The Power of Friendship Abroad

The best days always end up being the times when we have no set plans, no time limit and no care in the world, am i right?

Today was one of those days.

In fact, it seems that every time I meet up with Julie (my beautiful Danish friend for all of you who aren’t aware) we end up discovering something new and exciting, or at the very least enjoy the time we spend together.

I traveled abroad alone; was I scared?

To be honest not really.. Which really assured me that I was making the right choice in making the big leap across the ocean. I mean of course the fear of jumping on a plane alone and coming to a foreign country to live with a family who I didn’t have a clue would even be at the airport to pick me up is normal…. Instead of allowing that fear to change my outlook on the adventure I chose to be optimistic and to trust that everything would work out.

and you know what, it did.  

8 months ago, after only being in Paris for a week, I wrote on the “Au pair in Paris” Facebook group looking for someone to explore the city with, so I wouldn’t be alone. I received a reply from a Danish girl, and we decided to meet up on Pont de Alexandre III, which is probably one of the prettiest in Paris I must say.

Truth be told that day must have ended pretty well because here we are 8 months later and she’s become my best friend.

Did we know what we we doing today?

Nope.

Did we have a great day?

Probably one of the best since I’ve been here.

Julie and I are the queens of wandering aimlessly around Paris and finding the most interesting things to do. We came across a chocolate museum so we paid the hefty 8.50 to get in and come to find out, even for to see how chocolate was made. Better yet, there were samples, which let’s be honest, would make any girl happy.

The beans were used as currency and 10 would buy you a rabbit!  

Mustache cup!  

Selfies were needed      

 we were in need of coffee which didn’t actually happen for another two hours after as we made our way towards the seine. Oh! We even found a street with prostitutes in broad daylight. Don’t think we’ll be going back down that street anytime soon.

We grabbed some peanut butter danish bread and coffee and made our way to the Tuileries Gardens for some much needed relaxation, sun tanning, and some much needed girl talk. I mean we’re girls would you expect anything else?

Our day ended at the very same bridge that we met for the first time 8 months ago.

Little did I know the great friendships that would come from choosing to come to Paris. Honestly I had no expectations on what this year would bring but what I’ve been able to experience and take in already has been beyond anything that money could ever buy.

One thing that I’ve realized is that when you’re more flexible and allow life to work itself out for itself, incredible things happen.

I’ve evolved.

I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

My smile is once again real.

Advertisements

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

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!

three months down, seven to go

So I have officially been in France now for 3 months, that’s a whole 90 something days. I know that everyone always says that time passes faster than we think, and I can fully understand why that would be. Comfort wise I feel like it’s been a lot longer since i have been living this life I am now, but psychologically it feels like it was just yesterday that I was home waiting tables at my family restaurant.

A lot has changed in these 3 months and I’ve learned a lot about who I am as a person, but also a lot about how the Parisians live on a daily basis. I know that i’ve changed, i mean how would if have been possible for me not to. I feel as if it has been for the better, as I see these travel and experiences have made me more independent, more appreciative and a heck of a lot happier in general. Even though I “thought” I was 100% happy being at home in my daily life, i only felt that way because I had yet to experience anything better.

I though that I would lay out some of the current thoughts that are going through my head as I enter my fourth month abroad in Paris.

1. I came here absolutely hating red wine, and now I prefer it over my beloved white. Sorry white wine lovers but there’s just something about a rich bodied red. It could be the difference of how I consume it considering now I see wine as not just another alcohol but an addition to a meal.

2. I have become picky when it comes to baguettes. Not every bakery makes a good fluffy stick of bread let me tell you. If you’re in the city and want to try a good one check out the chain Paul, its cheap and always fresh!

3. I miss my cheap coffees from Tim Hortons. They try here , but they just aren’t the same. Thankfully I’m a lucky girl and got a cup while in New York.

4. Cheese is SO much better here. I hated cheese before I came here and now I can’t stop eating it, especially Comte. I am also becoming an expert of cheese thanks to my knowledgeable 6 year old teacher. Comte is by far the best cheese I’ve had and placed between a fresh baguette is to die for!

5. I’ve found a love for children again. Before coming here I was set on never having children and my tolerance was little to none. so you’re probably thinking why i chose this job then right, well I think that what I’ve already gotten from it is enough reason.

6. My french has gotten immensely better over these past three months and my confidence of having conversations has risen beyond belief. The other night I was actually the translator between a Parisian and an English speaking Australian which was pretty confidence boosting I must say.

7. I have given up on curling, straightening or styling my hair during the weekdays. The Parisians just seem to let their hair go natural, so why wouldn’t i create less work for myself. That and the fact that I also blew my curling iron with their outlet, oops.

8. My relationship with my host family is amazing (knock on wood) and I really enjoy spending time with them as they consider me a daughter figure in their family. It seems as if there is always a need for wine or champagne at the dinner table which I have no complaints with.

9. I miss my kitchen terribly. I’m more frustrated here not being able to bake as much as I used to, mainly because I don’t have access to the ingredients and time in the kitchen as I’m so busy.

10. I need to invest in a pair of rain boots because my umbrella just isn’t cutting it. Oh, and might I mention that this is my second umbrella because my first one broke in the whole “getting pushed by a beggar on the street” incident my first month here.

So after spending three months abroad I’ve definitely had the opportunity to learn lots and experience quite a number of things. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I have yet to visit a museum here in Paris, but mainly it’s because I have been waiting until the temperature is too cold to be outside.

Joe Allens Paris

You always hear the saying its a small world but when it actually happens to you and you realize how small it really is, it’s actually a pretty cool feeling. Before leaving Nova Scotia I had been informed that a family friend had a cousin who worked at a restaurant in paris which I guess was pretty cool considering its across the ocean right!

Fast forward to October. I finally got the cell phone number to the cousin who apparently is the owner of the franchise; pretty cool! I looked up the location on Google maps ( oh how I love this app) and found that it was actually pretty close to where I had already explored in Paris but had never actually passed the area. I had a couple free hours with no specific plans so I met with my friend to check out the restaurant and to met this cousin!

Turns out it’s an American style restaurant (score!) and the owner was extremely friendly! You could defiantly tell he as a Canadian! We had a also let chat and he gave us some history on the Halles in the 1970s and how it used to be a huge market which fed the majority of paris. I actually love learning about the history of paris.. It’s more interesting than you may think.IMG_5522.JPG

The venue itself reminds me of an Irish pub In a way. It has tables outside but on the inside there’s a bar and of course more tables.

Oh fun fact about this restaurant! They actually give ice to their customers when they give them water! Being french they also give a bread basket and butter with meals which is essential I’ve found out. Might i point out the bread is fresh, warm and made in their restaurant!

I ordered the spinach salad which ended up being massive so I would suggest going with the small size which is actually only 10 euros! Not a bad deal for a great meal and service. Also I must say the avocados were a delicious addition to the typical spinach, bacon and mushroom salad!IMG_5523.JPG

We discovered their Happy hour is from 16-20hr and they have Malibu so we will be making a trip back one evening.

Apparently they even host a thanksgiving dinner around the end of November for americans and have people reserve places from all over Europe to come enjoy their Turkey dinner. It costs 45 euros for the completely dinner but I think it would be worth it, especially if you were an american expat in Paris!

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting a good fresh meal and I hear this is the place to go for a good american burger! Check it out at 30 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris, France

IMG_5520.JPG

Getting over the awkward first weeks i

With any new job or experience the beginning is never easy even though we typically expect things to be perfect. I can honestly say that during the first two and a half weeks with my shot family here in paris I thought that I had made a horrible decision with my choice and was even looking at new families in the area requiring an au pair. I felt such a tension between their daughter and me because he didn’t want to open up to me or try and become friends. I don’t know why I expected her to just instantly love me upon arriving, I mean looking back I don’t really blame the kid! I’m a stranger coming into her life expected to replace the same nanny that she had for the whole 6 years of her life. The daughter also doesn’t speak english which I was told she knew enough to have a conversation with so there is a lot of frustration that goes on when we try to talk to one another. As any kid, she tries to take the most difficult possible path of doing things, so instead of trying to understand my broken french, she just pays no attention and says she doesn’t understand.

I also felt very constrained in their house and was treated like their own daughter. The parents were very protective which I really thought at tthe time was overwhelming and unnecessary but looking back, they are responsible for me and I am also responsible for their daughter. I took their abundance of love as a sign of annoyance when really i should be appreciative to be in such a loving family. Yes, I must say I still feel uncomfortable at times especially when i’m not technically working but still in their house; its hard to determine a work-life balance when living with your employer. I find that I’m constantly wanting to help clean or play with the girl but then again, if I were at my own home in Canada I would be doing the same. As the weeks have progressed I have changed my outlook on the reason why i’m here. My first couple of weeks I was so focused on going to Paris and making sure I went out with all of the other au pairs in order to meet people. I can honestly say that I think I’m done with drinking my ass off every weekend and feeling like garbage the next day. I also used to spend my weekends in paris, even if I was alone because I didn’t want to be home with the family because I was convinced it was awkward. Lesson learned: It’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Once I got past the fact that hey! It’s okay to come downstairs on Sunday at lunch with a hangover and they aren’t’ going to judge me, then it’s been a completely difference atmosphere and lifestyle in general.

I’ve realized that the main reason i’m here is not to go party and hang out with my friends every single chance I get, but I’m an au pair and like any job I have responsibilities. That’s not to say that I will not continue to spend my own time with my friends and doing the things I enjoy, but I need to find a balance.

