Hey! You’re not Alone out there!

I don’t know about any of you, but I love meeting new people! That’s actually one of my main reasons I want to travel; to get to meet people from all over the world and hear their unique stories. As you all know I will be going to Au Pair in Paris without personally knowing anyone, let alone the family I will be staying with for the year.

 I never thought that I would be able to connect with so many people before I actually even set foot in the country that I’m going so that part has made the experience a lot more comforting and less frightening.! I feel the same way I did the summer before I left for my first year of university. I was going into a new place , studying a new language ( I went to a french university & studied immersion) in a foreign town without knowing anyone. The difference this time is that I have been able to talk to talk to people before I actually get there making the whole experience completely different, and honestly so much better. 

1. Facebook Groups

This has been the number one place that I have been able to meet other Au pairs that will be living in Paris! I originally joined the Au Pair Network Facebook group which then lead to connecting with other people going to Paris, so then we created our own group just consisting of au pairs that will be there for the 2014-2015 year!

The use of Facebook has been great! It’s fast, and the notifications go right to my phone when other members comment on posts. You can also create events and invite people to them which will be great once I get there! There is an annual Au pair picnic in Paris which I got invited to through Facebook and currently there are over 100 people attending! That’s 1/6 of the total people that live in my hometown here in Nova Scotia! 

It’s also been helpful when I’ve had questions about pretty much anything! I’m able to ask anything and receive answers from someone almost instantaneously. I will ask a question before I got o sleep and then by the time I wake up in the morning it’s been answered, along with multiple new friend requests from people from all over the world. I’ve even found other girls who will going to the same school as I am as well. 

Something that I haven’t liked about using Facebook would be the multiple requests from these “Meet-up exchanges” accounts. I actually added one once because I thought ” oh it will be good to be notified on the events taking place” but NO, it became way too often and half of the events were irrelevant to me. I mean sorry, but I’m not interested in Salsa dancing with old men. 

 2. Couchsurfing

When I first heard of this website I just figured it would come in handy when I needed a place to spend the night but once I actually looked into what it has to offer I was hooked! You can search what events are going on in the area that you will be travelling to! I’m actually going to Maine for a couple days and used this site to connect with people who live there to see if anyone wanted to meet up and also what things I should do while I’m there! I defiantly will be using this site in the future when I plan my backpacking trip next year or even when attending events happening in Paris! 

 3. MeetUp.com

This was the first site that I found when I was searching for Au pairs that would be in Paris! I didn’t really like it at first because you have to write a short biography every time that you want to join a group but all in all, I was still able to connect with others! Something that I do enjoy about this media site is that there are so many different groups in the same area. For instance I’m a member on the Au pairs in Paris, Canadians in Paris, and Girls in Paris Meet up groups allowing me to meet more people and be involved in more activities. 

 4. Blogs & Instagram

When I first started looking into Au pairing I searched the tag “Au pair” on tumblr and found a lot of sites but they were very broad and the locations would range from all over the world. It was helpful just for general information about Au pairing in general, but it was difficult to find people in Paris specifically. I also use My WordPress feed to keep up to date on posts from blogs that I have found throughout my searches! Using Instagram I was able to find users but it took a lot of searching ! I actually came across quite a few users that I had already met form another social media website.

I’m sure that there are many other ways to connect with other travelers on the web but these have been the ones that I have found useful!

All in all I’m extremely happy to be able to have met so many fellow travelers before even arriving in France! It makes the whole situation a lot less frightening knowing that I will have at least friends there once I arrive and I won’t be alone. I’m really excited to meet everyone that I have already had a chance to talk to and look forward to meeting more people once I get there!

Advertisements

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins

I love trying new recipes especially healthy ones that are single serve because lets be honest, I’m greedy with my protein powder and baking supplies!

