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Where I’ve Been

If you follow this blog, even semi-regularly, you might be wondering where I’ve been. Well I’m going to start this post with an apology:

Dear friends, readers, random internet folks, please forgive my five-month break from blogging.

You don’t need me to tell you that sitting down to write your thoughts and observations, choosing eye-catching photos, and formatting posts takes time, energy, and effort. These are three things that I was severely lacking these past few months.

It feels like everyone and their mother (yes, real mothers were involved) has been asking me if I let this blogging project slide; if I ever planned on getting back on the horse (sorry for all the clichés). For awhile I didn’t know how to respond. Because no, I wasn’t and I’m not done blogging, but I wasn’t sure when I’d be ready to tackle this little project again.

You see, the past year was really difficult and those difficulties really came to a head the last six months or so. Things got to the point where I just couldn’t stomach one more thing. If you’ve ever had a period like that, which, if you’re over the age of 16, I’m sure sure you have, I’m sure you can understand that certain projects, plans, desires fall to the wayside in favor of digging yourself out of the hole you’ve fallen into.

In fact, I’m just starting to come to terms with everything that happened even though I left my host family a month ago. I’m not the type to get too gossipy on the internet, but let’s just say that my au pair duties made me feel like I had lost control of my life.

I had a hard time adjusting to my host family’s rules and never really adapted to my work schedule. Working until 8:30 PM made it impossible to attend after work events and happy hours. Having to babysit once a week divided my weekends and severely limited my ability to make travel plans.

I was living in Paris, but not feeling like I could enjoy it. I was living in the center of western Europe and couldn’t make time for weekends away. I’m sure I sound spoiled and ungrateful, but coming to France was supposed to enable me to travel and explore, not make me feel like a bird with clipped wings.

My really expensive BA in Psychology doesn’t qualify me to do much, but I think I can safely say that I was mildly depressed and severely frustrated these last few months.

At the end of each day, even if I had run, done well during my French class, worked on articles for the travel website I work for, had fun with the kids, I still felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything and I dreaded even thinking that I would do the same thing the next day.

I cried at least once a week, got so angry that I couldn’t speak, and relished the weekends like a starving man relishes a burger.

That’s not to say that I gave up. I coped by rededicating myself to studying French in order to pass a national diploma attesting to my level (the DALF C1), I transcribed audio files to make some money on the side, and I visited almost every museum in Paris.

But the blog fell by the wayside. If you’ve ever had a hard period in your time, you’ll know that when you’re down you feel the need to close yourself off, be silent, and reflect. That time is precious for your survival because it enables you to analyze your life and adjust it so it conforms better with your expectations.

That’s what these last few months have been for me. I threw myself into my work, confided in those close to me, and I planned for my future. As a result I can now say that I’ve emerged from that somber period knowing more about myself, my interests, and what I need to feel fulfilled.

I feel confident and ready to restart blogging. I can’t promise to post all the time (at least for a few months or so), but I certainly won’t have another long lapse like this past one.


Sept- Dec 2014 684

All European Capitals Before 30

I’m not one of those people who likes to set travel goals. I feel like trying to count one’s travels is akin to making them like a work project; it takes all of the fun and spontaneity out of it. However, I recently found myself setting the goal of visiting all of the capitals in Europe before I turn 30.

I don’t know why I changed my mind about goal-oriented travelling. Maybe because the winter and my work situation have made it feel like I haven’t travelled in months and that I NEED a little break. Maybe because, heck, I’ve already visited a fair number of capitals (and live in one, oh hey Paris). Or maybe because I absolutely love Europe and because I feel like it’s a worthwhile undertaking.

In any case, the goal has been set, and while I don’t have any immediate plans to check another city off my list, I’m confident that my future plans will permit me to achieve this little project of mine.

To motivate myself, I thought I’d do a little summary of the capitals I’ve visited. So, here it goes…(in order of first visited to most recently visited)

Continue reading “All European Capitals Before 30”

Sept- Dec 2014 709

Se Débrouiller

The verb se débrouiller in French is difficult to translate. If you consult a dictionary, it will tell you that the English equivalent is “to manage.” But that doesn’t quite capture the sense.

Rather, this word means something like “if you want it, if you’re smart enough, if you work hard enough, you might succeed achieving your objective.” The utility of this word is that pretty much anything from finishing a degree to moving abroad to simply figuring out how to open a door (I’ll explain) can be described by se débrouiller.

This word also heavily implies that ain’t nobody gonna help you get what you want except you. Continue reading “Se Débrouiller”

Paris March 2014 023

Secrets of Being an Au Pair

Being an au pair can be a great experience for young people looking to travel, learn a new language, or work with children. Your housing, food, and health insurance are paid for by your host family. In addition, many host families will let the au pair use their car, they will pay for a transportation pass, and they will pay for a cell phone. Some very generous families will even pay for the au pair’s flight and language classes.

And while it’s true that au pairing does offer many advantages, I found when searching for information about being an au pair, there was a lack of information about personal experiences. If you’re interested in being an au pair, you can find plenty of information on Au Pair World about legal requirements, there’s almost nothing about the everyday details (although this post from Ashley Abroad is incredibly helpful for those interested in being an au pair in France).

So, given this lack of information, I wanted to do my due diligence and contribute what I’ve learned about being an au pair.  Continue reading “Secrets of Being an Au Pair”