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.

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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!

You decide your own destiny

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the little things in life

You know when you were little and sang Christmas songs at school in front of the school, but you really only had one objective; to catch your parents eye and waive at them with that proud feeling. Today I was that parent.

“I will take P to school this morning because the cake needs to be dropped off for her Christmas concert” the mother proclaimed as I brewed my first cup of coffee this morning.

“Oh I can do it considering i’m going to watch her” I replied.

The mother stared at me with a strange look then said “oh really?” I explained that P had invited me the day before probably knowing that her parents both worked in the mornings and was used to not having anyone there. The mother was more than pleased with my decision to go and seemed more surprised than anything. When I was asked to attend there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would miss it, especially considering her parents couldn’t make it.

I stood in the farthest back row of the parents but managed to stand on my tip toes t catch a glimpse of P on the stands singing her little heart out. When my eyes finally found hers a big smile appeared across her face followed by a 15 second period of waiving to no one other than myself. My heart melted in the thought that here I was, the only one under the age of 40 in a crowd of parents, and this little girl was singing for me. My hand shot up above the crowd with an equally long waive to let her know that I could see her among the other children.

Once the group of children were finished singing their Christmas carols, they all flocked to the tables full of delicious french pastries and cakes. Apparently as I’ve learned that cake is 100% acceptable to consume anytime during the day, especially chocolate. I felt a tap on my back and quickly turned in hope that it was my little artist. Sure enough I was greeted, some could argue attacked, by P with her arms open ready for a hug and a big bisous.

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These are the moments I will remember when i’m looking back on my life.

Also, I’d like to point out how amazing this family has been. To any Au Pairs out there that are skeptical about starting their journey because of horror stories they have read. Don’t be afraid and go into it with an open mind because you never know where the experience will take you. This evening the family and I celebrated the ending of the school year with 3 bottles of delicious red wine might I say, traditional french sausage, fois gros and macaroons. Do I like these foods? Not particularly, okay red wine and macaroons taken out of course because who doesn’t like those. The point is that they are trying to make this the best experience possible for me and god am I ever appreciative. Upon everything they have already done for me a petit pere noel  surprised me with a present, but not just any little gift. Saint Laurent perfume… first a cashmere galleries Lafayette sweater for my birthday and now this? I”m truly blessed.

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Mom, if you’re reading this I now understand the excitement and joy you had when you sat and cheered me on at every sporting event. I never appreciated the fact that my parents would take time off work or rearrange their own plans in order to be there for me but now I realize how lucky I am to have such a dedicated family.

 

 

 

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.

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!

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.

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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? 

Wine Tasting in France – Check!

When your family offers you tickets to a wine testing expo, take them! Apparently yore suppose to just “taste” the wine than spit it out but what fun would that be? Julie and I left around 3 and were feeling a great sense of intoxication by 4:30, but thankfully there was not only free samples of alcohol but food too!

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It was a little bigger than I had imagined 

So the real question did I buy anything , me being so fugal with everything?

Yep! I caved and no not because I was intoxicated either. We ended up coming across a stand that wasn’t on my list of “must taste” wine , generously given to me by my host dad. A63 was the number , and it’s probably one j won’t forget. The man selling the wine was an older gentleman but took a different approach when trying to pawn off his wine. He proactively asked us to try t for one which didn’t happen at any other places . This being said we were two young girls who many people would assume weren’t going to pay money for a good bottle of wine; we sure showed them. Anyways after we explained our life stories, or quite frankly why two Canadian and Danish girls were at a wine expo, he started pouring wine into our glasses. After a quick swish he dumped them out. Here I was thinking , what a waste but he wanted to make sure we tasted only his wine. Then he started with his cheapest wine and so forth until he got to the one named Louis.. Which we found out was named after his son. IMG_7140

oh aren’t we just the cutest!

His wine may not have been the so called “best” wine there, but the way he chose to make his sale to us was enough for me. I really don’t know how anyone can say one wine is better than another anyways considering we all have our own preferences with taste.

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I’m having a hard time deciding if i’m now a red wine lover, because the white there was amazing!

After we felt like we had enough wine and champagne we headed to the food area where of course there were free samples. Julie and I are pretty much champions when it comes to snagging free things or so it seems. If you liked foe gras you would have been in heaven, for us not so much.

I give Julie credit for carrying around 5 bottles of wine, when I only had 2 because they are not the lightest accessories that’s for sure. We than headed to my first Danish Christmas market and tried typical danish Christmas cookies and boy were they ever good! They reminded me of our gingerbread men that we have at home, but smaller and even spicier! 