I found this recipe over at Dumbbell Diaries  made by the lovely Kelcey! If you haven’t checked out her blog/instagram I suggest it because she’s not only gorgeous but defiantly a huge inspiration to me!

photo 3 (3)

Recipe:

makes 4 full sized cupcakes 

  • 1 scoop vanilla about time protein
  • 2 egg whites or 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot/zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Stevia if you want them sweeter
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used the new coconut flavor and it turned out great!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place 4 muffin tins into your pan. Fill 1/2 way with batter (they will rise and become fluffy). Bake for 15-20 mins!

photo 4 (2)

Topped with a mixture of Greek yogurt and cool whip because i’m obsessed and it gave it a sweet taste similar to icing! Next time I want to try to make donuts out of this batter!

I’m trying to use up my quest bars before i leave because unfortunately my bag will not have room for 30 of them so i’m being creative and making fun things with them again! Made donuts with my favorite bar “vanilla almond crunch” topped with greek yogurt for and sprinkles because like Kelcey says, #sprinklesdonthavecalories haha!

 

How to go a shopping vacation without buying anything

Well folks, the long crazy process of becoming an au pair has finally come to an end. My visa has arrived back in my arms! Thankfully I didn’t have to schedule an appointment with the consulate like many other au pairs have had to do, so I sent my documents last Thursday and here it is the following Friday and it’s back here in Nova Scotia from Montreal. It’s crazy how fast they completed it considering how much trouble i have had with them in terms of customer service. 

So now there’s nothing left for me to do here but wait oh and the lovely process of packing a year’s worth of things I need into two small bags; no biggie. 

My family is planning a trip to Maine a couple weeks before I leave and obviously shopping in Maine means lot’s of outlets…. I LOVE the shopping down there, and unfortunately I’, not going to be able to buy anything because my bags are already stuffed as it is. So the question becomes, how will I still enjoy my vacation when my siblings are all able to indulge in what they want and I cant? 

1. I have been in charge of mapping our route of where to go and what to do so my main focus has been on planning non-shopping related activities. This includes a must stop to Old Orchard Beach for a day in the sun and a trip to the amusement park of course.

We do have a day planned to shop at the kittery outlets which we haven’t gone to before, and this is going to be hard for me especially with a Lululemon outlet.. kill me now! I am obsessed with this brand, and it’s going to be tough, but i’m praying they won’t have anything I like or in my size! 

One thing I will not feel guilty about buying at Lululemon will be wunder under leggings in black. These are the perfect travel pant and since I already own 3 similar pairs I know that I will wear them! 

2. Make a list of the things you actually could use and may need. For instance I know that I need to get a pair of new pj’s and a couple pairs of underwear to take with me so I will focus on finding my favorites of those items. I also need a few smaller items like locks, a water bottle, a journal, etc.. 

3. I’m a huge foodie so I have been researching restaurants and cafes that I want to check out. By knowing what is there I’m looking forward to checking them out as opposed to shopping and buying clothes I don’t need. 

The Holey Donut is one of the places on my list of must-eats in Portland! Their donuts are made with maine potatos and are apparently to die for, so i’m going to have to check it out for myself! 

4. Leave your extra money at home! I will only be taking my debit card with me and no cash or visa eliminating the urge to splurge!

5. Try and enjoy spending time with the people you are with and plan things that you can enjoy together without spending money. I know that my sister will be looking for back to school clothes so I will be able to help her find clothes without having to buy anything myself. 

Paris Packing list: Round 1

So begins the challenging task of packing for a year abroad in Paris. Not only do I have to pack for a whole year but 4 seasons! The first step I took was to go out and purchase two 29 inch suitcases which I thought would be the best option considering they were on sale 25 % off.

After purchasing the suitcases my neighbor gave me her huge backpack that she used while backpacking over Europe. I think that I will return one of the suitcase and then take the backpack and one of the larger cases because after my contract is up I plan to travel to the places in Europe that I don’t get to see during the year.

I had a really hard time deciding what jackets I would need because here in Canada I’m used to the winters being blistering cold where it’s essential to have a puffer down filled coat. I’m someone that is typically always cold even when everyone else isn’t so I figured that I should bring my winter coat just in case the pea coat doesn’t work. A rain jacket is essential so I’m bringing my green north face jacket.

