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.

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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.

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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the 5 phrases every French au pair knows

Learning a new languages one of the more difficult things I have ever done. It is an exhausting journey filled with “oh I finally understand this” to “what the hell?!?” to even  “there is no way they are speaking French right now, maybe it’s Spanish? German? Mandarin?” (in case you were wondering 11 times out of 10 it’s French).

Whether you speak french fluently or not at all here are the top 5 “need to know”phrases/ words that au pairs know just as well as any English phrase. Just as a side note, this list consists of phrases that you may need to say to your children and phrases that you may hear your children say to each other every 30 seconds.

  1. Tais-toi which is equivalent to shut up. Although I *never* ever * say this to my children I swear to you I hear this phrase at least 7 trillion times a day. Normally whenever my 13 year old guy says, he is either extremely annoyed at his sister or he is trying to get her to not tell their parents that he hit her. Whenever my 8 year old says it she is normally  being haughty. Either way this is the #1 phrase ever French au pair either needs to know or already knows (a little too well).
  2. Connard  aka asshole. I know that the translate says it means asshole but I think that the ACTUAL translate is a little tiny bit more mild. This word is normally said when describing bad drivers, stupid people in general or when my kids are arguing (which normally only happens as SOON as a parent returns home). In fact, tais-toi and connard often go hand in hand.
  3. Dépêche-Toi / hurry up. This is the French phrase that I personally use the most. My 8 year old walks painfully slow, takes the longest showers, eats like a turtle, and takes 10.5 years to change her clothes. It is for those very reasons that this phrase has become my “go to”. It’s a definite must know in my opinion.
  4. Que ce qui se passe or in english what is happening. My children never really say this phrase but I whisper it to myself multiple times a day. I mostly say it  when my children start fighting for no reason, I’m confused in French class, I’m watching French commercials, or when I’m driving (French people are crazy).
  5. Ce n’est pas grave which means it’s okay/ it’s not serious. I say this phrase quite often, as does my boy. Normally we say it when my girl gets herself in a fit for no apparent reason “oh don’t worry, ce n’est pas grave”.  I also say it to my friends when I spend foreverrr waiting for them *cough cough Molly & Alice EVEN THOUGH IT IS très grave!!

So there you have it. There are lots of other little phrases that I feel are important to know (such as basic manners and questions) but strictly from an au pair’s perspective these ones are the ones I can guarantee every au pair living in France knows, or will know in the VERY near future

patience is a virtue

I am generous (mostly), I am passionate, I am dedicated, and I am a good friend. I am a lot of things, but at the same time there are lots of things that I am not. I am not easy-going, I am not particularly kind, and I am certainly not patient. Whenever somebody says the well known expression, “patience is a virtue” I always mentally say, “a virtue that I just don’t possess”. It really is terrible. I roll my eyes when people aren’t promptly on time, I huff when I am asked to wait, and I avoid lines at all costs.

Being here in France has taught me more about patience than I ever thought possible. I find myself constantly waiting for one thing or another and I definitely don’t hate it as much as I used to. I have compiled a small list of things that I now wait for regularly which low key annoys the hell out of me (but I’m working on that, don’t worry).

  1. bus and RER and tram and train and uber and and and. IT NEVER STOPS. Unfortunately the bus that I take for school comes only once every half hour. Which is especially annoying when I arrive five minutes early only to find out the bus decided to arrive six minutes early. I feel like I am constantly waiting for transportation, which I am not used to seeing how in Canada I just drove myself everywhere (or my ever so gracious parents drove me around).
  2. children. I get off my bus at 4:15 everyday right outside of my girl’s school (which finishes at 4:30). The timing is pretty much perfect, except for the fact that her class is never actually dismissed until 4:45 or later. It’s terrible. I also have to spend an hour waiting for her at horseback riding once a week. Not only that but children truly do “test your patience”. Whether it be by having to explain something multiple times, never cleaning up after themselves, or just by constantly bickering.
  3. my apartment. When I took this job as an au pair I was told that I was going to have my own studio in my family’s garden. It was originally supposed to be finished on September 1, then the 2nd week of September, then November 1, so on and so forth. Needless to say the apartment is STILL not finished so I am still “patiently” waiting. (The good news it it will definitely be finished by December, yay).
  4. French Bureaucracy. Holy Hell, I can not begin to tell you how difficult the French are with all of their bloody paperwork. I just finalised my OFII (Visa stuff) yesterday after being here for almost 3 months!! I feel like there is definitely a faster system.
  5. friends. I have pretty great friends, we are unorganised but I guess that’s all part of the fun? ANYWAYS, whenever we decide to head into Paris I normally meet them on the train because I live a few stops away from them. In saying that they never get on at the time they are supposed to so I end up having to wait in the cold for 30 minutes to an hour. I definitely wouldn’t mind it as much if there was a way to wait inside and not in the freezing cold weather.
  6. language. This one has probably been the hardest for me to deal with. I have no idea why, but I had this unrealistic expectation that after a month of living in France I would be almost fluent in French. It has been three months and that is the furthest thing from reality. My French has definitely improved, but it is difficult, tiring, frustrating, and it takes a lot of patience and effort.

