Italy take 3; Venice 

The train from Florence to Venice was only two hours and honestly it felt like maybe 30 minutes. I was in second class this time but I got lucky and had an empty seat beside me.

My French mother met me right at the station and since it was raining we took water taxi back to the apartment and caught up on what we had both done in the past few days.

11200769_10206891983761338_5570438201610997984_n

I honestly don’t know if I had ever been so happy to see ma petite fille. Our relationship has gotten so strong and being away from her for only 4 days felt like a long time.. Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to our final goodbyes this summer, well at least until she coma to Canada to visit.

jhbk

She likes to take my things, reminds me of my own sister! 

11209652_10206891987001419_8079898567406824_n

So far into the trip it was clear that:

  • Dogs are everywhere, and not just the little ones that are everywhere in Paris.
  • There are no cars, at all inside the city of Venice.
  • Gelato is cheaper than in Florence. 1.50 for a ball, I think I can do that.

I wandered around the whole morning but then My knee started to hurt extremely bad and I knew that 5 hours of walking wasn’t the best for it so I took the water taxi back to the apartment near the arsenal to rest… And to dry out my purse or attempt to.
Upon arriving back I made myself a coffee with their Italian press and put my feet up for a couple hours. Sadly my passport now resembles a wet tissue and my battery charger is powerless, but surprisingly i kept positive and moved on with it.
I think I stayed for approximately an hour and a half before I got bored and had to get out and see more of Venice. We ate in at the apartment for supper but I had no complainants about that.

Nothing beats fresh pizza ordered next door and spritz.

Spritz is not sprite for my North American followers. It’s the typical Italian mixed alcohol drink comprised of sparkling wine and a bitter tasting alcohol such as Aperol.

Day 3 – Murano

After a sleepless night for all four of us because of endless Mosquitos we started the day a bit later but like always, lots of coffee. We took the water taxi to the small but beautiful island of Milano. Mutant is the island of glass blowing which I was unaware of until coming here. We are at a restaurant apparently for “fishermen” or resembles a seafood restaurant. There weren’t any fish and chips so I can’t say it compared to what I consider a seafood restaurant that’s for sure.

11014915_10206891999681736_2044625168325510305_n After some gelato, and a necklace purchase we made our way back to Venice and we parted our ways. I wandered for the rest of evening which is my favorite thing to do no matter what city I’m in.

11209393_10206891984641360_4414290232568063632_n
I’m truly amazed at how beautiful this city really is. Maybe it’s the similarities to home, being so close to the ocean, but it could possibly be my favorite that I have visited so far in Europe.
I’ve been waking up at 7 in order to make sure I get to go for a morning cappuccino with Perrine and my french dad. One morning we went to by far the coolest Cafe I’ve been to and was run by the kindest Venison I had met yet.

14683_10206892001441780_5303843137488154015_n

After picking out three different grains of coffee we asked where we could find a good espresso thinking he would recommend a typical cafe close by but nope. He invited us into the back woke shop where they turn the coffee beans and offered us each a cappuccino along with focaccia!
11061227_10206892001801789_626544666271423177_n

The week passed by faster than I might have wanted, especially after finding my love for the city of Venice but I was ready to get back to some sort of routine.

Advertisements

Reflecting on Goals

How many people set goals or resolutions for the year and never go back to reflect on them to make sure you’re staying on track? 

Yep, I can say that typically that’s me.

BUT,

I figured there’s no better time than now to change that fact and see exactly where I am with what I plan to accomplish this year and maybe even add more onto the list! 

1. Start and finish a french novel. 

This was the first thing that I completed and surprisingly understood the basis of the story! Now I have moved onto trying to watch french tv series to keep up with the french!

2. Travel to at least 3 new cities

Done and well over 3. I ended up getting stuck in Montreal for a couple days on my way here so that was the first city I was able to see! One weekend I made the spontaneously decision to travel to Ghent, Bruges and Lille adding 3 more new places. I spent a week in Barcelona in February and just got back from Florence, Milan and Venice! 

