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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!
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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.

Growing up is never easy

Something that I’ve recently realized, and has been tough to actually want to come to terms with, is the fact that I’m growing up whether I like it or not.

When we’re younger all we want is to be older, have more independence and be essentially free from rules. So here I am, now a considerably amount older with more freedom than I want sometimes, and all I want is to reverse back time; when life consisted of unlimited ice cream and doing cartwheels on the soccer field.

I’ve been away from home for the past 4 years now but this time is different. I can’t just drive an hour on the weekend to spend time at home or be involved in the annual activities like I used to. I’m used to being able to do anything and be anywhere but that’s impossible in my current situation. I missed out on the annual girls trip which I have gone on with my grandparents, aunts, mother and cousins for years. Of course it’s upsetting not the be able to do everything but that’s life as I’ve come to realize. There will always be things we want to be doing and places we want to be no matter where or what we do.

When I was home I dreamed about being abroad travelling and here I am abroad and dreaming about home. That’s what life seems to be all about; having to make sacrifices simply because we can’t do everything we desire. Imagine having everything in life go perfectly as planned to your utmost satisfaction. Do you think you’d be happy?

More than likely, not.

Growing up I was very fortunate to have the guidance and love that my parents gave me which helped shape me into the person I am today. At home I had a very satisfying life to be honest. I had a car, a roof over my head, a well paying job and was always surrounded by family but that didn’t mean I was happy; or at least the happiest I could be. That’s simply because my time had come to find my place in this world outside of the comfort of my surroundings. Over the past five months I’ve been able to see a whole new person emerge from this body and I’m not about to let her leave.

My happiness is determined by my own choices.

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winning the jackpot when it comes to finding a host family

Winning the jackpot, now wouldn’t that be nice. Though, I’ve come to realize that money doesn’t always mean happiness and that winning the so called lottery can actually refer to many other things in life, such as family. I really enjoy this quote as it’s been ever so true in my life so far here in Paris. The only reason that I’m even here is the fact that I essentially gambled with finding a family, not knowing what they would be like before arriving. In this instant I won but only because I made the decision to chance the unexpected in hope of hitting the so called jackpot, and here I am a winner.

I don’t want to sit here and boast about how amazing my life is here in Paris but boy, is it ever good. I’ve taken way too many things for granted in my life and being here is something I’m not about to let myself do again. I have the most amazing family here and am ever so fortunate to have found them or for them to have chosen me of all people to be apart of their family for the year. I’ve heard horror stories from other au pairs with their own situations resulting in many of them leaving which makes me that much more grateful.

This past Saturday, which is typically a day off for me, I was awakened by a slight knock on my bedroom door only to find that it was the father, inviting me to go to the supermarket with him to grab some groceries. Some groceries meaning 2-3 weeks worth. Of course I was more than enthused at this idea as it’s become a bi-weekly event for us, actually more like a language exchange date. We talk English on the way there so he can practice and than french on our way home for me. Following our expedition to Auchan we ate an Indian styled lunch that the father prepared and might I say was very proud about. That afternoon the family invited me to go to the cinema with them to watch Paddington, and I accepted the invitation of course. The movie was by far one of the cutest family films I have watched in a while, and being able to experience it with the three of them made it that much better, especially since I’m missing my own family over this holiday.

Yesterday morning, before I left for Paris the family asked me if I would be home for supper this evening and as the majority of Sunday evenings the answer is yes. They were more than thrilled at this response for some odd reason and therefore explained they would be cooking my favorite sweet potato fries which I haven’t had in 4 months, accompanied by a new red wine he had bought of course. This family has no obligation to do these small things for me, but gosh am i ever appreciative. The fact that they are making such an effort to make me feel as comfortable as possible in this foreign country is beyond what I expected when being welcomed into their family. While the mother did the nightly routine with Perrine the father and I enjoyed a bottle of red wine and had a pretty in depth conversation about the importance of spending time with your children. That’s one thing I notice with this family, is that they really focus on making the weekends family time with just the three of them.

It’s just the small things that really make the difference for me.

– Coming down stairs every morning to a fresh cup of coffee already prepared for me.
– the dad gave me his train ticket to London and back (okay this one is a bit more than a little gesture but very appreciated)
– they make an effort to make meals that they know I will enjoy
– after my showers at night there’s always a cup of green tea waiting for me in the living room
– they invite me to their family events and social gatherings as if I’m another member of the family
– they are never more than a day late with my weekly pay

It’s as if I was given the best of both worlds here; a good job and a great family.

