Last year before I began my teaching career, I was very unhappy in an administrative retail job that wasn't a fit for me. I knew I wanted to teach; and when I was offered a position teaching middle school in a neighboring town, I was thrilled.
Haley with her host family : Caroline (left) and Suzy (right) in Marseille, France
I have always been a dreamer, and had an itch for travel. The best experience of my college career by far was studying abroad in the UK for a semester; and when I came home, I knew similar adventures were in my midst.
As I sat at my desk during my final weeks before my teaching position began, I dreamed of using my new found summers to travel to faraway places: to be a language camp counselor in another country, to teach English abroad in a school setting, or to simply save up some of my teaching salary, pick a place I'm intrigued with (there are many!), and go explore a new culture.
Haley took a photo of the courtyard of the monastery in which Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted for a year in St-Remy-de-Provence, France
When I found GeoVisions after extensive web research, I was pleased to discover the numerous options I had: there is such a wide variety of countries involved with the program; and you have opportunities ranging from working at a summer camp to being a private language tutor and residing in the home of a host family (with room and board provided).
After much consideration, this is the teach English abroad option I chose; and how I got to live with the Sabatier family in the gorgeous Provençal region of France for a whole month.
Haley's experiences in Paris convinced her she wanted to teach English abroad in France through GeoVisions
When I studied abroad, I visited Paris for a long weekend, and knew I would be returning to France. I have always been fascinated with the French language, fashion, and movies-- the French culture overall. When I signed up for the Conversation Corps program and got placed with the Sabatier family in the Provençal region (near Salon-de-Provence), I was beyond excited to be able to discover a more "French" region of France.
That said, there is absolutely no better time to visit the south-of-France than in the summertime; with the lavender fields and vineyards in full-bloom, fresh fruits and vegetables plentiful, and perhaps best of all, access to Mediterranean beaches (Marseille is just about an hour away by bus) is easily affordable and available.
Haley visited a 12th-Century Senanque Abbey in Gordes, France. Monks continue to inhabit the Abbey, and harvest vegetables, fruits, lavender, and make wine!
One of the best parts about the Conversation Corps program is all the free time you have to travel and explore the region. After teaching my 13-year-old student the majority of the weekdays, I had my weekends (and then some) to freely travel, both solo and with my host family. With my host family, I have been to Pourquerroles, an island in the Cote-d'Azur that was named the most beautiful beach in Europe, Avignon for an annual globally-recognized art and theatre festival (the Festival d'Avignon), on a kayak trip down a tributary of the Rhone, and to a music festival in nearby Salon.
On my own, I have been able to plan numerous excursions across the Provençal region; and I was even able to meet up with another GeoVisions tutor (and now friend!) for a four-day trip to Paris and Switzerland.
Haley also visited a Roman amphitheater (circa 90 AD) in Arles, France during her teach English abroad adventure
Overall, the Conversation Corps experience has truly been an adventure, and I cannot wait to share my stories with my students back home. I have made a lifelong friendship with my host family (they even asked me if I'd like to visit again next summer!), and have learned so much about the French culture and way of life.
Traveling solo to a different country and living with a host family expands your awareness of a culture and drags you out of your comfort zone in a way you never thought possible; and is something I wish for my students to be able to experience one day.
I have told students numerous times that travel has been my greatest teacher.
To read more about Haley's adventure in France, and see more photos of places she's visited, click here.