cover BLOG

Hi, I’m Nika.

I’m 23.
Russian-American Francophile.
Born in Azerbaijan, raised in Los Angeles.
Studied at UC Berkeley. Went abroad to France.
Taught in Bordeaux, with TAPIF.


My story
In my junior year at UC Berkeley, I studied for a semester in Bordeaux, France. It was a transformative experience. I began to write more than ever before and experience life through a new angle. I made friends both from France and from my program, and had the opportunity to travel. While abroad, I kept a blog, letting the world know what I was up to. I documented what it was like to live away from home, and how it felt to redefine yourself through another culture and language all the while wondering what I was going to do once I finish school.

Coming back to the US, I continued with my blog, NikaLikesMaps. I worked on my follow-up video and encouraged friends and acquaintances to go out and experience the world by telling them it was possible with planning and prudence. I never failed to mention the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship which has helped me tremendously with finances abroad. I volunteered at Berkeley’s study abroad fair in the fall and looked for opportunities to meet international students.

But when I came back to the US, I knew something else. I wanted to go back to France. In my first week back and after rigorous internet research, I came across TAPIF, the Teaching Assistant Program In France. It is a program of the French Embassy’s Department of Cultural Services which sends Americans to France to teach English. I was in. So, in my last year at college, I tutored French at the French department at UC Berkeley, taught English at the East Bay Sanctuary of Berkeley (a program that I started and ran), and privately tutored two Japanese students learning English. As I did these activities weekly, I also continued my education at my university where I studied linguistics, French and Spanish. Where as before being abroad I majored only in linguistics, now I was easily able to declare a double major in French as well. I read French literature, translated English, Spanish and French, took a methodology course on teaching the French language, and worked to save up for plans after college.

In short, my last year at Berkeley was me looking for international opportunities as I thought about life after college. Do I want to teach in France? What should I do to prepare for that? Do I want to pursue a Master’s Degree? In the US or in France? What profession should I pursue? What do I need to do to get there and who do I have to meet? Are there events I need to attend? Research I should be reading? Blogs I should be keeping? Should I start a YouTube channel and a Facebook page for learners of the English language?

I did start a YouTube channel and a Facebook page. And I got accepted to teach with TAPIF (and in Bordeaux too!). So I’ll be going back to France in the fall. But many of the other questions, I still had and have unanswered. But I know one thing. The languages I have studied and the experiences I have gained both abroad and at home would never, ever hurt.


Some cool stuff:
facebook for Nika Likes Maps
and the gallery
contact: nikalikesmaps@gmail.com


click here



  1. azladida · January 28, 2013

    I followed you! :* Love your creativity!

  2. Mike · February 17, 2013


  3. russianmartini · February 18, 2013

    I am also Russian, born in Azerbaijan, living in the USA. Small world! Great blog! Am jealous of your French sojourn. I was in France for a semester abroad back in 1997 – best time of my life.

  4. camille saez · February 18, 2013

    this is a great blog i like what you have done

  5. nicsterio · February 19, 2013

    Hey, great site! I just nominated you for a Liebster Award! Go to my last post for the details!

  6. chezmoiabordeaux · February 19, 2013

    Hi Nika! We are Italians and we live in Bordeaux too. We are happy to follow your blog! So….. Vive la France!

  7. Angie · February 19, 2013

    Hi Nika, I love your blog! You’ve got really interesting posts and pictures. I’ve nominated you for Liebster Award. If you’d like, you can view more about it here. http://momentsinyourlife.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/the-liebster-award/ 🙂

  8. DAKOTA · February 20, 2013

    Hey Nika!! My name is Dakota. I lived in Bordeaux in 2011, and I’m returning in May. My partner is a Tahitian, and I’m from New Zealand. I would love to meet you for coffee some time if you’d like to meet new cool traveler friends. My blog is http://dakotad.com or my e-mail is dakotad.com@gmail.com

    Have a great week!!! !:)

  9. Lizzy · February 25, 2013

    Hiya, I really liked your blog so I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award. Hope you don’t mind! The post is here:


  10. Cristina Luisa · March 4, 2013

    Hi there, Nika! Thanks for sharing your journeys into France and living as the “other”. I suppose I’m not the only one who really appreciates your words, as I’ve also nominated you for the Liebster Blogging Award. Here is the link: wp.me/p1l2vJ-an. I’d love if you could participate. But more than that, I hope you are having a wonderful time in France and are truly enjoying every unique moment that you encounter! 🙂

  11. Kyen Olyva · June 5, 2013

    Ahoj! nice to meet u

  12. Barry Chandres · August 11, 2013

    Awesome site Nika, nice running into you today at TJs:)

  13. agoodlittlenothing · October 22, 2014

    Hi Nika,

    Your blog is inspiring! I just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! More details can be found here: http://agoodlittlenothing.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/one-lovely-blog-award/

    Best of luck,
    Jill K

    • Nika Likes Maps · November 21, 2014

      Thanks Jill! That’s really nice of you. I’m checking it out right now.


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