We all need a break once in a while

Rest. A four letter word that isn’t frequent enough in my life. I come from a family of people that are constantly on the go so it’s just been instilled in me as being the way to live. Yesterday was a remarkable moment in my life. I relaxed and did absolutely nothing but watch some good old Netflix.

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Maybe it was because I was still recuperating from my trip to London or the fact that I’m sicker than a dog but all I really wanted to do was to shower and watch tv, another thing I haven’t done in the 4 months I’ve been abroad. If you know me well enough you will know that this is something I NEVER do. No matter how hungover, sick, bored, tired I am… I always feel the need to leave the house and wander or do something. I like to think I get this on the go demeanor from both sides of my family. I mean, good luck EVER reaching my mother at home or my 75 year old grandmother who doesn’t stop from 4am on wards when she’s starting her mail route. I feel so blessed to have such hard working women in my life as role models because I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I can say it’s defiantly made me more productive of a person but at some point you just get worn out and need to rest.

So what did I learn from taking a day to just reposée as the french would say?

That I need to do more of it. I feel rejuvenated and so much less stressed, even though there really shouldn’t have been any in the first place. I watched a whole series of The Mindy Project, baked muffins for tomorrows breakfast and did a load of laundry. The whole laundry is actually quite a big accomplishment considering it takes a whole 3 hours just for the washing cycle to do its process. Oh, and why I just decided today to get hooked on this amazing TV show is beyond me. Mindy, my friend you are one funny chick. Upon picking my girl up from school I realized how much better of a mood I was in than I typically am when rushing from Paris to make the train in time. Since I had the whole day to do what my heart desired all I really wanted to do when we got home was to entertain her, which hasn’t happened in a long time since being here. Today I’ve finally realized that while I’m constantly trying to be as productive as I can be with the time i’m given, sometimes the most productive things are actually done with the least amount of effort. This relates back to my struggle with perfectionism and always trying to be the best, make good decisions, and accomplish as many things as I tell myself i’m capable of doing. We often put ourselves such a high pedestal of having these unrealistic expectations of ourselves and then when we fail we’re disappointed. If we lower those expectations ever so slightly and accept that no matter what we do in the course of a day, we will not find perfection, happiness will be found.

Let’s just say, these whole rest days will be happening more often.

10 Reasons why london is better than Paris

I think I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop taking these weekend trips while living in Paris simply because it’s making me become quite negative about the city. Before adventuring to other parts of Europe I thought that Paris was “all that” but sadly in my opinion that’s not been the case. Don’t get me wrong I love Paris without a doubt and am so grateful to be living here for the next 8 months but boy did I ever underestimate the rest of the continent!

In comparison the two cities are pretty similar. They both have well known attractions such as Big Ben the London eye and the tower bridge in London, whereas in Paris there’s the Eiffel tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame. The temperatures are relatively the same with Paris being every so slightly warmer. I’ve put together some of the reasons why I fell in love with London to share with y’all.

1. The people are 110% nicer.
I can’t sit here and sterotype all of the parisians for being rude but i’ve had some pretty unpleasant experiences that have led me to believe so. Upon arriving in London, I didn’t have one person purposly bump into me and if they did ther was a sympathtic sorry to instantly follow. When paying for items at the stores you’re actually greeted with a smile as if they actuall care about their customers; so refreshing from France.

2. There are coffee chains EVERYWHERE.
When I say everywhere, i mean it. I can’t even count the number of pret a manger’s that I passed or the numerious hidden starbucks throughout the city.

3. H&M stores aren’t on every street corner. 
Don’t get me wrong I like a good shopping day at H&M like any other girl but the temptation in Paris is way too much!

4. It doesn’t smell like pee everywhere.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say this scent has something to be desired.

5. It’s clean!
The fact that smoking along the streets just didn’t happen was a blessing let me tell you. I’m not a fan of having people either blow smoke in my face or having a cigarette flung into my face. Another fact was that I didn’t see one person on the streets begging for money, this being said I didn’t experience the metro system so that could be a different story.

6. The museums are FREE.
Oh the magical 4 letter that makes me happier than the bees. One of the main reasons I haven’t made more of an effort to go to ones in Paris yet is because they cost money unless I want to attempt to enter on the first Sunday of the month.

