The main reason I decided on a move to France was so I could learn French. Or should I say try and remember all the French I learned at school and build on it. My aim is to be fluent enough that I can remain in Paris and find work after I’ve finished au pairing. Part of the deal with being an au pair is that you also need to study, so it’s back to school for me.
Obviously I’ll be studying French, just French during my time here. The family I’m au pairing with provided a list of schools they knew of, several of which previous au pairs had attended. I used this as my starting block and headed straight to Google. I’m a list person and decided to write down the key points for each school on individual large post its. This way I could look at them all together and instantly compare with ease, it also satisfies the OCD in me. The two main things I was concerned with were cost (obviously) and lesson times. As I’m running one of the children to and from school most of the week it was important that the lesson times fitted around this. Most of the schools offer specific courses for au pairs meaning the class times are designed to work around an average au pair schedule. All the websites can be viewed in several different languages as well so no need to panic about trying to understand it all in French.
After contacting a few of the schools for more information I cut the list down to four and then compared them all. I settled on Ecole L’Etoile which is based in the beautiful neighbourhood of Saint Germain des Prés. Before making this decision I also went to look at the two I was favouring (the other was Institut de Langue Française) and looked at online reviews previous students had left. I liked Ecole L’Etoile for a number of reasons; the price was right for me and covers all of your learning materials, the course content looked like something I would enjoy (lots of class involvement, opportunity to add on additional activities etc., classes grouped according to level), the class times would fit with my schedule, online reviews were overall positive and I loved the location.
Registering was pretty straight forward, there is a form you have to complete and payment is required upfront. I didn’t want to pay for three trimesters (the name for terms out here) at once in case I found I didn’t like the course and at Ecole L’Etoile there is an option to register for the year and pay trimester by trimester. I decided to do this, it’s a little more expensive but I wanted to be sure this was the right course for me. The only thing I found slightly sketchy is that there is no way to pay through the website. You either have to go in and pay by cash or card (which is fine), by cheque (French banks only), through PayPal (but have to add 4% for fees, no thank you) or direct bank transfer. I decided on the latter as payments within Europe are free with my bank and I was already quite close to the last day for registration so wouldn’t have time to head into Paris and back directly. Let’s just say this gave me a bit of anxiety. It’s quite a lot of money to transfer and it would be 3 or 4 days before I knew if I’d done it correctly. I was envisioning panicked calls to my bank trying to get the money stopped as I’d sent it to the wrong place. Luckily that didn’t happen and I received receipt of payment and my Certificat D’Inscription, the official document confirming my place as a student!
I’m so pleased I got into the school I wanted and I’ll be starting orientation next Tuesday, I’m so excited!! It’s definitely going to be an adjustment going back to education but I’m looking forward to using my brain in a different way. Starting school also means NEW STATIONARY, everyone I used to work with will laugh at this as I was known as the stationary hoarder/protector in the marketing department (maybe the whole office). What can I say, it just makes me happy. I’ve got a desk in my room and wanted to make it feel more ‘me’ so went out into Paris and headed to the large H&M near Galleries Lafayette to stock up on some candles and little trinkets. Their home section is ace and really reasonably priced. I also hit up HEMA (pretty new to England but very similar to TIGER) for some photo frames and a pot to put my pens etc. in. I’m pretty pleased with the result of my purchases and definitely feel like the desk is my space now. Im a bit of a sucker for memories too so have on display a few photos (with more on the way from England) the going away cards I received from one of my sisters and my best friend. The cards seemed too pretty to be put in my memory box and I’m actually going to frame the little ‘Follow Your Dreams’ one at some point.
I’m going to finish up now and go enjoy the sunshine. It’s resurfaced after a couple of dull days and bouts of rain. HAPPY FRIDAY! For anyone interested I’ve listed the other schools that I looked at below:
Ecole l’Etoile – http://www.ecole-letoile.com/index.php/fr/
Institut de Langue Française – https://www.ilf-paris.fr/
France Langue – http://www.france-langue.fr/
ParisLangues – http://www.parislangues.fr/
Campus Langue Paris – https://www.campuslangues.com/