7 AM wakeup. Breakfast. Coffee. Walk to school. Learn things. Get lunch. Sit in park. Plan things. Teach things. Walk home. Make dinner. Watch a show. Go to sleep. Repeat once per weekday.
Thus is the life of a TEFL student: 9 AM-7 PM school days, and very little me-time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
On the weekends, I explored the Pink City for myself.
First, here’s my fantastic flat! Probably the best lodging I ever had in France in terms of privacy, location, price, size, and facilities. Plus, my landlord was a gem. He would often throw parties in our courtyard/garden, so I met people.
When I wasn’t in my flat, I was probably either in the TEFL center or in a park. There were several options.
The green space in front of La Garonne, the major river that runs through Toulouse:
And the Grand Rond, which I walked through every day on my way to training:
It made for a beautiful morning. I started meeting my new friend Imi on a bench in the Grand Rond in the mornings for a pre-work chat (and sometimes a croissant and coffee as well).
As you can see from the pictures, Toulouse was more often than not a sunny paradise. For the first two weeks, it rained a lot, and I experienced the mistral wind, famous in Toulouse for making people crazy. Then, it got really hot (like, in the 90s F/30s C) on our last week. It was even 28-30 C at 10 PM! Luckily, my apartment was in a basement, so I stayed cool while sleeping.
The weekends were a mix of routine and adventure. Each weekend, I spent Sunday at the Marché de St. Aubin, where I bought my produce and eye-feasted on all the pretty handmade jewelry & the cool Toulousain people.
I sometimes went for drinks with people from the course, making new friends as well! And I usually spent the day walking around exploring.
The Canal du Midi trail reminds me of the Sammamish River Trail, which is right by my house!
La Garonne, the river! Here’s Toulouse’s Pont Neuf (every city has one):
I also managed to find my BFF Cara‘s old haunt (and Ashley‘s, of course!), from when she was a TAPIF assistant near Toulouse and came into the city with her friends. It used to have a flirtatious waiter, but he seems to have disappeared, much to my chagrin. I had a delicious curry crêpe in honor of good memories.
Toulouse is a “big city” compared to Valenciennes (even though it’s actually pretty small), and the atmosphere is totally different. There’s Spanish essence permeating the air of the pink city. People are out on the streets until midnight every night, dining from 8 PM on the many places filled with outdoor seating. The Southern accent is twangy, and I still have trouble catching everything people say down here. There are also Spanish speakers everywhere. I’ve met Cubans, Ecuadorans, Spaniards, and French people who are half Spanish or spend all their time in Spain.
There is an expat community, just like everywhere else in France that I’ve been, which could’ve been fun had I been in Toulouse for longer! I was talking with friends last night about why we internationals tend to mostly meet each other. Do we attract other internationals because we all have things in common? Do we put off the locals with our transitional nature? Or is who we meet where really just random chance?
I guess we’ll never know. In any case, Toulouse treated me so, so well. I’ve graduated TEFL with a teaching certificate and renewed confidence and teaching energy, and I’m leaving Toulouse with the intention of returning someday!
In a couple of days it’s off to Barcelona, then….HOME. More to come.
I’ll leave you with a cute photo: