Working abroad – WIYA and External Placements – France

Anna (French), worked in Clermont-Ferrand

Anna France

Being on the other side of the classroom was such an experience! During my year abroad I worked in two professional colleges in Clermont-Ferrand and taught students aged between 15 and 22. Whilst it was sometimes challenging to motivate my students in their early morning lessons, it was such a rewarding role when I saw my students improve. Plus we really did have a lot of fun during our English lessons!

My colleagues were so friendly and helpful and made my transition to France very smooth. By the end of the year, I was singing in the local University choir and volunteering with the girl scouts. This made me feel right at home and helped me to meet a huge variety of people during my time in France. To anyone considering a year abroad, I cannot recommend it enough! It’s such a fantastic opportunity and one which you will never forget.

Alison (Management and French), worked in France

Alison France

I lived and worked for a year in one of the most beautiful areas of France – the Loire Valley. It doesn’t get much better than that! Initial trepidation soon disappeared as I began teaching and I was soon recognised as la nouvelle assistance anglaise. Immediate rapport was established when, after my first lesson, several teenage girls stayed behind to tell me they liked my shoes! French chic – I was off to a good start. Lesson planning focused on topics which interested the pupils as well as the inevitable grammar lessons. I really became part of the school and was even invited on their school trip to London as an accompanying member of staff. I developed friendships with other assistants which I know will be lifelong. We travelled and discovered most of France together, from St Malo to Monaco and all that lay between. My year taught me so much, affording me the opportunity to grow and develop as a person. Une année inoubiable.

Mark (Chemistry), worked in Lyon

Photo student experience

My year long work placement at L’Institut Français du Petrole in Lyon, France, was absolutely fantastic. Integrated into the degree, the year abroad allows you to gain invaluable work experience and get paid at the same time, which makes for a very enjoyable experience. I spent my year abroad working as a research scientist synthesising, analysing and presenting new products; a real insight into what it would be like to work in R & D, which helped me decide on career options that I want to take after I graduate.

Working side by side with French people every day is what makes this programme so great – you get exposure to the language and culture that I don’t think you get with other year abroad schemes; with no native English speakers at my plant, if you don’t speak French fluently you won’t understand any of the humour, or gossip that bounces about every minute of every day. My colleagues at work quickly became good friends and so evenings and weekends were never dull; excursions to Parc Asterix, Paris, Switzerland and camping in the Ardèche to name but a few.

Making the most of every opportunity that comes your way is key to enjoying this year abroad – throwing yourself ‘in at the deep end’ is fantastic for character and confidence building.

If anyone is considering a year abroad work placement, I would tell them to go for it – it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and if given the opportunity to do it all again I wouldn’t hesitate for a second – send me back now!

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