IMG_3401

Bottoms

IMG_3411

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair dress pants
  • 1 pair black skinny jeans
  • lululemon astro pants
  • lululemon wunder under crops
  • 1 black skirt
  • lululemon run shorts

Tops

IMG_3414

  • 3 v neck t-shirts
  • Black, white, grey
  • 3 tank tops
  • Black, white, patterned
  • 2 lululemon racer back tanks

Sweaters/Cardigans

IMG_3412

  • 1 Black blazer
  • 1 grey sweater
  • 1 black sweater
  • 4 cardigans ( purple, black, brown, ,white)

 

Various Blouses

They are light and don’t take up a lot of space so I didn’t restrict on what I wanted to take

 IMG_3410

I only packed 2 dresses and 1 skirt because I will rarely be seen in anything like this. I’m pretty active so I hate being limited to my ability to do things because of wearing a dress, and quite frankly i’m not into dressing up at all.

 IMG_3405

Shoes

IMG_3395

  • Brown high riding boots
  • black flat booties
  • sneakers
  • Birkenstock
  • sandals
  • black flats
  • toms

Hoodies

I’m only bringing 2 lululemon hoodies which saddens me because I am a lulu addict, so it’s very hard to leave all of my favorites behind! I do realize that lululemon isn’t even sold in France but it’s what I live in here, and I want to be comfortable while I’m there.

ESSENTIALS

Yes, i must admit I’m a HUGE foodie and a questbar addict so I’m bringing along these 12 bars along with my favorite pb2 because i’m unsure if they will be in France or not!

IMG_3422

 

Undergarments

IMG_3421

  • 3 Bras
  • 10 underwear
  • 10 socks
  • 1 sports bra
  • 3 lululemon headbands
  • 1 pair wool socks (what can i say, i’m Canadian and yes I wear them with my birkenstocks)

Personal Items

IMG_3418

  • Curling wand
  • make-up bag
  • 1 razor
  • travel bag filled with travel sized products (shampoo, conditioner, soap, PONDS CREAM (necessity) …
  • year long worth of birth control (only one shown)
  • hair, nails and skin pills
  • deodorant
  • 1 package of tampons
  • Toothpaste/Toothbrush * missing

Extras

IMG_3415

  • Umbrella
  • 1 bikini (might add a one piece for swimming with the family)
  • 1 belt
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of mittens
  • 2 scarves ( these could increase…. i have a slight addiction)

Some gifts for my host family! Their daughter is 6 and is obsessed with animals so I brought her a stuffed moose! She loves to read and I found some second hand books for cheap! Random assortment of puzzles, stickers, magnets..

MAPLE SYRUP is a necessity and i’m thinking I may bring along a bottle of wine if there’s room because I must say we make some decent wine here in the Annapolis valley.

IMG_3403

Electronics

  • Iphone & chargers – will be unlocked before I leave
  • Laptop and chargers
  • Camera & Chargers
  • SD cards
  • Ipad/Iphone & chargers
  • Ipad case and charger
  • Convertor for wall plug
  • external battery pack
  • headphones
  • Polar watch and heart rate band
  • Flash drive

Documents

  • Passport and copy
  • Visa and copy
  • Plane tickets
  • Contract and copy
  • Credit cards/ Debit Cards
  • Wallet
  • Address and phone number of Host family in Paris
  • Extra Passport pictures
  • Copies of Canadian Resume (you never know what opportunities may present themselves)

Extras

  • Water Bottle
  • Ziploc Bags
  • utensils
  • portable wine glass?
  • mini locks
  • travel books/dictionary

I plan on using my north face backpack as my carry on which I will fill with my electronics. I’m bringing a large purse as well as my “personal item” because the extra space wont hurt right?

So at the end of this day long ask of packing I was able to fit it all into one of the suitcases but unfortunately it weighs 55 pounds (over my limit) but I do have the extra bag… I’m going to separate the items between the suitcase and the hiking bag even though it will cost 85 dollars more for an extra luggage but I think I will feel better having everything I want.

I have 33 days until I leave on my adventure so this list will probably change (mostly with add-ons unfortunately ). If anyone has any advice or tips on what to bring or not to I would love to hear it!

