“You’re just an au pair”

“You’re living the dream”

“You barely have to even work”

“You get to play with a kid all day, how hard is that”

“Don’t be lame, you can’t be tired from being an au pair”

My reaction?

irritated

I don’t know how many times I’ve head these phrases after telling someone about what I do for a job here in Paris. Trust me, it may seem like an “easy” job but think about being a parent, is that easy? I don’t think so. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love what i’m doing for the most part but there are times like any job where you just want to quit and run away, but thankfully kids seem to know exactly when to show their charm.

Today one of those days that really makes me appreciate what I actually do have here. It’s the 7th birthday of my girl  and since her mother is away on a business trip I really wanted to make it as special as I could. The day started with me getting a jumping hug and a bisous as soon as she came down the stairs. Thankfully I still remembered how to sing happy birthday in french and the father and I did a small celebration before school.

I surprised her with homemade donuts for gouter which she seemed pretty proud of I must admit.

Once we came back to the house we put on our aprons and got to work on chocolate cakes for her class party tomorrow. I must say, this was a moment that I will not forget. Being able to share your passion with someone else is an amazing feeling.

Memories like these are what I hope that she will remember when she’s a grown adult reflecting on her past.     

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And soon enough it will all be simply a memory

I feel like that lost student about to graduate, having to make a tough decision, yet not knowing what to do with her life. I thought by 21 I would have a good idea or at least a start to my life. This isn’t to say that my year abroad hasn’t been a start of my journey but more of a growing and learning experience. Sadly nothing lasts forever as I’m finding with each passing day is closer to the end of this adventure.

I’m excited to be free again to make the next step whatever that may be , but it’s almost scary not having an plan for what adventures lies ahead. I struggle with decisions; I always have, especially when faced with endless opportunities.

return home,
stay here,
travel more,
find a different job…

no matter what path I choose, there’s always going to the thought of which one is the best. I’m constantly reminding myself that what will be, will be with whatever choice I make in the end as there is never a perfect solution

We all have a story which is created by our choices. Choices that we may often regret but that lead to the next chapter of our life.

I want to look back on this chapter without any regrets. The question than becomes when does this chapter end; or will it ever?

Better yet, do i really want it to?

I’ve never felt more at peace with the freedom and ability to travel so easily and I’ve been taught that when we find happiness, ultimately we should try to stay in that place for as long as possible. It’s inevitable that I must move on at some point or another and often I struggle with when that point will be on a daily basis.

I have moments when I want to quit and go back to that sense of comfort at home but i’m not a quitter; I’m a fighter.

In the wise words of my mother that daily pass through my head

Life is not perfect.

I have four months left here in this beautiful country with my host family, who has grown to be not only the people who I live with, but a real family. My heart tells me I’m not ready to leave. This feeling narrowed my options down to a slim few which lead to my decision to create a workaway account on the whim one night at midnight. I paid the annual fee, therefore leading me to believe this is what I truly want to do. As with my nutrition school and deciding within one day to enroll following the payment of the tuition, I knew that staying in Europe is what my heart wanted to do.

I’ve gone 21 years following my head; focusing on the most logical decision and now, i’m just allowing life to figure out its own path for me, whatever that may be and wherever it may take me.

The beauty of this city never seizes to amaze me

What would you do with 10 euros

Upon stepping outside your house you realize that it’s a surprisingly mild day in Paris. The streets are bare for it’s Sunday morning which means a day of relaxation and family time for the local Parisians.

You stroll into an empty park and take in the beauty of the grounds and overall atmosphere surrounding you. A slight breeze stirs the leaves beneath your feet, blowing a piece of paper beneath your feet. Instantly you realize it’s not just paper but yet a bill; 10 euro to be exact.

The obvious action comes to mind and the bill slides quickly into your jacket pocket. You get a little high of having something you didn’t have 10 seconds ago and your mind starts to spin.

You could treat yourself to a warm croissant and an espresso.

Maybe you’d like a new hat or a pair of gloves.

You could have a couple glasses of wine at happy hour that evening

Your mind continues to discover the endless possibilities with what a mere ten euros could do for you.

You continue to walk through the park and into the quiet city and you’re thinking about what you’re going to do with that small bill. You pass cafes, shops and other pedestrians along the way none with a clue of what you found, just a short 10 minutes before.

Continuing on your journey, you come across a boy, and what looks to be his mother. laying on a mattress on the cold streets of Paris but you pass by like you do on any other occasion. Looking back you notice the empty starbucks cup waiting to be replenished with the days essential salary, but has yet to be filled.

Without thinking you return to that empty cup and do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do.

They didn’t beg nor did they talk but you know you changed their day with the faint smile on the young boys face. You aren’t aware of what how they will choose to spend it but you know they can use it. We all can use money no matter how much or how little we have.

You continue on your journey with the vision of that hot espresso and croissant long gone but the satisfaction of your choices elevated higher than you would have imagined.

Life goes on as if nothing had ever happened that day but inside you’ll never forget the smile on that boys face and how you changed his day.

As humans we are consumers; it’s inevitable, but the amount of our consumption is a choice.

Ten euros can’t buy a lot in today day and age but it’s still more than a lot of people can say they have in their pocket.

What would you do if you came across 10 euros laying on the ground in an abandoned park?

Barcelona in 6 six days with 200 euros

I’m not cheap; i’m frugal.

