So this is the post that makes little, if any, sense probably, but there are a lot of things that I have to get written down and it would be weird to make separate posts for everything. So, here we go – reADY? Great.
1. I’M ON VIMEO!
I’ve had a couple of people ask me to make some video updates of my au pair-ness, so here’s the first one. I couldn’t figure out Youtube, so it’s on Vimeo. Hurray!
2. Debit Card Emergency Averted:
Last week my bank decided to cancel my debit card and send me a new one, which I got in the mail but then wasn’t able to activate (so my mom in the US had to) it then turned out that the card’s PIN number was broken (or something like that) which I didn’t find out until I was visiting a friend in the middle of nowhere and needed cash for bus fare. Commence mad dash intercontinental scramble. Since I couldn’t text my mom I had to text my sister and cousin who told my mom the problem and after a couple of VERY STRESSFUL hours, phone calls and running back and forth to the ATM we finally got an old card activated and working so I could get money out and make it back home. A HUGE THANK YOU to my mom, sister and cousin for being responsive and proactive and awesome and for helping me out. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
If you send me snail mail I will love you forever. To anyone who has sent me postcards or packages you are the best and it makes my whole day 100% better to get mail from home!
4. Today’s Inspiration:
I’ve been super inspired, today, by this awesome lady who took a solo backpacking trip across Iceland. Having taken just a baby solo trip, compared to hers, I know it’s not easy but it’s so important to share these stories. One of my absolute missions in life is to prove, encourage and inspire women (and men) to travel internationally! It might not be individually, but it might be! Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams!
Hold the phone, stop the presses, because there’s some news that’s more important. Netflix is coming to France. I’m so happy I could cry.
So, I’m thinking I might get a GoPro camera because I think I can justify having one as someone who travels an absurd amount of the time. But here’s the thing, I don’t know anything about them! I’ve seen people using them, and I know what they are for/how they work etc. But I’m not sure about which model is best, features etc. Does anyone have one/know people who have one?? Let me know in the comments section! Thaaaaannnnk you in advance! ❤
This week seems to be the week of food, here. I’ve baked my first dessert, started putting together salads and dressings…and I’ve BEGAN to find my way around the French supermarket by my house. It’s not easy, because things aren’t arranged the same was as in the US…but slowly I’m starting to love my little adventures to the store.
This week I’ve been inspired by lots, but I thought I would share my food inspirations specifically.
1. Julia Child: Another American who spent time navigating the world of French living, I spent a good 30 minutes learning how to make a perfect omelet, today.
2. The Little Mermaid: My brother and I had a potentially unhealthy obsession with this song growing up, and I definitely had it in mind while I was cooking this week. In fact, mid ingredients I definitely said “Zut, Alors! I have missed one!”
3. Ebay: Ebay has been my friend pretty hard core for cooking ingredients (who knew!?) and cooking supplies. Measuring spoons/cups aren’t really a thing in France, so I haven’t been able to find any in the stores near me. While I was looking for some, I found these beauties, though, and I think I’m going to save up for them!
Like any given Sunday in the life of moi, this morning I went to church. Being a Christian, and it being Sunday, that fact is a fairly unexciting statistic. But, what made today different, was that “going to church” meant going into a gigantic medieval style stone structure filled marble carved statues (we’re talking 8-10 feet high, including a skeleton reaper which is #hellapunk) in a small French town. Oh, and that it was Catholic. Which I am not.
Now you may think there would be some cultural differences for an American Protestant girl who ducked her way into a party where no one speaks her exact verbal or spiritual language, and you would be right. But overall I felt incredibly refreshed by the experience. The reason I was there in the first place was because it’s the only church within 30 miles of where I live. Not gonna lie – the lack of options is kind of a bummer.
The church service was as traditional and conservative as you could probably find anywhere, complete with a pipe organ and higher than usual pitched singing. It reminded me of church coronations/marriage scenes from Elizabeth or Ever After. But, overall I loved the service. It was pieced together with biblical scriptures and interval hymns (In French, of course, which was amazing) and I loved that it constantly engaged those who were there to worship.
Afterward, I stopped by the flower shop across the street and bought a little purple flower bush to bring some life to my room. It worked. I’m so much happier seeing my little plant ward every time I walk in the door. It really is just the best for someone, like me, who is obsessed with the natural world.
The final excitement for the day happened when I logged in to my favorite websites, Hulu and Netflix, to relax for the evening. Then, to my utter astonishment, from BOTH websites, I was told that they did not work within the country I was operating. As in – there was NO Netflix, Hulu or Pandora in THIS WHOLE COUNTRY. Try to grasp my horror. It was quite severe and really couldn’t have been worse. I’m not ashamed to say it, I adore all of these websites, and being able to relax and watch a movie is essential to bringing together my feeling of home.
I’m starting to realize more than ever that, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make home feels like home. Like Netflix. Or a random little shrub in your room.
I am sorry to sound like a spoiled American brat, but when I first found out I would have no access to Netflix, Hulu or Pandora I was pretty seriously considering booking it out of France…ok, so I wasn’t, but I was pretty upset. I don’t have many of my movies with me here in France, so it’s really important to have these resources. Would I die without them, no. Would I be a lot less happy about life? Yes. LUCKILY, I have amazing friends who let me in on the secret of Chromzising websites and making them work with Hola. I couldn’t be more happy.