 Follow me on Bloglovin’ <a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12607119/?claim=58pmaepp6pt”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

My ever growing obsession with Questbars

When I bought my first quest bar I had no sweet clue what they were for, the ingredients, when to eat them, etc.. It was in the mist of when I became obsessed with fitness and being “healthy” notice the brackets because looking back, I was no wheres near healthy. My instagram became full of these protein bars so I figured that they must be the best thing out there for fitness junkies. I remember the first one I bought which was White Chocolate Raspberry. Of course I ate it raw because I wasn’t yet informed of the amazing other ways to eat these glorious bars. This moment was the beginning of an expensive yet satisfying addiction. The taste was so good, and because they weer claimed “healthy” they tasted that much better.My paychecks stopped going towards things like clothes and shoes and all for my new found love; questbars! 

The negative side started when I became obsessed with protein and I wouldn’t eat other nutrition bars with less than 10 grams of protein. Yes, our bodies need this macro but it will be harmful if we eat too much! Especially fiber, these bars contain 19 grams of it! If you aren’t drinking enough water than you may experience bloating, gas and stomach issues. I know that personally whenever I consume a large amount of protein I am instantly bloated. 

I’ve tried quite a few of the flavors and definatly can’t say that I enjoy them all. If I had to rank the ones that I’ve tried from best to worst they would be as followed: 

1. White Chocolate Raspberry

2. Vanilla Almond Crunch

3. Cookies & Cream

4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

5. Chocolate Brownie

6. Coconut Cashew

7. Double Chocolate Chunk (I find this one too bitter for my liking)

8. Chocolate Peanut Butter

9. Banana Nut Muffin

10. Strawberry Cheesecake 

I’m still currently in love with them but I’ve realized that realistically it is not responsible for me to spend $35 on 12 bars when I really don’t necessarily need the nutrients in them. I eat them because I love them now, not because I need to get the extra protein in after a workout. I’ve been able to use my love for baking with them as well and have successfully created so many different goodies! 

 

Sibling Bonds

I grew up as an only child for the first 7 years of my life, and then in 2000 I became a sister to not one, but 3 siblings! My sister was born in February and my brothers in November that year. The excitement that I felt about finally having the responsibility of being the “big sister” was incredible and i wouldn’t change that for the world. There are times when the thought of what it would be like if I had of gone through life as an only child come up, and when they do I instantly feel ashamed. Who wouldn’t want three beautiful siblings in their life? 

As the years progressed and they became more independent the tension and fighting grew, as it does with many siblings I’m sure but it never changes the fact that we are a family with an ever growing bond. I have been able to watch them grow from every word they said up to now when they are entering high school. I thoroughly enjoy being their older sisters and having the responsibility of helping out whenever I can. 

Being the oldest has its benefits, but boy isn’t it aggravating seeing your younger siblings not having to embrace the strict rules that you had to. It seems so much easier for them to do the things that I was always told “No” or had to really work hard to convince my parents to let me do. I mean, I wasn’t even allowed to hold a guys hand at 15 where my sisters had a boyfriend at 10. I do realize that the times are changing and kids are experiencing things a lot earlier than I did when I was growing up.  

Positives (for the most part)  of being the oldest

1. You get to experience a lot of things that your siblings may not get to do. I was able to go on a grad trip with my mom, which I can’t see happening for my siblings where they will all be graduating within a year of each other. 

2. For 7 years I had one on one attention from both of my parents which I hate to admit it, but made me kind of spoiled. 

3. I am able to be a role model for the 3 of them. I work hard in school and have always been an competitive athlete with many different sports. I see them doing things that I once did which is gratifying to say the least. 

4. I’ve been able to experience a lot of things on my own which I have taught to my older siblings how to do themselves. 

Sisterly Love

I can honestly say that I love my sister to death, and reflecting on our relationship these past couple of years It saddens me that I haven’t taken the time to spend more time with her. Here I am leaving the country for at least a year, and I will miss out on so many things in her life.  If i’m in pain she’s the first person I go to in any situation, as I hope that when she hurts she knows that I am there for her. 

I’ve found that our age differences made it hard to bond while we were both younger but now she is 14 and we seem to have more in common than ever. She’s blossoming into a beautiful young woman and I couldn’t be more proud.

We fight as any sisters do, but no matter how many times we scream and yell we will always be sisters no matter where our lives takes us.

So you want to be an au pair in France?

First things first, make sure you ENJOY children… Yes, you get to live in another country and travel but the main reason you will be there is to do your job which is to watch over someone else’s child. Once you know that this is something you are truly interested in pursuing then it’s time to start the long process!

  1. Find an au pair agency or do it yourself!

I chose to use https://www.aupair-world.net/ in order to connect with my current host family and I would recommend the site to anyone interested! It was extremely easy to use and I loved the feature where it would send me an e-mail when I received an inquiry from another family. I originally was going to go through scotia personnel to find a family but their procedure was a lot more work than i had hoped for and honestly, I was able to do everyone on my own anyways and saved the agency fee of $600. 

  1. Do your research

Make sure you know where you are willing to travel and learn about the country and if it appeals to you. For me I knew I wanted to go to a country where French or English were their official languages because those are what are used here in Canada and would be beneficial for when I return. I chose to turn away a few families from the Netherlands and Spain because I knew that I didn’t want to learn a third language at this point in my life.

Look into the requirements for the particular country you plan on working in because they will vary from place to place. In France for instance, you have to be between the ages of 18-30, be single without children, be willing to enroll in French lessons, and be able to pay for your own travel costs.

  1. Start communicating to families

In the beginning I messaged any family that was of interest to me because I felt I wanted to have the most opportunities possible instead of just focusing on one family. I emailed back and forth with quite a few families and even skyped some which made it easier to communicate. Once I found the family that I knew I wanted to work for we went over important details such as working hours, days off, etc. We started skyping back and forth each week just to check in and to make sure both sides were still on the same page.

  1. The not-so-fun contract

First make sure that you have a valid passport in your own country or you will not get much further in this process, and passports can take a while to get!

Come to an agreement with your host family on your working hours, days off, what they will be paying for, transportation, etc. They will formulate a contract which will need to be signed by both parties in order to be sent to the DIRECCTE. My host father created a contract and I reviewed it through PDF then when I agreed with the conditions he mailed me 4 copies of it which I then signed and sent back to France along with

  • A health certificate from my doctor stating I’m “healthy”
  • My latest diploma from school (college graduation)
  • A copy of my passport
  • A motivation letter written in French stating who I am and why I want to come into France to work as an au pair

During this time I spontaneously bought my one way ticket to Paris because I saw a good price and didn’t want to let it get away. I would suggest buying it as soon as you know for sure that you are going to go, because the prices will rise.

I also used Facebook to connect with other au pairs that are going to Paris in September! I was really nervous int he beginning about going to a new country and not knowing anyone but through facebook groups I’ve been able to connect with dozens of other people in the same situation! There’s also so many events posted for au pairs and expats in the area which i’m really looking forward to attending!

  1. Almost There!

Your host family will take your documents to the DIRECCTE and wait for them to be stamped. They say that it can take up to two weeks but luckily it only took 3-4 days for mine! During this process you should enroll in French lessons in the area you will be living because you will need an enrollment letter to apply for your visa.

Once your contract has been approved your host family will mail your documents back to you so you can further go your visa application process. For me I had to deal with the France consulate in Montreal and let me tell you… they are not the easiest people to get a hold of, nor the friendliest.

Depending on where you are located the consulate will be different and the regulations of what is needed for the process could vary. This is the link to the Montreal consulate which the list of documents that I had to send http://www.consulfrance-montreal.org/Visa-for-family-live-in-caregiver . I know of a lot of people who had to book an appointment in order to process their application but in my situation I only had to mail it to their office, along with an Xpresspost envelope ($20 dollars later) so they can return my passport, and important documents.

  1. Waiting time!

Now that you have sent off your documents along with your signed contract you can relax and wait for your visa to be approved (fingers crossed)

Once you arrive in France you will need to get registered with the OFII within 3 months of your arrival. You should have sent the OFII form along with your visa application which will be what you need to get certified in France.