I like to make my dollar last as far as I can, I mean who wouldn’t right?

That being said I knew that when coming abroad to Europe I was going to do some travelling throughout the year. As we know, travelling isn’t cheap which is probably why many people don’t make it a huge part of their lives. In France, children get 2 weeks of vacation every 6 weeks of school. Typically if you get a good family Before I get to my budget for this day trip, I want to show you some amazing things that I was able to do!

Flight + insurance – 100 euros for flight + 10 euros for insurance

I booked this flight quite far in advance so just to be safe I bought the extra insurance. Needless to say, my flight got changed without me knowing and not getting reimbursed. Insurance failed in this situation.

In-ground Transportation – 5.90 euros

The best advice I have for planning your ground transport is to do your research before you go and either save your information to your phone or print off your directions. More than likely you will have wi-fi at the airport so you could always google it when you land. I took the shuttle bus to the city from the airport which was 5 euros and got me pretty close to my hostel actually.

The rest of the week I commuted throughout the city the best way I know how; with my own two feet. Walking does wonders people! Not only do I get to see the city as a local but there’s so many things you miss by travelling underground in the metro.

The whole duration of my trip I didn’t use the metro or bus system once because everything was in walking distance. For some reason on the shuttle bus back to the airport I didn’t have to pay which I wasn’t complaining about. More coffee at the airport!

Accommodation- 40 euros 

4 nights at HelloBCN – 7.80 euros per night

This place was awesome to be honest. I was a bit skeptical at first because of the area but it turned out better than i expected. The best thing? It almost felt like we were a big family. I got to know people that were actually living there long term as well as a couple amazing Austrian girls who I hope to keep in contact with.

The bad: The wifi was one of the worst things about he hostel which really isn’t a big deal,I mean maybe in today’s world it could be but if I needed the internet I just used the computers that were available.

2 nights at St Christopher’s Inn – Free. FREE? oui, gratuit!

You know those contests that you see pop up on Facebook where companies will ask you for your favorite experience with them? yeah I got lucky. I really liked the location of this hostel better than the other one; actually this area seemed like the time square of Barcelona. Within a 5 minute walk, you could access pretty much anything. Let’s talk about Breakfast…. gosh what can’t I say about this amazing buffet! Fresh coffee, baguette, meat, cheese, milk, cereal, oh and fresh fruit that’s not apples or bananas! The bad: The walls a

re paper thin. I didn’t sleep good at all at his hostel because there were people coming in and out all night into the early morning. There wasn’t as welcoming as an atmosphere as the other hostel but that was to be expected since I have stayed at other St. Christopher’s Inn locations in the past.It’s defiantly a “party” hostel so if you’re looking for some cheap drinks and lots of people, this is the place for you. Food – 30 euros  Breakfast’s were all free thanks to the hostels. I’m going to admit there wasn’t any fresh fruit, eggs or meat which is typically what I go to but hey, it’s free. Another great thing about my first hostel (HelloBCN) was that it had a full sized kitchen where I was able to cook a lot of my meals, other than tapas because that was just part of the experience. My first day I made a trip to the local grocery store to pick up some ingredients for the week. This maybe in total came to 20 euros for the week. I only went out twice for tapas, and since they were only 1 euro each I couldn’t go wrong with the price!

Fun – Priceless 😀IMG_4262

The plan for the first day anywhere that I travel to is always the free walking tour. Typically I end up going with the Sandman’s tours but unfortunately either their wasn’t a tour that day, or my blonde hair decided to come out and I wasn’t in the right location. either way, I found another tour at the same location which also was free! I figured that I didn’t have anything else planned so I went along with the group and ventured throughout the Gothic quarter.10646900_10206378269518803_2454594118272791893_nIMG_4302

It’s actually amazing how useful social media has become. My online nutrition program has facebook groups for our different regions throughout the world and through that I was able to connect with Ves who lives in Barcelona and we planned a meet up while I was here! We originally planned to study but we’re girls, you know how that goes. She took me to a juice bar and I finally had my first real “juice” experience that wasn’t just a smoothie.

 

I was in Barcelona so it’s pretty much obligatory that I enjoyed the famous tapas along with a glass of wine. I met some amazing girls at my hostel and after enjoying a homemade dinner together and a bottle of wine, we made our way down El Barrio street to essentially “tapas hop”. The whole hopping plan didn’t go as planned after finding a really great bar and stuffing ourselves with one euro tapas and 1.50 wine! You seriously couldn’t go wrong.

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Tuesday we met for breakfast, and then ventured outside to tackle the mountain that the receptionist had informed us about. We did the reverse of what you probably should do and walked up the hill and took the gondola down, but it made for a good but workout at least.

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If you have the chance, do the second free walking tour of Gaudi’s architecture throughout the city. I went alone, ended up meeting some really nice people and left with more knowledge than I should have gotten from it being essentially free.

Hands down my favorite part of Barcelona was the food market which was open everyday at 8 am which was perfect when I had nothing else to do and nothing was open yet. There you could find fresh local fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, and there were even a couple restaurants, or better known as tapas bars.

10991164_10206378282479127_1327509309018784340_n The trip ended with a night at Belushi’s with my friend from the states who was also visiting Barcelona at the time! Once again, met more great people, shared stories and enjoyed a bucket of beer. Barcelona, I will be back.