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IFE alums find their way back to Europe

Your mémoire is sent, you’ve said goodbye to your colleagues, your IFE program has come to an end. But maybe you’re not ready to leave. Maybe you’re not done with Europe just yet. Maybe the semester has opened up your eyes to the possibility of a future outside the US. You start thinking of ways to return to France or Belgium...

If this sounds like a familiar scenario, you’re not alone! For many IFE students, the field study and internship program is the first phase of their time in Europe. After graduating, students return to France and Belgium through different means. Popular among those are the TAPIF program, in which Americans come to France for a year to assist English teachers in schools. This program, run by the French government, pays students a small stipend for part-time work, while giving them a residence visa and access to French health care (in addition to the possibility of working part time.) Many IFE alums apply to this program as a means to return to Europe and expand their understanding of France. One such alum, Sam (STR S19) has returned to the Alsace region. He is currently teaching in the town of Sélestat.

The Fulbright program also offers English-teaching posts in Europe, as well as grants for post-grad research. If the latter are very competitive, they are not the only such grants. IFE alums have found their way back via research, building on their IFE research and networks they developed while on the program.

Others return to do graduate programs in a French or Belgian university. An IFE semester can give students an entrée into the French academic world, and transitioning from stagiaire to grad student is a natural step. It’s also a cost-saving step, as graduate programs in Europe are much less expensive than comparable degrees in the US! A good example is IFE alum Christina (STR F19), who, after interning at a company that works in recruitment during her IFE semester, returned to Strasbourg last fall to begin a masters in human resources at l’ESCM Business School.

Still others have had the good fortune to be able to return to Europe to continue their work with their internship organizations (though this route is perhaps the most challenging from an immigration standpoint.) Nora (PAR S20), whose internship at the Galerie Eric Dupont was sadly cut short by COVID shutdowns last spring, was able to return to do a full 6 month internship this past October.

Still others find that IFE has whet their appetite for Europe, and chose to explore completely new countries. Such was the case for Teddy Wansink, after completing the Paris program in Spring 2019 followed by the Brussels program in Fall 2019. Here is what Teddy had to say about his choice:

When did you decide you wanted to come back to Europe? What drew you back?

I knew I wanted to come back to Europe while I was still studying with IFE! I started researching programs and thought it would be a nice change of pace to try a new country and learn a new language, so I decided to teach English in Madrid, Spain with the Auxiliares de Conversación program.

What does your average week look like?
Four days a week, I go to my high school and lead English conversation classes. The rest of the time, I study Spanish, explore Madrid, and work my second job as a video editor for FluentU

Any words of advice for other IFE alums hoping to move back to Europe?
There are plenty of programs to return abroad after IFE from work aways to TEFL to au pair programs, so it’s just a question of researching and finding the right fit!

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