was a small problem – slightly worrying at the time as it had already reached the point of no return in terms of the Year Abroad timeline. After an emergency meeting with LC, I was given the option of several other schools that still needed an intern and chose Oloron Sainte Marie. Located in the same department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, but tucked into the base of the Pyrénées mountains. The visa process was also started around this point, but the company sent a welcome package that had loads of helpful details in terms of the visa application, finding accommodation, what kind of things to wear/bring as an assistant.

I then started the look for accommodation. The best site I found was LeBonCoin and after a couple of searches I found a room in a shared house much along the lines of a first-year student flat – several rooms, with a shared kitchen, living area and bathroom. Decent price with all bills included, just outside the main town, but a reasonable walking distance to both of the schools I was teaching in.

I arrived in Oloron Sainte Marie at the end of August around 2 weeks before my internship started. I immediately went to the house, met the landlady and secured a room for the 7 and-a-bit months I would be spending there. She was lovely, spoke French, English, Spanish and some other languages, and seemed very helpful, open, and welcoming to me. After settling into my room, putting up my photos, introducing myself to the family dog, I started to go out on small day trips exploring Oloron and the surrounding areas.

Then came the start of the internship.

For the first two days a supervisor from LC was with me – she helped with introductions, showed me some games and techniques to use and helped ease me into the teaching world. She came back every couple of months, for one or two days at a time, to check in on me in person, make sure both the schools were supporting me, ensuring I was teaching correctly – almost like an Ofsted inspection, but much nicer and with coffee involved 🤣

The support I received from LC was incredible. Not only did I have the supervisor who came in person every couple of months, but every Wednesday I had an online meeting with another supervisor to go over my weekly teaching plan, see if I needed any help with materials or coming up with activities, and just to provide help on a weekly basis. The teachers at the schools themselves were also extremely helpful. Both teams of teachers were welcoming, helped with my French if and when needed, and supported me in the lessons in terms of planning and then giving them. The students were so sweet. I received innumerable amounts of hugs a day, with the greeting ‘Hello Penny!’ following me around the corridors.

Outside of the internship, I had some amazing weather. I mean, it is geographically in the south of France, so for the majority I had sun and sun and sun. In comparison to the winter which had some veryyy cold and verrry wet days – I think I managed to find a place that could rival England for the level of rain that can fall in one go! To make the most of the nice weather I made some trips up into the mountains, which was incredible. There was also another LC intern who was located in Pau, the biggest town closest to me. I met up with her every now and then, which created a small support system between the two of us; shared problems with difficult classes, or potential lesson ideas.

Then came the end of the internship.

On reaching the beginning of April I had to start wrapping up lessons and saying goodbye. I received so many small drawings from the children and on the last day, both the schools gave me a small present and little goodbye card that they mixed into their main whole-school end-of-term celebration. I also had several parents come up to me and say that the children had absolutely loved the experience learning English.

In total it was an amazing Year Abroad. I landed upon a house that was incredible and made friends with all of the other people that were living there. The two primary schools I taught in really supported me and gave me a good base of teaching knowledge (just in case I decide I want to be a teacher!). I spent 7 and-a-bit months in mainly bright sunshine.

I could not recommend this experience enough and I couldn’t recommend Language Connexion enough for a Year Abroad placement.

If you have any questions, just let me know!

My year in the foothills of the Pyrénées.

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *