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.

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God blessed you with a voice, now put it to use

How many times have you been in a situation at work where you know that the issue at hand could possible be solved if you had the guts to speak up about what is bothering you?

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Now think about the difference if you were to have a problem in the comfort of your home with your family members. A completely different story right.

Imagine living under the same roof as your boss, eating their food, and caring for their children. It makes for a sticky situation when problems occur. When I first started working for this family I wanted nothing more than to be their employee and the thought of daughter or sibling didn’t once cross my mind.

Reality hit me fast. The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t just working for this family but I was being accepted as a new member of their family. In the beginning it was tough, there’s no doubt about that. Like any new job there’s the fear of your superiors which made it difficult to feel comfortable in their household. As time has passed I have finally found a sense of balance between work and family within my situation because I choose to have a voice. I’m not someone to let problems solves themselves and always take a proactive approach whereas in this case means speaking.

Honesty. 

This is one of the most important things I’ve learned about relationships, healthy ones at least. Telling the truth may seem like sometimes a BAD idea, but it is always the best decision. When I wasn’t happy with the hours they had stated I spoke up and together we were able to find a common ground.

Confidence. 

Fear is normal to feel when we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do tasks that we may not feel 100% confident with. It’s important to keep a sense of confidence in any situation but essential when speaking with someone of higher power. Often the father will make remarks that would be considered “rude” or “offensive” in the Canadian culture but where I’m in France I have to be more open in every aspect.

Find common bonds.

When you’re able to bring a different interest into the workplace it instantly creates a sense of comfort. Once we were able to distinguish that we both enjoy cooking it was something the father and I were able to start talking about whenever the opportunity presented itself. The mother and I regularly will have the typical women chats about life, kids and love which I think is something that every woman needs.

There is now a very open and comfortable relationship between the family and I when it comes to speaking about issues that arise, which is important in theoretically any relationship that I’ve had. The point i’m trying to make is to use the voice that you were blessed with because you never know what may come from it.

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How I know I’m doing the right thing

When talking to people, and i mean literally anyone in general, the majority of them will say their biggest regrets in life had to do with either not travelling or  taking opportunities when they were presented. Let’s just say I didn’t want to have those regrets later on in life where it would be impossible to reverse my decisions.

Currently I’m at a point in my life where:

1. I don’t have kids
2. I’m not married
3. I don’t have a career

For me, it seemed like the perfect time in life to travel and see places I had anyways dreamed of but never had the opportunity to go. Typically travelling abroad for a year isn’t just a decision you make in the course of a second, but for me on the other hand it was pretty instantaneous. I had nothing holding me back.

When I originally told people I was going take a break from “the real world”, whatever that may be, I had a lot of people that doubted my decision to travel for the year. They would say “but you are throwing away your education” or “Why aren’t you going into banking, if that’s what you took”.

First off, my education isn’t going to be magically taken away from me and will still be there when I get back. Second, I’m only 21 years old and I don’t know if that’s even what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

A spontaneous decision like this required me to make sure that it was a smart one before leaving for a year.

Smart meaning

  • I will have enough funds to get me through the year
  • I will want to travel which also requires money
  • I want to pay my student loans off before I leave
  • I’m going to get something out of this year

Of course there was more, but mainly I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable while being in France, and for me having financial security is a huge comfort blanket. Something that has been instilled in me ever since I was a young girl, was to save money for a rainy day; better said by my grandmother who I know is where I get my frugal habits from. I thought that maybe this experience would be that rainy day that I had been waiting for all these years and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t come here without financial means in order to support myself as I knew that it is impossible to live on an Au Pair salary. Okay maybe not impossible, but in order to actually experience Paris and Europe in general to it’s full potential, 90 euros a week wasn’t going to cut up. I mean, this girls gotta eat too somewhere in there and we all know food isn’t cheap.

Before coming here I was surrounded by my peers and often felt a sense of having to do as they were doing; as in follow the path of school-university-career. Once I finally made the spontaneous decision to make a change in my routine life, I saw that there are other paths and options apart from the one we all think is the “normal” or “safe” one. So many of us choose to remain in the same lifestyle for so long for the purpose of what? There’s so much out there in the world just waiting for people to discover.

I also believe that you learn so much while travelling, or at least I know I have already since I’ve been here these short 3 months. I don’t just mean that I have learnt another language either. I’ve had the chance to figure out more about myself than ever before through travelling, meeting people, being immersed in a french lifestyle and discovering independence.

 

What have you learnt while travelling?