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.

When did our lives become so dependent on technology

Life changes; every second, every minute, every day something has evolved.

Faster and more complicated than we might want at times.

Today I sat at a cafe and did what I love best; people watched. Okay, I originally went in because I wanted to get some studying down but became preoccupied by observing my surroundings.

First thing I noticed was the Wi-fi password visible on table.

Apparently, gone are the days when you would find a newspaper waiting to be read.

First things first, coffee. Then out came the technology. Iphone, than Ipad with bluetooth keyboard, headphones, online textbook… you get the picture.

I sat at a table consisting of a couple enjoying their gouter and a single man studying accounting. No i’m not making that part up, being the social butterfly I am I started a conversation. The guy across from me may have been physically alone but with his eyes preoccupied by his phone and tablet.

An hour or so passed and a young couple arrived with cell phones in hand. So far, nothing out of the ordinary in today’s day and age.

They had conversations but not without the occasional glance down at their phones. When the food arrived I watched as the man assembled his coffee and cake so perfectly to snap a photo which I assume was instagrammed within the minutes that followed. Then the woman had to do the same with her phone.

When did a cup of coffee become art?

I’m not going to lie, I’m the worst for this as many of you might know. I’m constantly taking pictures of my food whether it be the at local coffee shop or in my kitchen when I’m making my favorite recipes.

They sat there for 30 minutes, only to be attached to their phones the whole time. Not once were they taken off of the table. This is how we live today. Our everyday lives rely on technology to do daily tasks in a more productive manner, or maybe even to simple just pass the time.

I’m a avid user of technology but after taking the time today to watch how it has become such a reliance in our lives has really made me think about my own consummation. Technology is a huge part of my daily life.

  • I’m enrolled in school which is all done online
  • I’m able to talk to my friends and family from across the ocean instantly
  • Google Maps has become my best friend in Paris, actually anywhere I travel to be honest
  • I’m able to express myself on my blog
  • I have thousands of books accessible on one platform instead of carrying around a physical object.

This is just the beginning of the long list of how I’m consuming technology every day. Come to think about it, my usage starts from the moment I wake up in the morning thanks to the alarm clock on my phone.

Sadly, as time passes we either have the choice to fall behind or keep up with society in terms of how we do our day to day activities. I would love to say that I will consume less, but it’s impossible in my current lifestyle. There’s always going to be things in life that we want to change, but aren’t feasible.

Do you find yourself relying on technology more and more?

It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.

Every day on my way in and out of Paris I pass the many homeless people along the streets and I simply pass them by like the many others do. I bypass them all, as if they don’t exist not because they are any less important, but because I hate the realization that there are people out there living in such hard situations. The sad truth is that they’re are people in need and even if I want to pretend there isn’t, nothing will change unless I make the choice to do something about it.

I’ll admit, there’s been plenty of times when I could have given someone change and I didn’t, and I have no excuses as to why I chose not to.

Today I did something that I haven’t done in a long time; too long to be exact. I chose to make a change.

I woke up this morning without a plan for the day which is an uncommon feeling  for me as I`m a constant planner. I did my daily Facebook check and found a notification for an event that I has been invited to a month or so before, but had completely forgot about. I`m not one to make rash decisions, in fact it usually takes me a day or two to make a final choice but this was different. Within 30 minutes of waking I was on my way to the local grocery store to pick up supplies to make as many sandwiches as I could.

I got some pretty strange stares from the family because to them, the best help you can give is money. Money can do a heck of a lot don`t get me wrong but it almost seems like the easy way out.  Anyone can give a few bucks away but not everyone is willing to give time.

Not even a year ago I would have done things the easy way and donated and not thought twice about it. This is where its truly evident how much this year abroad has changed me as a person.

I showed up to the meeting place which ended up being a Swedish church in the north of Paris. I had no idea what to expect , only that I was giving my  Sunday to helping as much as I possibly could.

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I ended up chatting with a few other giilrls while creating sandwiches with baguettes and cheese. Then I heard an Americana accent so I turned around and said my go to phrase “you’re Canadian or american am I right?”

988474_10206255761856188_8985002146296347539_n Sure enough he was from Portland Oregon! We did our introductions and I found out he was on vacation for two weeks visiting the city, enjoying the couch surfing activities and apparently helping out the locals. I was shocked to say the least, that here was someone on vacation in Paris at that, and donating their free time to wander the streets of Paris for hours giving away as much as we could.

