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Moving to Lyon & working with MES; an honest interview with Isobel 💬

Dernière mise à jour : 6 mai 2023

Isobel joined MES in September 2021 after graduating from Birmingham University with a Bachelor's degree in French and Russian. She's worked with three different families, looking after and teaching English to kids ranging from 4 to 9 years old. We asked her to share her experience of living & working in Lyon post-Brexit.

Why did you want to move to France after graduation?

After the pandemic cut short my semester abroad in Toulouse, I was determined to get back to France. I love using the language so much, it’s such a beautiful country and I’ve always wanted to live here!

When it came to looking for a job, were there lots of opportunities to choose from?

Whilst there were definitely opportunities to work in France, most of them required me to either have the right to work in the EU or a masters, five years experience and a knighthood to even be considered. As a recent graduate in post-Brexit Britain, it seemed my options were limited.

How did you hear about My English Sister?

I actually heard about My English Sister through one of their Facebook posts! After trawling LinkedIn, and everywhere else you’d think to apply for a job, I joined a Facebook group for foreigners in Lyon and there staring at me in the signature Poppins font was an advert to join MES.

Why did you end up choosing to work with My English Sister?

It was exactly what I was looking for. After a pandemic’s worth of zoom classes and hours upon hours of staring into the hollow google doc void, post-graduation I did not want to be in an office. Being in person and teaching through play sounded perfect.

In addition to this, from the first telephone interview, I felt Katy’s warmth and passion. Along with Charlotte, she helped me navigate the visa process and has always been at the end of the phone if I’ve had a problem.

What’s it like working with MES?

It’s been challenging at times but very rewarding! In the beginning it wasn’t always smooth sailing: it was scary for the three year old who had never spent the day with anyone but her family to accept me as her English Sister. Whilst her older sibling instantly wanted to play unicorns, wizards and dragons with me, she would routinely cry and lay out sticks for me to trip over. Her plan, although calculated, was too slapstick to be anything but adorable.

Fast forward six weeks and the same little girl would be sat on my lap counting to ten, racing her sister around the room to find the ‘broccoli’ flashcard I had hidden for them, and giving me weekly parting gifts (often various plastic rings) that I could keep until I saw her next. The bond you make, alongside seeing the incredible progress in their English, is beyond compare.

What’s it been like living in Lyon?

Lyon is BEAUTIFUL! The architecture is gorgeous, there’s not one but two rivers, and the sky seems to always be blue. It’s not big enough to be overwhelming but still has several distinct areas all with their own feel.

Was it easy for you to settle in France, and get yourself set up with a bank account, accommodation and the necessary paperwork?

I would love to say yes, but no. Everything here requires an eye-watering amount of paperwork (such as birth certificates no more than three months old?!) and despite help from the MES team, French bureaucracy is just very tricky to navigate.

Finding accommodation was definitely the hardest part, not only do you need to find somewhere but often you need a French guarantor - two options I can recommend using are Visale / GuarantMe which act as guarantors for people that don’t have one, or look into a ‘colocation intergénérationnelle’. You will be paired with an older person who is just missing a bit of company in their lives. You agree to spend a couple of evenings a week at home with them and run errands such as food shopping, and in return you have your very own French grandma and a highly reduced rent!

In terms of meeting people, the BlaBla language exchanges are a great way to get to know French people and other foreigners in Lyon. The SINGA association is there to help foreigners settle in, and every arrondissement has an MJC with lots of events on.

What have you gained from the experience?

Apart from a very wide unicorn-based vocabulary, a big love for this beautiful city, lots of memories and a little bit of pride in actually moving here and doing what I’ve always wanted to do. My French has definitely improved in terms of understanding colloquialisms and natural interjections, and whilst it may sound cringey my time here has given me an appreciation of how important people’s kindness is. When you’re out here with no support network of family and friends, someone just taking the time to have a real conversation and be patient with a language barrier really makes a big difference. If there’s an international student in your class, make the effort to really speak to them!

What are your plans and ambitions moving forward?

As much as I love it here, a visit from my family made me realise how much I miss home and everyone back there. I’m currently applying to French-speaking roles in the environmental sector back in the UK that hopefully pay enough to have a holiday back to France every so often.

Et voila ! If you've recently graduated and want to try living la vie française you can check out our opportunities here.

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