I just kept thinking every night before I shut my eyes at night; give them a chance… So that’s jsut what I did. I waited and played things out

You only turn 21 once in paris

Imagine waking up in the city of love on your 21 birthday, walking downstairs to hear your host family singing happy birthday to you, making canadian pancakes with maple syrup and surprising you with a cashmere sweater.

wait, and this is all before 9am. I figured the day couldn’t get any better, boy was i ever wrong.

After our saturday morning ritual of going to the market and library as a family we set off for Paris to out for my birthday lunch which was chosen by my lovely host sister. She’s obsessed with Fontain de mars but I was pretty hesitant of the restaurant because i’m pretty picky when it comes to food, and just go for the typical easy choices and this place was hands down a classic french place. Apparently Barrack Obama ate there, so now it’s known by the tourists.

IMG_0373.JPG

IMG_0374.JPG

So its not even 2pm and i’m already feeling quite intoxicated but hey, when in paris right?

I walked for an hour, and when i say walked I really mean trekked it like a madwoman because I didn’t want to be late to meet mon copain. I hadn’t heard from him so I really had no idea if he was going to stand me up or be there at all but I figured i’d give him the benefit of the doubt. So, he was 30 minutes late, which really didn’t matter at all, just the fact that it was less time spent with him on his last night in Paris.

We ended up walking along the seine trying to find pet stores so we could pet the cute animals but I guess they moved the stores? My american tour guide seemed to a wee bit too much confidence on his directions. Oh, but wait who needs to pet dogs when you can have birds land on you!

The time came to meet my friends for my “birthday surprise!” I had literally no clue what they were planning just that I had to meet them at 5 by the Louvre. There in the middle of the park were my friends with 3 bottles of wine, picnic snacks and a Laurderee cake! I don’t know about you, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE picnics, especially at this park! I also waited until then to open my cards and presents form my family back home and was pleasantly surprised with 2 new pandora charms.

IMG_0377.JPG

IMG_0376.JPG

IMG_0372.JPG

Oh and the cake by the way; pistachio… my all time favourite flavour. You can say my friends are pretty awesome. So there I was on an all time high and then I get another unexpected surprise, this gal is going to DISNEYLAND PARIS with her 3 best friends.

After getting drunk for the second time before 6 pm we made a little pit stop to get changed and refreshen we’ll say before heading to Belushis for pre drinks. A couple rounds of ride the bus and rum and pineapples and we were on the road. Now this is where I start to lose recollection of what happened next, but you only turn 21 in Paris once right so you might as well do it right.

Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend your birthday. Friends, wine, laughter and lots of kisses.

What’s better than spending the day and night with someone who makes you feel like your the only girl in the world that matters? I never thought it would be possible to have that feeling, and even though it’s been taken away I believe i’ll find it again. Who knows, maybe in japan.

How did you celebrate your 21st?

The absolute best way to have a good time and meet new people

When I first arrived here in paris I was using the au pair facebook group as a way to connect to with other internationals here, but of course they were all au paris with pretty well the same story of why they were here. I’ve met a lot of amazing au pair friends but I really wanted to get out there and try and meet others who were doing different things in paris so I use the magical search engine google to see what other options were out there. In the past month that I have been here I’ve been Abel to meet so many people and have learned so much about their culture just by talking to them! Here are some of my tips to get yourself out there, and be the social butterfly you want to be!

1. Join meet up groups! I’m on dozens of Facebook groups as well as a member on meetup.com and have gone to so many event already in my month that I have been here!

2. Get a couple drinks into you; I find that alcohol brings my confidence up to a whole new level. I find I am able to speak french 100 times better when I’ve had something to drink which obviously has to do with my confidence being so low when I’m sober.

3. Take a friend along with you if you’re too scared to go alone!

4. Be a social butterfly and don’t judge a book by its cover; literally. The nicest people may be someone you would never think by just looking at them!

5. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals where the best places are! You’ll be able to practice your french and typically you’ll know exactly there the hot spots are in town!

My past two weekends have consisted of attending international parties at a youth hostel in the north end of paris. St Christopher’s inn is attached to one of our a favourite bars in the area; belushis so it’s the best of both worlds in one place! They even have beer pong on occasion which is something that I defiantly miss about being home in canada! The only negative thing I have about this place is the location from everything else in paris. It takes me a good hour to get home and that’s when they trains and metro are running. If I wait to take the night train (which is not so easy as it may sound) it takes at least 2 hours because they only come and go so often.

If you’re anything like me and enjoy a good selection of cheap happy hour drinks and love music then belushis is the place to be! So far the two times that I have gone, I’ve played beer pong, had unlimited shots, and met amazing people from all over the globe travelling in paris. The hostel also puts on international parties quite frequently for any internationals in the area plus the people staying in the hostel so it’s quite the random collection of people that you will find.

IMG_5030.JPG

IMG_5038.JPG

IMG_5027.JPG

IMG_5033.JPG