I almost felt guilty questioning why this man was spending his time doing what we all should do. Why is it that being a good citizen has become something so uncommon? I’m not going to lie, I feel amazing after once again stepping outside of my comfort zone but it’s almost pathetic that it’s taken me this long of being in Paris to volunteer my time. 10989125_10206254892794462_5182212868713125330_n (1)

This whole experience today was life changing, to be honest. It opened my eyes to a global crisis that I bypass every single day. It’s impossible to help everyone in need, but even just by donating a couple hours of your week, you can make a small change in someones life.

A quick trip to Bruges & the acceptance of living in the moment

I’m a futuristic person and am always thinking about what next. I can tell you more about what I plan on doing in the summer than in the next five minutes. Lately, my thoughts are constantly drawn to the two words: Five months. The amount of time I have left on this beautiful continent.

There’s so many places I want to see; so many things I want to do, and unfortunately only so much time to do so.

As per usual I’ve brought upon myself unneeded stress over contemplating what I want to do with my remaining time, trying to plan out the best possible path. With that being said I won’t get there if I don’t accept that no matter how much I plan or how much money I save, the future is unpredictable to a certain degree. Planning and organizing is great, I mean it’s gotten me quite far in life so far, but I feel like it’s time to let loose a little, and just live. I don’t want to look back on these next 5 months and regret that I didn’t take opportunities and enjoy my life here.

How many times have you heard your parents say “It seems like it was just yesterday that you were a baby”. 

I never understood why it was such a reoccurring statement until I grew up which what seemed like, in a blink of an eye. Life is short, theres no doubt about it, which is why I need to live for now; not yesterday, not tomorrow but where I am today.

I’m slowly starting to learn and feel comfortable with living in the moment, but I must admit it’s taken longer than I thought. When most people may find things such as TV, sports or video games to fill their free time … I think; often over think.

Last Thursday I saw an event for a trip to Bruges for the low price of 80 euros. At first I bypassed it and kept scrolling down my page. I knew that that 80 euros I could save and use for my summer trip I’ve been planning which seemed quite logical. Then I thought to myself, why wouldn’t I take an opportunity that’s put in front of me? I didn’t have any plans for the weekend and would have sat home and complained of boredom. Secondly I knew I had the funds to do so and the desire.

I proceeded to message Courtney to see if she’d be up for the trip, which honestly I already knew the answer to. 20 minutes later Courtney and I were booked for a weekend trip to Bruges alongside a group of other youth in Paris.

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After our bus trip to Amsterdam we had said that we would never take a bus again but when opportunities present themselves, you take them. The bus was small and cramped but for the price we couldn’t go wrong.

We stopped in Lille for a few hours which didn’t seem to have much to see or really do, but it gave us a chance to stretch our feet. Oh, and to warm up… the heat on the bus seemed to be nonexistent.

The next stop was Ghent which was gorgeous! I can only imagine what it would be like in summer with the canals and cobblestone streets. We met a Irish lad on the bus who ended up spending the rest of the trip with us. I’m not sure if it’s just the Irish people that I have met or not, but they have all been beyond friendly. I can see why my aunt fell in love with one.

We ended our trip in the quant city of Bruges. I had read that it was one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and truth be told it didn’t disappoint. Yes, it was ridiculously cold, but the architecture was gorgeous!

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As far as trying to live in the moment, this life change has been by far what I needed. The past no longer is a worry and I’ve finally accepted that what’s in the past, is just that, in the past and can’t be changed. Slowly I’m seeing that by living in the moment, I’m living life to the fullest. My view on the future is simply an illusion as life hardly ever goes as planned. Of course I have dreams and goals that I wish to attain but I won’t get there unless I live for now and allow life to create it’s own path.

Reasons I love being an au pair; take three

There’s definitely days when i just want to get up and leave, like any job. Last week, it seemed like every struggling day would drag onto the next day and so on. Fortunately yesterday——>

out came the sun, and dried up all the rain

and the itsy bitsy au pair found the end of the pain

I’m lame I know, but honestly it was like I woke up in a new world this morning. The sun was shining, the mother was smiling, the kid wasn’t crying… it seemed almost too good to be true. OH! and it was Wednesday, and if you don’t already know, in France the kids either have half days or no school, which makes it by far the most dreaded day by au pairs everywhere.

I’m going to give credit to the big sun in the sky for making this day a heck of a lot better. It’s crazy what a little vitamin D can do for people.

As many of you know something else that makes me happier than the birds is cooking so I whipped up this yummy breakfast pizza before starting my day.

