In November 2011, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) head António Guterres declared that the twenty-first century was proving to be ‘a century of people on the move’. Already, in the five years since, this has proved more true than most could have imagined. According to United Nations figures, the number of people displaced worldwide reached an all-time high of roughly 65.3 million in 2015, representing one in every 113 people.
If I remember rightly, it was around this time last year that I received confirmation that I had been accepted to be a language assistant. Admittedly, one of the biggest pulls of the programme is the pay: 800€ a month for twelve or so hours a week. If you want to be a teacher in future, it’s invaluable experience, but you don’t even need any teaching qualifications or experience: you’re an English language assistant, so your fluency will suffice. Personally, I had worked before in a school – but not in a teaching role – and others have volunteered with youth groups or tutored. The experience is helpful, but not required. Yet even after six months I don’t claim to be a teacher, or anywhere near one, in fact. Regardless, here are some tips from Yours Truly about doing a half-decent job of it.
When looking at the sheer extent of inequalities and atrocities faced by women in some other countries, it can be easy to assume any remnants of gender inequality in Britain are no longer worthy of attention. This impression of comfortable superiority is reinforced by the fact that the prime minister is, herself, a woman, and one who has publicly described herself as a feminist – though whether or not this description is considered to hold true would certainly depend on who you ask.
No two experiences of a year abroad can ever be the same: whether that’s due to the location, or the placement, or the weather on a particular day in the middle of November. So far, I’ve told you – quite bluntly – what my experience has been like. In the name of fairness, I spoke to five other assistants across France about their experiences: what they knew before leaving, if their expectations were met, what they would change, and what advice they would give someone heading abroad this September.
At this point in fourth year I sometimes feel like I’m coming to the end of a marathon (a laughable comparison for anyone even remotely familiar with my running abilities). It’s about mile 23 or 24; I’m fatigued (mostly from my own whining about how many assignments I have left to do before the end of the semester), slightly bored and lacking motivation to undertake that final push to cross the finish line. My auntie once actually did run a marathon, and had an apparently transformative experience when someone gifted her a banana for an energy boost about halfway through – I would argue that many fourth years are desperately in need of a metaphorical banana (absolutely not a euphemism) at this point in the year in order to keep trudging along until we reach the end and are finally able to don our graduation gown with a huge sigh of relief. Whilst having a graduate job or a place on a Master’s course lined up may serve as great motivation to maintain the dragging library sessions – and you know, succeed at life – sometimes it’s nice to plan something a little more spontaneous. So, how about some post-graduation travel adventures?
Last Saturday morning I was sat on the back row of a tiny, Edinburgh-bound plane. On the other side of the cabin sat an older man and woman; her head perched on his shoulder as she slept; him sat attentively reading an English phrasebook. Essentials, such as ‘may I have a mixed salad please?’, were translated from (what I assume was) his native Italian. As Anglophones, the idea that we’d have to learn another language for a trip is hardly top of our priorities. Everyone speaks English, don’t they? Why am I even bothering with this bloody degree? What’s the point?
I had some doubts on writing about the United States, and specifically about Donald Trump, again this month; I already wrote an article on Trump and white women voters back in December, and the whole purpose of this column is to address issues facing women in all different parts of the world. In light of recent events, however, I felt it was justified. The Trump administration’s attack on women’s rights may have been signed into US law, but the consequences extend far beyond the USA – as, thankfully, does the outrage and backlash generated.