3. Gain 10 pounds. 

How about 14! I couldn’t be more proud of myself for this accomplishment!

4. Read More.

This I actually didn’t expect to have read as much as I have but gosh, It seems like I’m flying through them lately. 

5. Pay off my student loans. 

Currently I have paid off my current school that I’m enrolled in, but those good old Canadian loans are still hanging around.

6. Take a cooking class in Paris. 

7. Enroll in the Integrative Nutrition Course. 

8. Actually start doing yoga or at least gain more knowledge on the sport. 

I was doing really good with doing yoga on a regular basis in the beginning of the year but since my knee injury I have taken a bit of time off.

9. Attend a language exchange meet up in Paris.

I only went once, but hey I still did it!

10. Go to bed before 11 every night. 

This NEEDS to become a priority. I know what I need to do, but the self control is not happening.

So after a short 4 months I must say, I’m more than impressed with what I have been able to cross off that list and makes me excited for what is yet to come!

Italy , take one : Milan 

This was my first time flying with easy jet and to be honest I didn’t even check before I bought the flight what company i would be flying with.

Note to self: don’t show up at the airport without a clue who you’re flying with.

My trip didn’t start out the best which seems to be the way the majority of my trips have been going. Upon checking in at the baggage drop I was told I didn’t have a seat on the plane even though I had booked my flight two months prior.

you must check in online in order to insure you have a seat. Oops silly me.

I was put on the stand by list and had to wait until everyone else was on board in hopes there would be someone that didn’t Tahoe up. Thankfully I was lucky and got the last seat!

I noted a couple things that were instantly different abroad this flight then the rest I was on:

  • Cabin crew didn’t check seat belts
  • Completely in English
  • The safety demonstration was only said over the announcements

Having no wifi and this being my first time at this airport I was a bit nervous on how to find the bus but it ended up being as easy as walking out the exit and finding the big sign with the “bus to Milan central station”.. And the fee of 16 euros for a return trip. This was by far the easiest transport to city I’ve ever experienced but more expensive.

When I first was looking at coming to Milan I checked hostels to see the price and availability and didn’t come a crossed a lot to be honest. Instead of paying for a very expensive and crappy hostel I  put on my big girl panties and decided to couchsurf for the first time. I found my way to my hosts house with only the directions she had given me , and no gps signal. Let’s just say I was pretty proud of myself.

I was instantly Greeted by my host along with green tea and Belgium chocolate. You can’t go wrong with that

After chatting for a bit I decided to wander around why she finished some studying.

Later when I returned she took me out for a typical a Italian aperitif with her friends.

Apertivo is probably my favorite thing about Italy. Essentially it’s a happy hour where you buy any drink at the price of 7-10 euros on average and you get an all you can eat buffet along side it. There was pasta, pizza, meats, cheese, bread, chips, chicken wings, fruit and dessert! I will say that waiting 1 1/2 hours to be seated was a bit of a pain, especially when you’re starving.

The next morning I awoke to a table full of biscuits, bread, cereal, and hot coffee waiting for me. I can’t explain how grateful I was to have come across such a great host. Her and her friend even made a list of things I needed to see before I left and showed me the exact way to get there which was much appreciated.

After saying goodbye I made my way back to the center of Milan to check out what I had missed the day before.

It wasn’t the best day weather wise and with the tendinitis in my knee acting up I made a couple coffee breaks along the way, which allowed me to rest and grab some free wifi.

I was extremely early for my train but if you know me well enough that’s typical for me, after growing up with a mother that was always, and really emphasize ALWAYS late. Now looking back, maybe it was a good thing because it’s made me more aware of my own time.

20 minutes before the train was set to leave we were told the platform number and I followed the pack to my car. I paid the extra to be business class first class to get a free coffee… What can I say, priorities.

  

 

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.

10001516_10206255946140795_2849999178429994573_n (1)

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.

10947381_427251840781567_387867347295517160_o

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!

10980740_10206197017507616_6909094434997990664_n 1013649_10206197017347612_549016090149895800_n (1) 1450857_10206197016987603_3698377082950998641_n (1)

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.