7. The men on the streets selling chestnuts in Paris? Yeah I didn’t see any in London.
I’m sorry, but I really don’t enjoy men trying to pressure me into buying their hot chestnuts that they cook in a shopping cart. It’s dirty, annoying and plain weird.

8. People speak English, my mother tongue.
This is completely biased towards any English speaking people but it was refreshing to be able to understand everything.

9. There are free WiFi phone booths throughout the city.
These converted telephone booths saved my but a couple of times when I needed to connect to WiFi and better yet they were free!

10. I’ll take fish and chips over foie gras any day

The negative?
It’s god awfully expensive that’s for sure. Currently with the conversion rate between CAD and GDP is doubled.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the two cities!

Weekend trip to London via Eurostar

Day 1 – First train ride, Christmas Markets & fellow Canadians

The morning started off very hectic; between the daily task of getting Perrine off to school and trying to pack a week in a bookbag (leaving space might i add for purchase of course). I was actually pretty excited to take this trip. Thankfully the station for the eurostar is relatively easy to get to from my own train station which took no time at all.

Thank god I took my host dad’s advice and came to the station early because they allowed us to board 30 mins before we were supposed to leave. At this point I was feeling pretty confident in that fact that I had made it through immigration and to my proper quai with time to spare. I descended the stairs to the train and entered the first door i saw and found a seat with my number 21 on it. I was sitting for probably 2 minutes before a couple came and told me that I was in there seat. I showed them my ticket in annoyance with my seat number on it which they proceeded to show me that the word “voie” actually means something and wasn’t just an extra number on my ticket. Apparently there are different cars so I happened to be in 18 when I should have been all the way in 10. Whoops. Why I thought that there would only be one seat numbered 21 i have no idea.

Anyways, let’s just say it all worked out for the better anyways. Car 18 is actually for “business class “ members which apparently my ticket was for. Another whoops. I swear my blonde is showing more and more lately. so you may wonder why I have a business class ticket considering that’s so not my style but my host dad willingly offered me one of his tickets he gets through work. Another reason why I am so god awfully lucky to have such an amazing host family. Business class, consisted of only half of the seats being filled of english speaking businessmen and then there was me, a poor Canadian au pair; gotta love it.

Along with business class came the free food. My favorite part of travelling! Sadly because it was only 11am I turned down the free wine regretting it after the fact of course. The trip was a fast 2 hours and before I knew it we were there.

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Shockingly they do have buses like I’d imagined!

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What a beautiful view

IMG_0484  Yeah, he was a bit bigger than I expected!

Arriving in London I instantly knew that I was going to love the city, maybe not the prices, but the atmosphere was completely different. The people for one thing were NICE, which is refreshing to say the least when comparing it to my experiences so far in Paris. Once again I didn’t have internet access but I downloaded an offline map before leaving which was going to be my guide for the day. I knew that I was going to be alone all day which was honestly fine by me because it gave me a chance to walk and adventure the city by foot. I swear that I went into every store possible that I thought would have been the least bit interesting. Thanks to my grandfather Cress I have a HUGE love for running errands and am always running between shops to scope the best deals. There weren’t many “deals” but I sure did find some pretty neat things that I know I can’t get back home.

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Toffee infused vodka!
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The beautiful Christmas Markets

I arrived at the hostel 6 hours later than when I arrived at the train station so needless to say I was tired, cold and in desperate need for some type of alcohol beverage (sorry mom!) I was in a room with 13 other people who turned out to be an amazing crowd mostly Americans to be honest. When I was walking down the stairs to the bar I saw someone wave to me outside the doors which through me for a loop considering I had just arrived and knew absolutely no one. Turns out he thought i was someone else but hey! he was Canadian and i ended up spending the whole evening with him and some Australian ladies I met! When I first entered the bar I was alone but if you know me well enough i’m not the shy type or haven’t been lately since being abroad.

I saw a group of 4 girls who looked about my age laughing and drinking, kind of making me jealous more than anything, so what do i do? Grab a drink and introduce myself as the Canadian who’s actually living in Paris but travelling in London. Introductions are always interesting that’s for sure. Their response to my spontaneous action? “you know what girl, I like your confidence”

Confidence.. something that I recently just acquired. I mean, I’ve always had a hint of it but for different reasons. Growing up I used my ability to play sports as my confidence booster but once those days ended, I kind of lost myself for a while. Since arriving in Europe I’m learning who I am again, what makes me happy and how to simply enjoy life, all because of my new-found confidence. I’m not afraid to try and speak french and be wrong or make decisions that may not be the best choice, but that’s finally okay with me. Perfection is invisible.

