When university told me that ELAing in France would fall a week shy under the requirements of an official ‘year abroad’, I had many different ideas as to what I would do to fill the time: go on a big tour of France, visit family in Montreal or maybe take a language class in Montpellier (my writing skills did and still do suffer). Yet here I am sitting in my Parisian apartment 2 months into a 4 month internship for an app ( some new age shit, mothertrucker!) Life 9 months ago could not have been more different than it is today.
For this post imma give y’all a comparison between working as an English Language Assistant in the south of France and interning in central Paris. It goes without saying that because it’s based on my own personal experiences in two very different environments I won’t be speaking for tout le monde. But it will *maybe* give you a little insight to the different types of jobs.
Hours and Holiday
ELA – I worked 12 hours a week. 12. Hours. For every 6 weeks of work I received 2 weeks holiday. Paid. Those are the facts. My boss was lovely and had it so I had long weekends (Fridays off and no Monday mornings) and Wednesdays off too. During ELA I had time to go to Madrid, Barcelona, Fes, Casablanca, Marrakech, DESERT, Nice, Monaco, Villefranche, Bordeaux, Carcassonne. I also went on frequent trips to Toulouse, the nearest city. Oh and home quite a few times too!
just another ELA funded holiday in Morocco
Intern : I currently work 10 – 6, Monday to Friday. After ELA, this took some getting used to. As a stagiaire I’m not entitled to any holiday and was mentally prepared for this until my boss randomly asked me when I was taking my holiday – say wha?! So a possible week in August is on the cards. It’s basically down to the employer, but don’t get your hopes up! At the same time, you do have to remind yourself that YOU LIVE IN PARIS and there are endless things to see and do (can be difficult if you’re creveed by the end of the day). However, just the last week work decided to relocate the office to Nantes for a bit of team building and exploring. Never a bad thing! I can’t imagine that ever happening in the UK.
the office last week in Nantes
Verdict: You can’t help but love ELA hours and holidays. For a year abroad, all you will want is time to travel and explore and there is no way better to do that than by doing ELA. Since I arrived in a Paris, I have barely travelled in comparison and when I do it’s been short and exhausting.
ELA: After taxes, the pay is around 780 euros per month. This is more (about 1000) if you’re allocated in places like Paris or Outre Mer! It is a very comfortable, but by no means luxurious, living especially after living ‘student styley’ the past couple of months! Let’s just say I didn’t need to touch any other money sources during my ELA and I did some travelling.
Intern: I get paid minimum (average) wage for a stagiaire, which is 436.05 euros a month. Considering I work three times more the hours than an ELA and live in a city three times the cost of living than the south of france – it again took some getting used to. With the ERASMUS grant you will just about cover your rent, so make sure you have plenty of savings before you come to Paris as an intern!
ELA: As an ELA I got a couple of my own classrooms (one being where Jean Jaures once taught Philosophy in). I had an incredible view over the beautiful town where I worked and my school was located in the centre. I was on my feet quite a lot moving around classrooms, running to photocopy some last minute lesson plans and the staff room was a space to relax in. Lunches consisted of eating a very cheap but huge meal with the fellow staff.
View from my class
Intern : I work in a fantastic location just 5 minutes from the Bastille and 10 mins from my place. It’s in a building made for entrepreneurs so the vibe is young and they have things like lunches and ping pong tournaments for all the little businesses to come together. I have my own desk in a typical office and yeah it’s nice. For lunch I eat with my colleagues and spend a lot of money in the supermarket just underneath the offices. I could tell you where chocolate flavoured quinoa is off the top of my head. Do it.
Verdict: Very different environments. ELA was a lot more active and in office jobs it’s generally not as dynamic! Luckily I do find the work motivating but I could imagine how boring office life would be if you didn’t enjoy what you were doing. I loved walking around classrooms and interacting with my students.
Learning outcomes – It’s an awful phrase init but it was either that or ‘life lessons’
ELA : There is nothing more precious than seeing a student ‘click’ when they finally understand something. The looks on their faces will be one I’ll never forget. I learnt that I am capable of being very patient, how to engage teenagers and well, I gained a great insight into the world of teaching. I don’t want to be a teacher (at least not as a first career)but it was a very rewarding experience that I found very difficult to leave.
my lovely terminales
Intern: For someone that had no previous experience in marketing, I have learnt so much these past couple of months. Such as how to apply myself using my previous attributes into a completely new line of work and experience big city office life (IN FRANCE!). I really enjoy marketing and one day will look to see how I can apply my experience into the world of Publishing.
Verdict: There was a great deal to be learnt from the two jobs. I felt that ELA was a perfect progression to my job as I work for an English learning app for kids. Both experiences will undoubtedly look great on my CV, but interning in Paris will give me that edge! Especially as I work in a start-up I feel lucky because there are not alot of interns who get the same amount of responsability as I do. I actually have an impact on the company and that is a scary but wonderful thing.
ELA: As I was getting paid to speak English, I did end up speaking the native tongue alot. But sometimes, as the kids knew I spoke French I did improve dramatically over the course of 7 months. That combined with my general lifestyle (living with French people and speaking French in the staff room with colleagues)
Intern: Again, my job does involve a lot of writing in English but in terms of office life (meetings, lunches etc) it is all in French. I have been taking it all in, the differences between Parisian french and that I heard in the South. C’est ‘ouf’
Verdict: Both were equally as useful in my opinion, but I think there is slightly more opportunity to speak french as an intern. Slightly. I think what matters most is what you do outside of your working life, who you choose to spend you time with or who you live with.
VERDICT TO END ALL ZE VERDICTS: So there you have it. I loved both jobs in completely different ways, overall I think you get a better quality of life when you’re out of Paris. Saying that, but there is really no contest when it comes to having things to do in ze gay paris. If you are doing ELA, interning, or both why not share your experiences.Which did/do you prefer?