all about ME (as per usual)

I know that most of my readers are friends and family and therefore know me pretty well! However there are some pretty random facts about me that may not be known by many of you. So here I go..

  1. My middle name is Joanne, which is the name of my aunt. It is also the female form of the name Joseph, which my family has about 100 of.
  2. My favourite food is tacos. I am a firm believer that no taco is complete without tomatoes and sour cream
  3. The thought of having children makes me sick *gag. No offence.
  4. I have been to 16 countries and I plan on visiting 20 by the time I turn 20.
  5. In September I will be going to school to become an accountant.
  6. Math was my worst subject in high school, so we’ll see how it goes.
  7. I constantly tell stories about my sisters but I always forgot to mention which sister I’m talking about.
  8. My family calls me Princess Julia. You can’t make this stuff up.
  9. I can drive manual but it stresses me out BIG TIME. Automatic will always be my favourite.
  10. I keep a journal and I try to write in it every night. I started journalling because I wanted to buy Kate Spade journals.. lame, but true.
  11. I hate cleaning but I loveeeeeeee organising.
  12. Two of my biggest hobbies are online shopping and makeup. They often go hand in hand.
  13. When I was in Uganda, the most recent time, I read one novel a day for five days. I could read a good book allllll day.
  14. I love the guitar but cannot play it, not even remotely.
  15. I can play the piano though!! (kinda)
  16. I have a coin collection, which I completely forgot about until this very instant.
  17. Peanut butter is my definition of paradise.
  18. I have ridiculously expensive taste for a current poor au pair and a soon to be poor college student.
  19. My list of countries I want to visit is just as long as my list of countries that I have already visited. I’m just getting started, people!!
  20. My entire extended-immediate family is a whopping 12 people.
  21. My favourite stores are thrift stores.
  22. My ideal guy is tall and has a nice smile, everybody who knows me knows this.
  23. Dog over cats EVERYDAY of the week.
  24. I once made my friend Patrick drive 3 hours to go get ice cream with me.
  25. Buying gifts for people is one of my favourite things in the world.

 

That’s it folks. 25 random facts that you may or may not have already known about me. You’re welcome.

Afreaking love Africa

Afreaking love Africa, I freaking love Africa, GET IT?!

On March 31, 2017 at 3:00am I left my cozy apartment  in the outskirts of Paris and began my journey to Mityana, Uganda. The whole trip there including took me about about 20 hours, which wasn’t TERRIBLE. It wasn’t great but it certainly could have been worse.

In Uganda I had the most incredible experience. It was so amazing getting to spend time with my Ugandan friends and it was just as great getting to meet so many new friends. My trip consisted of building relationships with people, reading the Bible with a new believer, handing out 100s of sweets to young children, visiting people in the hospital, dancing with the cutest kids ever, falling in love with every baby I laid eyes on, blessing people with the money that people so graciously donated to me, visiting a church, and just doing everything I could to bless the people of Uganda while in turn being blessed 1000x over. My trip forced me out of my comfort zone on so many occasions and for that I am so grateful.

The couple that I stayed with have an AMAZING organisation, “Helping Cope Through Hope”. The work that they do, in not only Uganda, but also Peru and Zambia is incredible. It truly leaves me speechless. If you would like to learn more about their mission please click here.

Here are just a few of my favourite photos from this (almost three week) adventure.

family heritage

The final leg of my mother and my voyage was to Tallinn, Estonia. This is a place that is very dear to our hearts seeing as her father, my grandfather, is Estonian. I actually had the opportunity to visit his homeland with him a few years ago. It was an experience that I hold dear to my heart and am extremely grateful for. Unfortunately my mom never had the chance. Writing this is extremely difficult for me because, it was just two years and three days ago that my Papa left this world. Spending time with my mom in such  beautiful and significant country was the highlight of my trip. I could go on forever, which would bore you all to tears so instead I will simply share a few of my favourite photos.

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** I suppose it wasn’t really the final leg seeing as we did explore Paris together before she left. Howeverrrr I now consider Paris to be home so it was the end of my voyage.

Stockholm feels like home

As soon as my mother and I landed in Sweden I knew it was love. There is something unique about Stockholm, something that I can’t really put my finger on. We were in Stockholm from February 11th until February 14. In those few short days we were able to explore Stockholm and see lots of different things. My mom has a few friends in Stockholm so we were able to get a few (free) tours from locals.

One of my favourite activities that we did was visit the Vasa Museum. If you don’t know what Vasa is you should really check it out! It’s such an interesting event that occurred in Sweden and the museum was amazing!! If you ever find yourself in the area you should 100% check it out!! (also this restaurant Bun Meat Bun was so so so good)

 

We also checked out the ABBA museum, which was surprisingly interesting. I honestly had know idea who ABBA was until we were on the way to the museum. After my mom sang the Mamma Mia songs I knew at least a few of their songs. In Stockholm I noticed that there are a lot of really cool bars and cafes that have an underground area. My mom and I had some coffee and sweets in this cave cafe and it was definitely the highlight of my day!