IMG_3444

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.
IMG_3133

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

You decide your own destiny

People are going to talk, no matter what you do in life so please, don’t allow comments to dictate your life. What I’ve learned is that it’s your life, not theirs. Truth be told it took my 20 years to figure this out, but I`m finally at a point where I`m confident in myself enough to trust my choices in life.

In the past I always had a figure that I followed for everything I did in life but this time was different. I needed a fresh start, a new beginning and an adventure of a lifetime.

A common response I heard from people when they heard of my decision to be an Au Pair was “You’re just going to throw away your education?” I’m not quite sure how to exactly throw away my education considering my diploma isn’t going anywhere nor is everything that I learned throughout my years in school. There’s nothing saying that I can’t go back into that career field later on in life but for now, this is what I want.

Before I moved abroad I had many people that made comments on my ability to follow through with this. Fast forward to today, those same people have approached me a second time, but instead with a more encouraging outlook as they’ve been able to see how positive this experience has been for me. For 21 years I was always given a choice but a guided one with support in how to get there. Making the decision to change my life completely like I did was all made by me. Did I know what I was doing? Nope, but that’s why I’m here to learn more about myself and what I actually do want to pursue in the future. Maybe I`ll end up wanting to be a nurse or an entrepreneur when i`m done here or maybe I still won`t have a clear idea by the end of this journey. Finally I am able to accept that it`s okay not to know exactly how my life is going to plan out tomorrow, the next day or even the next year.

You’re only young once so use the opportunity before you have reasons not to.

Travel allows you to step out of your comfort zone

How many of you wake up each day having a pretty good idea of what the day will entail. The food you will eat, the people you will see, the breaks you will take. This is what is called our comfort zone.

Many of us go through life never stepping outside of that bubble, that we’ve become so accustomed to simply, because we are unaware that there’s more out there to explore.

Image found on Reallifecoaching.net

Photo: for a state of happiness

Upon graduating high school I thought I had my whole life planned out, which turns out wasn’t what my life had in store at all. I acquired a daily routine upon starting college which continued even when I began working. My life was far from bad in any regard; I had an education, an apartment and a job; but was I truly happy?

Maybe, maybe not. The only way to find out was the explore my other options, and essentially starting fresh.

What better way to commence a new beginning than across the ocean in a completely different continent. I bought a one way ticket to Paris and became a part of a new family, fully immersed in the french language and culture. If any of you know me well enough you are aware that I come from a very athletic family. In fact, all six of us are still to this day involved in playing a variety of sports. Okay, maybe I’m lacking on my athleticism here in France but i’m just doing as the Parisians do and fully immersing myself. The word sport in this new household meant a 10 minute walk to school and back which to each their own but it was a rude awakening for me. They are by no means lazy but their activities are just different than what I’m used to and involve playing music, chess, and painting.

Art has never been a huge part of my life. Growing up it was always sports no matter what I did. Since being here in Paris I’ve noticed that art is a huge part of their culture whether it be in the form of physical artwork, architecture or dance.

My host family purchased a years worth of tickets for shows ranging from theater, dance and story telling. You know when you receive a gift that you really hate but want to be kind so you put on the most appreciative face you can? That’s exactly how it felt when they presented me with the bundle of “gifts”.

This is too good

My expectations were very low considering my interest in art has never never very high. Last weekend I experienced my third show and I must say this whole artsy lifestyle is really growing on me. I’m not going to ever be able to give up my love for fitness or sports but there’s non limit to how many interests you have.

How many times have been completely against something despite the fact that you have never tried to essentially like it?
We often have negative opinion on certain things in life, simply because we’ve never been exposed to them. I grew up in a family surrounded by sports. My parents were involved in them growing up and passed not only their athletic ability to their children but the love for the game. Art was never frowned upon in our household but it also was never emphasized as being important.

Travelling has exposed me to a whole new lifestyle that I wouldn’t have seen if I had of just stayed in the comfort zone I was living in. Stepping outside of what we know and what we’re comfortable in isn’t easy nor is it always wanted.