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My favorite Dane 

We ended our Saturday a lot earlier than we normally were, but that being said we had a very busy day full of lots of laughs and A LOT of wine. Finally after three weeks I’ve been at the camps d’elysses at night time to see the amazing lights that everyone has been boasting about! They are AMAZING and really prove the fact that Paris is known as the city of lights. I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight. IMG_7164

Yep I’m an au pair, and I’m proud of it

When i get asked what the heck I’m doing in paris, I’m not ashamed to tell the truth. I may be making less money than i’m spending in a week but i’m having the time of my life. Like anything in life, there are times when i truly hate what i’m doing and want to quit but the good times i’ve already experienced outweigh all the negative aspect. Not once have I been ashamed when saying what I’m doing in Paris because

1. I’ve never been this happy

2. There are more perks to this job than many may think

3. I’ve met friends that I would never have been able to meet if it wasn’t for being here in this situation.

I’ve taken on the role of a big sister to a little girl who wasn’t given the opportunity to have one which is something I can say i’ve had enough experience with and am more than happy to be able to do it again.
Responsibility
There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with this job. I mean, my host family has put complete trust in me to watch over their only pride and joy in life. I am responsible for her when they aren’t around no matter what trouble she finds herself getting into, its under me. Hiring someone to watch your child from across the ocean without knowing theoretically anything about them or their past is not something that I would want to do that’s for sure.
Experience
Imagine the experience I am going to get out of this year when I’m finished. For one, looking after a child requires a heck of a lot more work than many might think. I’ve been put in the position of essentially a third parent figure which is also been great practice for when I have children of my own. I am ale to learn another language while also teaching my own to someone else (with difficulty of course). I must say that being immersed in a city where the language you are learning is prominent, it’s a lot more effective.
 
Relationships
I’ve not only been able to create a relationship with my host family but I have had the opportunity to met so may others from all over the globe. With the help of social media there has been constant events put on for other au pairs and expats in general in Paris which makes it easy to mingle. I’ve met friends that I will keep for life and would never have met unless I had taken on this job, which brings me back to believe that everything happens for a reason.
Independence
There’s no crying to mommy and daddy when I need something here in Paris. These past three months I’ve had to do things that I should have been doing myself probably a long time ago but relied and took their help for granted. Long gone are the days where Mom would buy my shampoo and shaving cream or the daily coffee; or several. I’ve learned that things in life do not come easy or cheap for that matter, and surprisingly i’m okay with this fact. At one point or another we all have to grow up and face these facts and I guess that this was mine.
Fun
With every job i’ve done there has always been some sort of fun that has come along with it. Throughout the week I get to come up with activities and games to entertain her  which end up being fun for me as well. Who doesn’t love getting paid to play with children right? Another aspect of fun with this job; I get to wander around one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Travel
I defiantly chose the right country in terms of location and accessibility to other countries. France is in a very central part of Europe and already, within the two months I have been here I’ve traveled to Rome, Amsterdam and Brussels within a matter of hours. I was even lucky enough to venture back across the ocean to New York; who would have guessed. There are so many forms of transportation here which is something I’m not used to having the access to. We have one bus that would pass my house every hour where as here, they come and go every 5-10 minutes.
Simple Joy
There’s no better feeling than the bond you can have with a child of course once you gain their respect. Every morning when I wake up I look forward to running downstairs to receive my morning bisous from my petite soeur. 

The best things in life are rarely good ideas

“The best things in life are rarely good ideas”
I came across this quote while reading my current novel Stay with Me by Jennifer Armentrout and it instantly made me think about how true this really is, or has been recently in my own life.During the past two months, I have done things and made choices that I would once have considered “bad” not even a year ago.
How do we differentiate whether an idea is good or bad? What characteristics would make one better than the other?
We base our perceptions of ideas on what were told by society is the “good” or correct way to pursue things in our daily lives. Looking back at the past several months, there were a lot of decisions that I had to make where I ended up choosing the options with the most unknown outcomes. When judged by what society would consider a good idea, I failed and chose the majority of what would be considered as bad ones, but did they turn out bad?
The three letter word Bad doesn’t even exist my my current life. I am the happiest that I’ve ever been and did I chose the “good” path or what the world thinks we all should be? Not even close.
The best things in life are rarely good ideas
  • I turned down a career in my educational field to accept a job as an Au pair
  • Bought a one way ticket to paris
  • Attached a lock on the love bridge in paris
  • Jumped on a plane to rome to spend a weekend with someone I met for two hours, at nonetheless a bar
  • Went on my first party bus in Rome
  • Became a big sister to a little girl who never had an opportunity to have one before

Now this isn’t to say that good ideas aren’t exactly what they are said to be. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the multitude of positive and responsible decisions I made the past. I went to high school, played multiple sports, graduated college, kept a close bond with my family, and even bought my first car. Every single one of those events were made possible from good choices that I made order to achieve these results. After college graduation my life felt off balance; missing a crucial part of happiness. I was living every day in such a structured lifestyle with a familar foreseen outcome. I can’t say that i ever pictured myself living the current lifestyle I am today especially in another country but I finally am starting to feel true happiness all from being spontaneous and adapting to change.

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