In Stockholm I had the opportunity to meet some of my cousins (that I didn’t even really know I had). It was such an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have met these fantastic people. Stockholm was such a beautiful place. I hope that next time I’ll be able to spend more than a few days exploring the city.

 

It’s a dreary day here in Paris, so reminiscing while listening to Ed Sheehan’s new album is the perfect way to spend the day.

london calling

One of the many things I love about living in the *GPA is the fact that there are so many school vacations! These vacations area  great opportunity for my favourite thing, travelling. This year the February scholar vacation was from February 4th until February 19th. I had originally planned on going from London from the 4th to the 10th but then my mom decided she was going to join me and take me on a little journey hopping around Europe. This blog post is just going to be about London but, stay tuned for posts about Stockholm and Tallinn.

I took the train from Paris to London on Saturday, February 4th. The train ride was longer than I expected just because I forgot there was a one hour time difference between Paris and London. It was still only about 3 hours, which is really not long at all.

On the Sunday I explored all of the touristy things. I had a great morning walking around Buckingham, Big Ben, and the London Eye. For lunch I ate at the SouthBank food market which is tucked in near the London Eye. There were so many amazing looking options all at a reasonable price.

Out of all the places I went to in London by favourite was most definitely Camden Market. It was this really cool area with a lot of street art, unique stores, and of course the food market. I was so surprised at how in love with this area I was. Here are just a few snaps. Also this Mac & Cheese was amazing. The place was called The Mac Factory and it was PHENOMENAL. 10/10 would recommend. I also explored Soho on this day and it was perfection. Camden and Soho were just so amazing. They made for the most incredible day.

On Tuesday I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and also to the Science Museum (which was right across the street). These museums both had free admission, which was a definite bonus. I would definitely recommend the Science museum over the V&A! After exploring those museums I started to meander down to the Apollo Victoria Museum to see “Wicked”. It was honestly the most amazing show I have ever seen. The vocals blew me away. I’m so happy I decided to go and see it! On the way to the theatre I stumbled across the (semi)famous Harrods. It was truly spectacular to look at, the window displays were all beyond stunning.

On Wednesday I had a short day. I walked around London Bridge and Tower Bridge. I ate at the Borough Market which was not disappointing. I sat in a Starbucks and read for an hour or so and then I headed home.

My mom arrived on Thursday early afternoon! After she got settled at the place we were staying we ventured out! I was happy to see my mom, but I was also happy to finally get some photos of me… Thursday and Friday we spent exploring the city and hanging out with our family friends. It was such an amazing time and London now officially has a piece of my heart.

On Saturday morning we left for our next adventure, Stockholm, Sweden.

*Greater Paris Area

** Definitely not a thing but if it works for Greater Toronto Area, why not with Paris?

*** This neon sign is the actual definition of me..

home sweet home

As an au pair your host family needs to provide you with accommodations. For some it is simply a room in their family’s house and for others it is their own studio apartment. The first four months I spent in France, I was living in a bedroom in my family’s house. As of January 1, I have been living in my own little studio. Although it is small I still absolutely love it! Here are a few photos.

I apologise in advance for the terrible lighting and lack of decorations, it is what it is.

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how to avoid making decisions 101

How has it already been 5 months? It seems like I was boarding a plane to Paris just yesterday. I am so sad that my time here is flying by. I’m sad because I truly have fallen in love with France, the language, culture, food, people, and everything else it has to offer. My life in the outskirts of Paris feels right, I feel at home. As my time here is almost 50% done I am starting to think about next year and what the HECK I am going to do with my life.

I have quite a few options.The two main options are go home and attend post secondary school or stay in France for another year. However, these two options melt into even more options. I have been accepted to almost all of the schools I applied to, I am just waiting to hear back from one university. So which school, which program, which city are all questions I need to process. As for staying in France I could renew my contract with my current family or I could accept a job that was offered to me by another family. As I think about next year and all the important life decisions I have to make I find myself becoming completely overwhelmed. I know that eventually I will have to make a few decisions but as for now I am avoiding them at all costs. From personal experience here are the most affective ways to do just that.

