A year in Paris: what I gained and what I lost

I let go of routine, I gained flexibility

I lost self-control and I gained life.

The year started off rough I guess you could say. I had a difficult time creating a relationship with my girl who I was here to look after for the next 11 months.

There were times where I thought that I had made a huge mistake with not only choosing this particular family but coming abroad in the first place.

I had to constantly remind myself of why I had chosen this path for my life; which was to experience another culture and travel Europe before settling into a life long career. I wasn’t going to allow myself to look back on my life with regrets.

I bought a one way ticket to Paris in hopes to be immersed in a foreign culture that I had always longed of being a part of. Little did I realize how much more that would come from this year.

My first real french Macarons from Pierre Herme

Saw Notre Dame

Went on vacation with my host family to a zoo resort AND saw a real panda.

visited Sacre Coeur

Went to an au pair picnic with over 200 fellow ladies

Met my beautiful Danish best friend

Went to the Love Wall

Had Chipotle for the first time!

Had the BEST 21st Birthday I could have ever imagined

Went to DisneyLand Paris

Saw Paris at night by Boat

Met 3 amazing girls who have become my best friends

Visited Galeries Lafayette at XMAS (yes that’s an upside down massive tree!)

Learned how to play French Beer Pong

Got my make up done by this chick

Enrolled in Nutrition school which ended up changing my life

Visited Fontainebleu

and Versailles

Had my first easter hunt with real chocolate and not plastic eggs!

Helped the homeless by making sandwiches and delivering them around Paris

Celebrated Saint Patricks the right way

Took a macaron class

Learnt the real way to make Clafloutis

Put a lock on the love bridge and said our goodbyes

Said “See you Later” to my little sister

 

Said goodbye to the Eiffel Tower one last time

On top of everything I got to do in France I also traveled to 8 other countries throughout the year. Every 8 weeks in France the kids get a two week holiday which meant I had one week of freedom to do as I please. There wasn’t even a question of what I would be doing with my time; I wanted to see as much and do as many things as I could while abroad, and that’s exactly what I did.

October

Rome

Brussels

Amsterdam

November & December

New York

London

Mexico

Nova Scotia

I surprised my mother without her finding out!

 February

Barcelona

Bruges

Ghent

April

Milan

 

Florence

Venice

May

Valencia

June

Nice

 

Berlin

August: Whitehorse

Out of everything that I saw, every person I met, and every experience I had the opportunity of taking there’s one thing that I will always remember about this trip.

2015 was the year I found happiness

This was the missing piece that I had been trying to find but was never successful at finding until I let go of everything in my life that was bringing those unpleasant feelings.

When I realized that there’s so much more to life out there, everything started falling in place and most importantly my health flourished. As hard it is for me to see myself at such a low point in my life, I’m proud of how far I’ve come on my own.

Life is a journey that’s waiting to be written and this is my beginning

Advertisements

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.

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.

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

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.

Staying Positive when negativity arises

Everyone’s initial thought when they are told that their flight is cancelled is going to be a let down, disappointment and pure frustration because we’re human, we have emotions. I’ve currently been sitting at this airport for the past 7 hours with no intentions on leaving anytime soon. I’ve been told when my next connection flight will be which is unfortunately over a day later than planned but there’s a good chance that I’ll be spending the night in this airport along with the other frustrated passengers.

Of course this messes everything up with my arrival in Paris as I now will be coming into CDG a whole day later (the day i’m supposed to start work). I guess this means my first day of work is going to consist of a not so good performance from me. Sorry P. More than likely I’m not going to sleep and on top of that there’s the jet lag, but staying positive is the key. Seriously though what will negativity do to this situation?

1. It’s not the ladies fault sitting at the desk that this plane had mechanical issues making me miss my connection.

2. I get to stay longer in an airport with TIm Hortons, boo yeah!

3. I’m creating interesting memories because no one wants to hear about a boring story.

4. The longer i’m around Canadians the better. I’ve met so many people just by sitting here waiting for our flight.

5. There’s a good chance I will be staying all day in Montreal tomorrow in a hotel so once again, a story!

Surprisingly I haven’t been “bored” yet. Now everyone’s description of what that means is obviously going to be different but i’ve been able to find things to keep myself occupied. How long this will last is another question, but until then i’m going to keep the positive vibes flowing. All I can say is thank god for free wi-fi. I’m able to blog, keep in contact with my family and actually have started a few introductory courses of my nutrition program i’m starting in march!

With every unexpected situation you have two choices. You can complain and be negative about the problem or take it as a opportunity to create memories to last a lifetime. Okay, maybe spending 2 days in an airport isn’t quite a memory but it’s defiantly the first time that I have had any issues with travelling.

What do you do when you’re stuck in an airport?

I really am in the city of love

do you ever have moments in your life when you feel like you’re living a dream where you just never want to wake up.

