Placement year part 1: Air France, Toulouse!

gemmadilkes#MyPlacementStory, Gemma Dilkes, International Placements, On Placement, Second Year

Hi everyone! I’m Gemma and I study BSc French and Spanish at Aston, currently on placement at Air France in Toulouse for 4 months working as an English Language Assistant. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my experiences so far and I hope many of you (especially fellow language students) will find it interesting and helpful and will get an insight into what working life is like abroad!

Preparing for a placement is a daunting task, but even more so when it has to be in another country (or in my case, 2!). I remember not having a clue how to start my placement search and having so many unanswered questions. Where did I want to go? What did I want to do? I think the best way to start is to actually think ‘where DON’T I want to go?’ and ‘what DON’T I want to do’. So, that was the approach I took and it made things a lot easier as my placement search progressed. I feel I was very lucky as I managed to secure my placement at the International Placements event held in November, this is very early to get a placement especially abroad so don’t worry if this doesn’t happen for you, but it is still possible!

So after months of planning, preparation (and arguments with my French bank), I finally made it to Toulouse in August. Having already sorted out my accommodation before my placement was due to start, it felt nice knowing that I had somewhere to call home as soon as I arrived. I found my flat on Airbnb, which I highly recommend for finding accommodation abroad, you’re less likely to fall into a scam as you can read reviews about the host and the property and the payments are secure. The best part is that the properties come equipped with everything you need so there’s no need to go out buying things you will inevitably have to leave behind at the end of your stay.

Regarding my job, I am working as an English Language Assistant. My sole responsibility is to prepare conversation classes for Air France employees to help them improve their English. We have covered a wide range of topics such as food, television, Brexit, the royal family and it is interesting to hear peoples’ views and experiences, but it’s also nice to know that they often leave my class with some knowledge about British culture that they didn’t have before.

When I finish work and on the weekends, I make sure that I explore Toulouse as much as possible and unashamedly be a tourist for 4 months of my life. I would highly recommend Toulouse as a city to spend part of a placement year as there is lots to see and do, a very pleasant prolonged summer and it isn’t too expensive to live in. Capitole Square is one of my favourite places in Toulouse, it features the beautiful Capitole de Toulouse and around it are some lovely cafes where you can sit and have a coffee and a chocolatine (a pain au chocolat, but the Toulousains are adamant that it is really called a chocolatine)