  1. watch Gossip Girl
  2. write a random blog post about something that is not that interesting (or useful)
  3. spend hours colouring in an adult colouring book
  4. bake chocolate cupcakes
  5. eat mentioned chocolate cupcakes.
  6. look up all of the French “gros mots” aka swear words
  7. plan elaborate vacations that you will never be able to go on because one week costs half of your annual salary
  8. plan your sister’s wedding, even though it isn’t for another year and a half
  9. FaceTime your sister just to talk to your dog
  10. watch more Gossip Girl
  11. look at funny memes and tag your friends in them

*all scientifically proven to help in avoiding decision making.

life update

I know I haven’t blogged in while (16 days to be exact), but I haven’t really had anything “blog worth” happen. So I decided just to give you all, or at least those of you who care, a quick update on how January has been thus far.

Although nothing too remarkable has happened it has still be an amazing start to the year.  I just recently applied to universities and colleges for this upcoming September. I applied for 8 different programs at 6 different schools (all in Ontario). All the programs I applied to are in the business/accounting field. I thought that taking this year off would really solitify my plans for next year, however I am still unsure if I really want to be an accountant. I guess only time will tell.

In January I also started tutoring English. I tutor two young boys for 1.5h a week. It pays really well and is not too far from home, so basically the perfect gig. It is very easy (considering the children are already bilingual) and it forces me to not waste my Saturday mornings in bed. ALSO, I don’t know very many au pairs who wouldn’t like making an extra 100 Euro a month. In the first week of January I decided to book a trip to London, England. In February there is a two week scholar vacation, in which I am not needed to work. I will be taking the train to London and spending one week there, with family friends. I have not quite decided what I will be doing for the second week. Any ideas?

On Friday the 13th my best friend/sister got engaged to the love of her life. I was out with friends when I got a FaceTime call at 3:30 in the morning telling me the good news. I was the VERY FIRST person they called, so I’m kinda a big deal.

The most recent thing to happen is my Auntie Jo arriving in Paris. She arrived yesterday and will be staying until Sunday. Paris is her favourite city in the world and I cannot wait to explore it with her.

As for the whole “au pair thing”, work is going really well. I feel like I have 100% gotten the hang of it. A fun little story for you..Yesterday I asked Theo to put his dishes away after dinner and he said no. He then challenged me to a game of rock paper scissors, loser has to clean/clear the table for the rest of the week. I saw this as a win/win because normally I do it by myself every.single.day. I ended up beating him (obviously) and so now he has to do dishes for the rest of the week. #aupairwin.

**Most importantly this January I started watching Gossip Girl and have FALLEN in LOVE with it, it is amazing. That is all.

Here are just a few photos taken in the past few weeks.

 

Thank you for all of your constant love and support.

 

home for the holidays

On December 19, 2016 I made the long(ish) journey from Paris, France to Montreal, Canada. I was picked up in Montreal by my parents and together we drove 5 hours until I was finally home. At home I was greeted by my two lovely sisters Brianna, who is two years older than I am and Tori, who is two years younger than me. We see each other as not only sisters but also best friends (at least that’s how I see it and they better feel the same way).

At home I was extremely busy, I think I spent three days out of the ten? days actually at home. Despite my extreme exhaustion, it was still an amazing time. I was able to get together with all of my family and a lot of my closest friends.

A few highlights were seeing my childhood best friend Ashley on Christmas night, going on a breakfast date with my soul sister Abby, spending time with Patrick, spending boxing day with my best friend and her family (Bassingthwaite’s), hanging out with Lauren and her brother (I guess), running into my family’s closest friends, the Londons, my single hour spent with Gabi, and seeing my dad’s side of the family which I normally see only once or twice a year. I also enjoyed every second spent with my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents, parents, and sisters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really realise how much I missed my parents until I saw them again.

(Some of my friends from high school also planned a little surprise get together for me that I actually wasn’t able to attend, but I was still touched).

I can’t put into words how much all my friends and family mean to me. I am so loved and supported and it truly means the world to me. I absolutely love the Christmas season and I felt so blessed to have been able to come home for the holidays. After four months of being away  it was great to be able to spend time with all of my favourite people.

 

p.s I am writing this in my brand new studio. I would love to do a little “apartment tour” if anybody is interested. Just let me know.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and I would love to hear your stories.

best friends (foreva)

I have been immensely blessed with my friendship with Jasmine. She is kind, generous, forgiving, loving, and so much more. On December 12th I had the pleasure of picking her and her mother up from the CDG airport (in Paris). They stayed at a nice little airbnb in a quaint town fairly close to where I live. I was a little nervous seeing as it was my first time acting as a “tour guide”. I showed them around most of the touristy areas that Paris is known for (Notre Dame, Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Tour Eiffel, Musée de Louvre, and obviously Disney). We were able to get rose shaped gelato, eat delicious crepes, and eat some fresh churros. Considering I normally follow my friends around Paris and am never in charge of navigating, I think I did a pretty great job.

Having my best friend in Paris was  absolutely amazing and it was an experience of a lifetime. Here are just a few snapchats from the amazing week we had together.