I’m starting to believe that the best things in life really do happen when you least expect them. This past week has been one of the best of my life, and it’s all because of an unexpected occurrence. Let’s just say it started with a night of rain ruining our plans in St. Michel and us spontaneously deciding to travel to the northeast side of paris to Belushi’s for an international party that ended up getting cancelled. There we were three girls sitting at a bar, ordering drinks and preparing for a game of “ride the bus”. Apparently this isn’t an american game because so far I’ve had to teach it to all of my copaines americannes. THis game is NOT fun with 3 people so the social butterfly in me decided to go scope out the other bar hoppers. Obviously there was a guy that stood out, sitting alone with two beers. A couple things crossed my mind.

1. The beer belongs to his girlfriend so I don’t have a chance.
2. This guy can drink his beer.
3. He’s best friend is just upstairs changing his shirt and hes waiting patiently for him. (okay this obviously didn’t cross my mind but it happened to be the truth, thankfully).

After the two guys came to our table, I don’t want to be all cliche and say it was love at first sight.. but damn, there were defiantly some butterflies going on in my stomach and it wasn’t from the vodka either. After discovering that they weren’t models in Japan but really in the military we got notified that the international party downstairs had been cancelled. Already buzzing and ready for a good night out, we suggested Cafe Oz at Chatelet so off to the metro we went.

The best thing about this bar is that it accommodates to different crowds whether you want to sit down and watch sports, pick up babes at the bar, or dance the night away, its the place to be! I’m not sure exactly at what number drink I decided my confidence level was high enough to show this guy my intentions but before we knew it we were hand in hand. The night followed with countless blue pineapples, a name tag with IGOR, a 5 euro bet on a random from their hostel following us there and i’m pretty sure my heart had double in size towards this guy. I don’t even want to call him “this guy” because he’s so much more than that. Yes, I’ve known him now for almost a week but the happiness I get when I see him is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before. The only thing I was unsure of was if the feelings I felt were mutual or if I was just dreaming of something that was out of reach.

Two days later we meet again (thankfully) and that day was the moment I knew that I had found something that I couldn’t let go. Unfortunately as the days pass I know that this feeling of complete happiness will eventually come to an end when the trip is over. I’ve learned to make the most of the time together because those are memories you will have forever and will never be taken away.

Tried Macaroons for first time! I swear, nothing beats a french macaroon.

IMG_5148

Saw the beautiful Sacre-Coeur and finally went inside!

IMG_5241

Yep, we did this and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. C’est la vie d’amour.

IMG_5183

IMG_5186

First time EVER having someone dedicate and sing to me, in front of a crowd at that. Honestly, how did I get this lucky.

IMG_5223

We opted into Sumo Wrestling and of course he impressed his lady and won.

IMG_5209

The french do not understand the rules of Beer Pong. Needless to say, we lost. C’est la vie.

IMG_5207

My first time ever having Chipotle and it was AMAZING. Good thing it’s a 5 minute walk from my school!

IMG_5234

FUN FACT: He searched all over Paris to find my favourite mustard for me (somehow he remembered me saying it when we were drunk). I have been here for a month and haven’t been able to find it and he’s here for a week with no map access and finds it? Yep, he’s a keeper.

 

 

 

 

FLIGHT BOOKED

After watching the price of flights to Paris rise over the weekend, I stuck it out and listened to every article that I found online about the best time to book flights being on a Tuesday. They were completely right in my case anyways. The one way flight to Paris in August with a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt was $530 last week, then spiked to $700 over the weekend and then today it was back down to $530 this morning. Let’s just say, I BOOKED MY FLIGHT ! I finally convinced my father that a one way ticket is just as cheap as buying a return so a one way it was!

A tip for booking flights! Don’t base the prices of flights just by looking at one search provider. I used several including, fligthhub, studentuniverse, statravel and finally came across ebookers. Ebookers was $70 cheaper for the same flight so DO YOUR RESEARCH!

I feel so relieved and less stressed now that I just did it without even thinking twice. I am so frugal with my money so to be able to just spend that much money on something must mean this trip is of importance to me. I’m sitting here at my desk wanting to share my excitement but sadly there is no one around, so I guess writing it will have to do for now!

What else have I been up to? 

  • I got in contact with Condor to discuss the baggage rules and it’s only $85 extra to bring a second checked suitcase of 50lbs so I have decided that I am going to do that because there is no way that I can pack for 4 seasons in one bag along with the gifts for my host family. Last weekend I went out and bought two 28 inch suit cases; one blue and one hot pink which i hope will be enough space! Anything is better than the little 25 inch one I was attempting to use before.

9058-5355

  • I have enrolled and received confirmation of my french lessons which I needed to do in order for my host family to be able to take my contract to the DIRECCTE in order to get stamped.
  • I BOOKED MY FLIGHTS
  • oh yeah, I graduated college, no biggie!

Now I guess I just have to wait (hopefully no longer than 2 weeks) for my contract to be approved and then wait again for them to mail it back to me here in Canada. Next step after that is to gather all of my necessary documents and stuff them in an envelope and send to the french consulate in Montreal. They finally got in contact with me and for some reason I don’t have to make an appointment, yet everyone else I have talked to has had to which kind of scares me. I guess it should be fine because I do have proof of the consulate in Montreal stating that it is okay to mail my documents so I will use that for reference.