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Upon picking P up from school yesterday I was instantly shocked by how talkative she was. Once again, BLESS YOU SUNSHINE.

This girl is smart let me tell you. She can whip out facts about literally anything, that will blow your mind. Today I was told that women will live longer than men because apparently they are healthier. This somehow leaded to her correcting my pronunciation of words that I consistently have trouble with. I was becoming frustrated, as always, because at 21 years old I have trouble communicating with a 6 year old. Unlike how she normally reacts when I’m wrong by saying “I don’t understand” or completely ignoring me, she corrected my sentence. I must admit it felt a little odd but I enjoyed her being my little teacher.

There was something that she said that really stuck with me at the end of our conversation; a life lesson in fact. “You know you don’t have to be perfect at something the first time, and it’s okay to admit that you are having trouble. You just have to keep trying and you’ll succeed”. Following this I got a hug but it didn’t feel like any forced hug that I had received in the past weeks. It was a genuine sisterly hug which I graciously returned back with a bisous of course.

Oh and might I point out how obsessed I am with this families toilet paper. It truly is the little things in life that bring us joy.
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We often take for granted the things that most deserve our gratitude

We as humans complain, its natural.

Au pairs, myself included complain a lot. Once again natural, especially in our circumstances. It could be the smallest thing but yet we still have to let the world know that it’s bothering us. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather bringing me down but lately I’ve noticed a higher level of negativity towards not only my job but life in general. When I sit down and actually lay out exactly what I do have in my life, not only physically but emotionally as well, i’m beyond blessed.

I’ve decided to create a list of the things I take for granted to really show how fortunate I am to be in the situation I am in currently.

1. I have a safe roof over my head which I actually look forward to coming home to.

2. There is always more than enough food to eat and a variety at that.

3. A job that may not be what I want to be doing for the rest of my life but for now this is what I have chosen.

4. A beyond kind and caring host family. I may be 21 but it’s still nice to come home to a family that considers you their daughter and treats you as one of their own.

5. I get paid always on time or in advance which is something that the majority of my fellow Au pairs are having issues with.

6. I wake up in the morning and I’m alive and breathing.

7. Technology. t’s crazy how much I rely on it for the majority of the things I do throughout the day. I can call my family in Canada in the matter of a minute, or message my friends with a few swipes of my finger.

8. I have an abundance of clothes to wear and to keep myself warm. If you’re friends with me you’ll constantly hear me complain that I have too many clothes and I’m not going to be able to take them all back with me to Canada or I will have to take another suitcase. I’ve decided that the clothes that I don’t absolutely need I will donate before I leave instead of creating more stress than I need.

9. I’m not cheap, I’m just frugal. I’m fortunate that this was something that I acquired from my grandmother Cress, who can make a dollar last longer than anyone I know.

10. I have a voice. If you know me well enough I’m not the type that let’s things pass me by and always speak up when I am not happy with something. I know for a fact that my other grandmother Chute gave me this attribute and couldn’t be prouder.

Hearing the stories of my friends and their current situations within their families really makes me appreciate what I have. I’ll admit, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t want to pack my bags and head home but what I’ve learned in the past is that running away from a problem never solves anything. I’m fortunate enough to have a close enough bond with my family here where we can openly discuss issues that come about no matter what problems arise. I’ve come to the conclusion that living a life of perfect happiness may be acquirable but unrealistic, for me anyways.

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I’m in France, essentially living the dream and how many people can say they’ve done that?

The power of friendship & a trip to Versailles

I’m going to be honest and admit that these past couple of months abroad have been tough. The cold temperatures make it hard to find the motivation to even just step outside, let alone do anything. When you’re an Au pair your “free” time consists of during the day when your child is in school and then at night when the parents arrive home from work. Let’s just say there hasn’t been a night during the week I have left since before Christmas. I swear it must be the cold that makes me just want to relax every night with a hot tea and a good book.

Flashback to September and I was finding any excuse possible to leave the house. Having a schedule where your free time is limited to a block of hours a day has been extremely tough to find time to see my friends. We’re all in different french classes, love in towns on the complete opposite side of Paris and end up babysitting on different nights. Of course with technology in today’s age we’re constantly communicating but it’s still not the same as physically being together and spending time together.

This past Sunday all of  my three best friends here in Paris finally found a day where we all were free. It only took a month but better late than never! We all were coming from different directions so we decided on meeting at the entrance but I got lucky and found Katie on my walk from the train to the castle of Versailles!