Today has been a full and relaxing day, overall. I actually had the guts to tell my host family I didn’t want to go with them, the kids and their grandparents to the park, a decision which needed to be made since it’s my day off and they keep trying to “include me” on these days – which is nice…but I’ll be with the kids this week 7am-7pm every day (school doesn’t start until next week) so I think I’ll have quite enough kid time for the week without going out on my day off. Instead I stayed home and wrote letters to any and everyone I could think of. I ran out of postcards, but I plan on getting more on my next trip outside this petit-chateau.
Also, if you’ve asked me to send you a letter/postcard please please be patient. I’m mailing out the first bunch today, but there are still some people I’ve missed that will have to go out the next time I have the courage to go into the post office and ask for stamps.
Today was pretty magical. And even though I’m tired from running around, the fact that I’m tired from running around inside of castles makes the fatigue bearable.The castle pictured is the Castle (or Château) of Sully-Sur-Loire and was a medieval fortress for generations of Dukes in this area of France. I would go on and on about my day, but since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll let you see the results, instead.
I realized today that I haven’t ever formally shared my story about how I became/am becoming an au pair in France. It’s pretty brilliant, so hold on to your seat. As all good stories do mine starts with:
“Once upon a time …”
I got laid off from my job. Ha. They gave me one week notice, which is insane and possibly illegal (at least morally). Needless to say, I hit panic mode. I applied for any and every job I could even remotely be qualified for. Then, when nothing happened, I started applying for jobs I was only meagerly qualified for.
This is when I stumbled on adds for taking care of kids. “I can do that,” I thought, “how hard can it be?” I was raised in a family of 5, with a hard working teacher for a mother, and the responsibility of partially raising my younger siblings, so becoming a second “mother” to random kids seemed like a natural enough transition. While applying, I decided I only wanted to work with larger families (3+ kids) so I didn’t get bored. And when I found one that said 5 kids, I knew it was perfect. I don’t know why, but in my mind I convinced myself that the more kids, the busier I would be, which would make working so much easier.
So I emailed off my resume. And got a response! I went in for an interview that week and it went great. They said they would email me back that week. So I waited. And waited. And waited. I think it was somewhere around a month later that I heard back that I got the job. It was nerve wrecking to say the least – mainly because, after months of no work, I had eaten through my savings and didn’t have the next months rent.
When I first started working as a nanny I thought I would work there for 1 year tops, since that was what my contract was for. As the months went by, though, I realized I may need to stick around for a bit longer. See, the family only consisted of 3 kids when I started, all biological children to the parents. Within 6 months there were two more who had been adopted from Africa.
For those who know about adoption, you know it’s a huge transition. There are a lot of aspects that have to come together to make it work, and one of them is the stability of the people around the kids. So I gave myself the time limit of 2 years. After that I would have to move on. It wasn’t that I hated my job, but I’ve seen people get comfortable in “good” jobs that are going nowhere and only realize 5 years later that they’ve wasted their time.
This year, at about 1.5 years I started wondering what I was going to do next. I love my job, and I was determined not to leave it unless something amazing came up. There was no way I was ever going back into the world of zombies, windowless cubicles or retail.
One day, while I was making dinner, my roommate asked me about whether or not I was still thinking about becoming an au pair. I had completely forgotten that I ever wanted to do that (although I have since I was a kid), or that I had told her about it being on my bucket list. But I thought, “What the hell? I have nothing else going on in my life right now. Why not see what happens?”
I hopped on Google and typed in “Becoming an au pair” and clicked on the first link that came up – a site called AuPairWorld. When I first started filling out the profile, I did it as kind of joke. I didn’t think I would get any responses, and I had no hopes about finding a family. But, within 24 hours, I had three families asking for more information and whether I would Skype with them. I couldn’t believe it!
I set up some interviews with families and found some amazing people, but it wasn’t until a few days later that a family in a little town south of Paris sent me a message. They seemed like the sweetest family on earth, and as soon as I had Skyped with them I was sure that they were the family for me. Although the glamour of living directly in Paris seemed like it would be a great experience, I remembered how overwhelming London was for me, and I knew that the countryside was a better fit.
Becoming an au pair in France is a lot harder than it sounds. There are mountains of paperwork, hurdles to jump over and red tape to tangle yourself in. But, through it all, I’ve been so lucky to have an amazing French family to work with. I feel so empowered knowing that I’m taking a directional step in my life; one that is going to produce boat loads of stories to tell my kids someday.
If you’ve ever considered becoming an au pair, I would highly suggest the website I went through. It’s completely free to make a profile, and provides a platform for you to meet families, and for you to talk to them beforehand in a safe space. If nothing else, it’s an awesome opportunity to see what your options are!
It’s crazy to think that six months ago I had no idea where my life was headed, and now I’m on my way to Europe. Sometimes crazy things, like getting laid off, land you in places you never thought you’d be. But the beauty of life, is that those places sometimes lead to better opportunities than you could have imagined.