I decided to create this procedure list because I think it would have been extremely helpful for me to have something when I was going through the process myself. I found it really confusing and would have liked to have been able to at least have an outline of how to go about completing the steps.

.

Strawberry Shortcake Protein Pancakes

T’is the season for strawberries! Our crops haven’t been doing well but I was lucky enough to find a good box to bring home because nothing beats local berries. Actually had a fair amount of time to cook a decent breakfast before the power went out (going on 5 days now) so i figured why not some strawberry shortcake to start the day off right! Since this breakfast I haven’t been able to have a home cooked meal and probably won’ for another couple days! It’s crazy what a storm can do, and how much we rely on power to do pretty much everything no a days. 

 

Recipe: 

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp pyllisum husk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup shredded zucchini

Mix all together and place on a preheated pan! Cook for 2-4 minutes on either side then flip and top with vanilla greek yogurt and strawberries! Don’t forget the maple syrup 😀

Why did I turn down my “dream” job to travel the world ?

Growing up I was always the girl with the plan and thought I knew exactly what I wanted from day to day. Upon completing my financial services program at our provincial community college. I was on my way to a successful path in life once again with job offers with different companies. This was what I had wanted for so long, yet it didn’t feel right. I could feel that my heart wasn’t in it and there wasn’t a bone in my body that was excited about the next step in my life. I started second guessing everything I had done in my life.

  • What if this career wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life?
  • Is sitting at a desk for the rest of my life exciting?
  • Do I really want to get sucked into a job without experiencing so many thing in life that i’ve always dreamed of doing?

The last day of classes I decided that I wasn’t going to do what was “the plan” or so I thought.
I was going to embark on a journey to Europe; somewhere new that I hadn’t been before. I originally wanted to backpack alone but that didn’t go over well with anyone in my family so I considered other options and decided to look into au pairing, which would give me an income at the same time! I was fortunate to find a lovely family located in Paris which was exactly what I was looking for because I had already taken a year of french immersion at a french university and could use the extra practice.
The more people that I told, the more real it felt. It was great how supportive everyone was with my decision to throw away my recent education and leave on a whim to a foreign country. The majority of the people regretted not doing it while they were young and had no ties. It was all very reassuring that I was making the right choice.

When I talk about traveling I get this sense of excitement and uncertainly which i love. I spend my days when i;m not working reading blogs and researching all of the places that I want to go before I settle down.. and honestly who knows, maybe I won’t ever settle down. That’s the beauty of this new me; theres no certainty to anything meaning the possibilities are endless. I recently ended my 6 year relationship with my high school sweetheart, and I honestly feel so free. There’s nothing holding me back from any opportunity that may present itself because I have no plans for the future anymore.

The morning I spontaneously bought my plane ticket was the moment I knew that I was doing this; I was finally doing something just for me. I’m extremely frugal with money so for me to buy a one way ticket in the spur of the moment really told me that this is what I truly want to do; what will make me happy.

I don’t want to say that I’m not happy here in my small village but I feel that I have a lot more to offer the world and need to see what else is out there. There’s nothing left for me here.. Family will always be here but I find it more depressing being in a small-town with limited “friends” and things to do. With one bar in town and it being 15 minutes away, it really doesn’t make for an exciting place with many opportunities. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled quite a bit through my childhood considering having a large family, but never anything like this; and alone at that. I’m not sure if I should be afraid of this adventure i’m about to go on, but i’m honestly not the least bit scared.. yet anyways.

What do I plan to get out of this trip?

  • A new relationship with a family i’ve never met
  • To see places I’ve always dreamed of seeing but never thought I would be able to experience
  • Met people from all over the world doing the same thing that I am. Facebook has been incredible for connecting a group of au pairs that will be in together in the fall.
  • I have no intention of making money while being in Paris as an au pair so my income will just be going towards daily expenses and traveling on the weekends. I have been working since I was 12 to save up for that “something” and the time has finally come to use it.
  • Last but not least I want to find what truly makes me happy. I feel that what I think is happiness here is just a substitute for something out there that has been waiting for me. Only time will tell, but i’m ready for the endless experiences i’m about to embark on.