Day 2 – Hop on hop off Buses, pee breaks, and cards

I woke up around 9:30 thinking that I was going to be late to meet my friends Julie and Courtney who had arrived at midnight the night before. Come to find out London is an hour behind Paris, who knew. After having a horrible breakfast of toast and ham, (shame on you belushis) we met our other friend Katie in the lobby to plan our day. The girls found this hop on hop off bus that happened to be 10 pounds cheaper than what the hostel was offering but it wasn’t the easiest procedure thats for sure. We each bought the tickets on our dying cellphones and then had to forward the tickets to the hostel staff where they thankfully printed them out for us. Next task was to find the closest hop on stop, which was only 10 mins down the street; go us!

I’m going to admit that when my friends told me that this is what they wanted to do I was hesitant. First off because it was 23 pounds which is $44 in Canadian dollars. Secondly because the route was the same landmarks that I had seen the day before on my walking trip. Fast forward to a couple hours later you would’ve heard me saying how awesome I thought the bus trip was. Needless to say, if you’re in London splurge a little and get the bus ticket! They take you to all of the popular monuments and areas of the city while providing a audio playback of history and facts throughout the journey. We jumped off by Hyde park but were starving so instead of hitting the Winter wonderland we took a stroll which ended up taking almost 2 hours to find a place to eat with seating. After stuffing our bellies we went back to Hyde Park thinking we were going to be drinking mulled wine and eating chocolate all night only to see how insanely large the lineup was changing our plans a little. Okay a lot. We caught the bus again and headed back to the hostel.

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Winter Wonderland!

I swear I have the bladder of a pregnant woman. I knew as soon as I hoped on that bus there was no way that I was going to be able to last the hour ride back without having to go. About 20 mins of suffering later I had left my friends on the bus and I hopped off at a random stop to find a bathroom. Stupid? Probably but when a girls gotta go, nothing is stopping her. Needless to say finding another bus wasn’t all the difficult and before I knew it I was back at the hostel joining my friends.

So what kind of shenanigans do 4 young girls do on a Saturday night in London? Oh boy, prepare yourselves …. We played rummy, drank cider and ate food in the hostel bare. I know, pretty crazy right? This is what happened when you’re an au pair and work all week! On the weekends you just want to relax which was fine by me last night considering I was recovering from my karaoke session the night before and I had a lovely cold. We called it a night around 11:30 and parted our ways for the night.

That night I just couldn’t sleep, probably a mix of the temperature of the room and my growing sickness. I decided not to waste the day and headed out exploring before my friends had even gotten out of their rooms. Once again I spent the day walking the city and finding things that I hadn’t seen the day before. It was drizzling but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing things.

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Chocolate tools at the market!

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Tea Testing was a must!

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The covert garden market- A must see!

How to enjoy your job no matter what is it you choose

My job may not be something desirable for many, I mean, before coming here I really didn’t even have an interest in even being around children but as you probably can tell, that’s changed a bit. I must admit at the beginning it was harder than I had imagined it to be but frankly I believe that it had to do with my general attitude and outlook on the situation. Even though i’m only 21 I too have had jobs which I dreaded going to each and every day, but I learned to make the best of the situation. In the world we live in today, I feel we should be lucky to have a job and that it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to love your job as much as her? wishful thinking in most cases. Photo from: Dumb Little Man

1. Find the things you enjoy in a job atmosphere.

Try and put yourself in a place where you are completely happy at work and visualize what you are doing. For me I saw being organized, traveling often, baking up a storm, and most of all having a connection with my fellow peers.

I can honestly say the hardest task in my current job was finding a comfortable relationship with the family; especially their child. It took almost 2 months to finally feel like I was doing the right thing with my life and had chosen the right family for me.

2. Figure out how to incorporate those into your current situation.

Of course this is not always possible. Imagine having chose to work at a bank but have the desire to be playing soccer on the field. Instead you could think of how you’re feeling when doing those activities. For example, if you’re the captain of leader on the team than put those skills and abilities into action at the workplace.

Baking was something that I really missed as it’s not just a hobby for me but psychology relaxing. It’s where I’m able to use my creativity and independent skills to come up with a successful end product. Oh course there’s no such thing as always being successful but that’s life; we live and we learn. Once I found that sense of comfort in my “workplace” I started slowly organizing time specifically for baking or spending time blogging. It’s like anything in life, you have to make time for the things that are important to you.