Katie and I started our tour around the castle with our free audio guides might I add. Thank goodness for them because I learned A LOT, and I mean a lot. When it comes to learning about history typically the information goes over my head but this was short, sweet and fairly interesting.

Courtney and Julie met us in the hall of mirrors until deciding that we all really just wanted food; priorities. 

The day started off beautiful only to turn to rain at the exact time we were heading out to the gardens. Just our luck, but it didn’t stop us from attempting to see as much as we could.

We ended the tour with a trip the gift shop for the essential postcards! I’ve sent one home from each new city that I have gone to so far so i’ll be able to see what I’ve seen and done when I get home. Versailles is new city number 3 of the year I’d like to point out, which means another goal crossed off the list for this year! I’m also 1/3 through my first french novel which is another thing I want to accomplish before the year is up!

Without struggle there is no progress.

Not only is it the phrase that gave me strength to be the woman I am today but it will be on me until the day I die.IMG_1017

We often reflect on the hard times in the past and see them as negative, which is the obvious response when we experience things we’re not particularly happy or fond of. What about if those experiences shaped who we are today and are the reason for the current lifestyle we live. I know that would change my thoughts on my past completely.
Would I be living this life in Paris today if I hadn’t of gone through what I have in the past few years of my life? Probably not, actually no there’s no probably about it.

I’m here in this city because of those times but now I no longer see them as being bad or unfortunate for happening. At the time yes, when things wouldn’t go as planned and life seemed to change directions every single day, I felt a sense of failure almost. Failure in the sense that I didn’t know what was next; unprepared even.

I’m 21.

I’m not perfect.

I’ll never be perfect,

but i’m me.

I need to continue to remind myself this each and everyday. Being a perfectionist I always feared doing the wrong, but what truly defines the wrong when you are the only one who can decide where your life goes. I definitely am not eager to come across failures in my life but I do believe that with every negative comes an ever larger positive. Of course as anything it all takes time. Did I wake up the next morning after deciding that I needed a fresh start and know exactly what I wanted to do? Nope, but sooner than I thought life worked it’s way out and lead me here.

As my mother tried to instill into me when I was young girl, and still to this day reminds me of, “life is not perfect”. Of course I took the hard way and didn’t listen but I learnt from it and I truly believe that much stronger from the struggles I’ve faced. As much as we want our plans in life to pan out the way we foresee them, sometimes obstacles may open more opportunities that wouldn’t have had.

Should I stay or should i go now?

I think that I think too much.. No, I know that I thin too much. I’ve always had a difficult time making decisions especially with ones that are life impacting. I stress as many do, but gosh does it ever feel overwhelming at times. I wonder if i’ve made the best choice with coming here, or if maybe I had of stayed what the outcome would have been. Would I have a successful career or maybe a new car? Would I still be living at home or maybe my own apartment?

I dwell and I know I shouldn’t because it solves nothing, absolutely nothing. I made my choice and this is what I need to stick with. No matter what I may have been able to do in the past 5 months without travelling abroad I’m more than pleased with what I have done but more what I have learnt about myself.

When will i know when I’ve discovered all there is for me here abroad? and then Where do I go from here?

I swear if you were able to be in my brain to see how often it’s contemplating or questioning decisions you would be tired, no exhausted. I’m a worrywart what can I say, I have a little piece of my grandmother Cress in me which i’m more proud of than anything.

There’s part of me that wants to run home but what will that do? Life will essentially fall back into place as it was before which is not as comforting as you might think , but yet frightening. This me that I’ve found here is someone that I don’t want to lose. I’m adventurous, carefree, less ridged, heck I finally have patience for children again. I can’t pin point why I wasn’t able to find myself in Nova Scotia but it took me a trip across the ocean into a new life in order to break out of my shell. The fact that I am still not 100 percent confident that I have pursued and found what I came here for leads me to believe that my time here is far from over.

Who’s to say if this new found me is here to stay or maybe it’s just the beginning to finding even more about myself and transitioning into someone I enjoy even more. The unknown thought is scary, frightening and leaves me uneasy but this is life. Life is not perfect, nor planned.

There are days when all I want is to go home and leave this life I’m living here. Then there are times when I want this life forever, which I do realize is impossible and unrealistic.

Something I have discovered is that dreams don’t have to be realistic but goals do.

My goal when moving abroad was simply to experience a different way of life before settling into my own. So far after five months I’ve acquired much more than that, leading me to believe that there is more to come with time. What will another season in Europe bring me?

Give me six months and I’ll let you know