3. Don’t give up because it didn’t work the first time.

Two weeks into my contract with my family here I had it set in my mind that I had made a terrible decision and that I was going to have to find another place to work. Why? that brings me back to finding that sense of comfort, which as I’ve learned takes time. Nothing ever comes easy in the beginning and sometimes, well most of the time, we feel uncomfortable with change. Change is scary, but without it you’ll never be able to make any progress in life, therefore it’s essential.

Don't Give Up

If Charlie brown can do it, you can too. Photo: Career Rocketeer

4. Speak up

If you’re not happy with the way that thing are going don’t wait for things to change because they probably won’t no matter how many stars you wish upon. Thankfully I’ve been blessed with my grandmothers genes and have no problem expressing my thoughts, this can at times be counter productive. I truly believe that communication is the key to any sort of success in life. Imagine having a relationship with someone where you didn’t communicate with one another and how many challenges you would face. It works the same its you’re relationships in the workplace.

5. Make yourself noticeable.

As humans we naturally thrive with having recognition for our accomplishments. Recognition comes when we differentiate yourself from others and make an impact in the lives of someone else. This can be difficult especially in my situation where I am the only employee but let me reassure you that it is possible. I’ve realized you’ve got to give a little to get a little and that little you receive i return may just end up being a lot.

I do the dishes, clean the house and do the laundry not because I’m required to as it’s not on my contract but because I want to help out. I want to show this family that I appreciate being a member of their family and am not just another employee, yet more a sister to their daughter. When the dog went missing I took it upon myself to search their town and guess who ended up being the big hero? Yep, it was me. Showing your employer those small things will show that you have higher and more a creditable qualities than they may have thought

6. Forget Perfectionism

I am a huge perfectionist so I’ve defiantly had my quite a few rough patches when of course life, wasn’t perfect. Growing up my mother would constantly say “nothing is perfect, you need to realize that”. I guess our mothers are always right, because it’s true. Nothing is every going to be “perfect”, whatever that word means anyways, because everyone has their own idea of what it means to them. As I’ve learned, we can’t all get what we want in life, but we can make do with what we do have and what is offered to us.

Have you had jobs where you’ve absolutely hated them but stuck it out? 

Decisions will be the death of me

I’ll admit it, i’m a perfectionist. I always want to know what i’m doing next and hate change. Of course, I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone a little bit, okay A LOT, since being here in Paris. I am never 100% of what i’m doing from one day to another which has been a huge change for me, but definitely a much needed one. As I’ve learned the hard way, life isn’t perfect as much as I would love for it to be, and for everything to also work out as planned.

Here I am with about eight months left of my time here abroad and i’m already thinking of “what’s next”. This could be a negative thing of course because when I think, i tend to over think which leads to stress and as we all know, stress is never good. Logically speaking I should at least have an idea of where I want to go when I’m finished, let alone what I want to be doing there. There’s so many questions and decisions to make and yes, I realize that I still have a long time until I make the final move, there’s a lot of preparation that needs to happen in order for some of those choices to even be possible.

Up until today I was dead set against taking another semester of french lessons after Christmas. For one, they are 500 euros every 10 weeks, secondly,I didn’t feel that I’m learning enough in my classes as it is. Of course there’s always something that will make you second guess your decision.  Today in class we we were informed of a professional french class aimed at students that want a more advanced class leading to a certificate in the end which is recognized worldwide. Considering I have an education in the finance industry this could be extremely helpful, but is that really what I want with my life?

How am I supposed to know.

Stats show that people change jobs 5-7 in their lifetime so at least this gives me hope that even if it’s not what I “want” I’ll eventually get there.

Maybe I’ll go back to university or open a bakery but the unfortunate thing is that the only person that can decide that is simply me, and I have no answer. I need to keep my head up and my options open because I am not going to let myself fall back into the stressful life I was living, when really there was no stress needed at all. I tend to get caught up in trying to always make the right choice, which I’ve learnt is not always possible because who can declare the correct choice in any given situation anyways. I have dreams as does anyone, and yes some are unrealistic but this path i’m on currently had definitely given me faith that when you let go and just live, you’ll find happiness which is what we all should want in the end. I’ve grown up watching so many people around me living their lives in an atmosphere that they aren’t happy with and I’m determined not to let myself fall onto that path.

So my decision? I still don’t a direct answer which must mean that I have yet to find what I came here for. Time will tell all.

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? 

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.

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