Patience is something that being in France has forced me to work on and I can definitely see small improvements in my attitude towards waiting around. Patience is something that I feel like I will never master. I need to continue to working on it, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

 

 

 

happy, happy, happy

My dad, being the weirdo that he is, enjoys watching the show “Duck Dynasty”. One of the characters in this show has a catch phrase, which is, “happy, happy, happy”. That is exactly how I have been feeling since moving to France.  Happy. It honestly feels like I have been living a dream. My friends are all amazing, Paris is beautiful, my family is fantastic, and I truly have never been happier.

Today was one for the books. It started off with a group of au pairs meeting up at Angelina for “lunch”. Angelina’s is an extremely popular (and expensive) restaurant known for their chocolat chaud. I honestly cannot begin to describe to you how RICH and thick this hot chocolate is. It is truly impossible to explain. That being said, if you ever find yourself in Paris it is definitely something you should check out. Just beware that there most likely will be a queue.

After that I headed over to the Aquarium of Paris in order to take “my kids” on a little adventure. Today, being November 11th, is a bank holiday for France. On bank holidays almost all of the stores are open but all large offices are closed. This means that my host parents had the day off. I offered to do something with the kids in order for them to be able to run some errands. The Aquarium was surprisingly small but it was fun none the less. Although, I am fairly confident that I had a better time than the kids.

After we were done with the aquarium we ate crepes while sitting in front of the Eiffel Tour. It was amazing, it felt like the epitome of everything Parisian. After that I bought some flowers for my host mom and the kids and I headed home. It was a great day, and an awesome start to my long weekend.

adulting? kind of? help?

Not going to lie, in the two months and five days that I have been in France as an au pair a lot has changed. I have had to grow up and become “an adult” (wipes away tears). BUT ACTUALLY.

The most obvious way I have grown up is the fact that I am responsible for people other than myself. I have to take care of two other people, TWO. I make sure they get home from school, do all of their homework, eat, shower, don’t kill each other, brush their teeth get to all of their 30,000 activities on time, make sure they get to bed on time, and MAKE SURE THEY DON’T KILL EACH OTHER. To be perfectly honest with you I never do all of my homework, I often forget to eat, and I am always late for everything the list of my downfalls goes on and yet here I am making sure everybody else’s life stays put together.

I am going to try to explain these next two without sounding too much like a princess, bare with me here. Basically what I want to explain is the fact that I was fortunate enough to pay for very little of my costs. My phone bill, car, gas, car insurance, and other random expenses were paid for by my parents (which I am so grateful for). I always had an allowance and although I worked and saved money I didn’t really have to think or worry about it that often. Moving to France has changed that. I am trying to do this as independently as possible which to me means without relying on my parents finances. I know, I know, “welcome to the real world”. I have it great here as I don’t have any real “bills” to pay other than my phone bill. However when it comes to random things such as; personal hygiene products, museum tickets, clothing, vacation costs, and school supplies I have to pay for them. I am now paying for things that I never would have had to pay for before. It really pains me every time I have to fork out €50+ for an “unexpected” cost. Although I must admit this experience is making me understand the importance of tracking finances and budgeting.

The second “princessy” thing has to do with my car…Let me start this off by reminding you that I live in Canada (which as you probably all know gets HELLA cold in the winter). In saying that, it is necessary for you to “preheat?” your car and remove the snow from your windshield and windows. Sometimes you even have to dig your car out of the snow!! The point of this is that this week it got pretty chilly here in France so I had to de-ice my car.. WHICH despite the fact that I live in Canada I am not used to doing. My dad is an absolute sweetheart and so often times when I got in my car in the morning my dad had already gotten in all prepared for me (thanks dad). I miss that. Waking up early to turn your car on and de-ice your windshield is practically the epitome of “adulting”.

Just incase you are wondering this what my car after a fairly light Canadian snowfall…. img_6931

On a kinda similar note THE FREAKING DISHWASHER. In Canada I *almost* always put my dishes in the dishwasher but I probably only emptied the dishwasher once a week (if that). Here in France, I empty it every. single. day. I feel like I just assumed the dishwasher was only run once a week?? Now I know that it ran 24/7 my mom just emptied it every day. lol, thanks mom. All that to say, I went from someone who was fairly tidy but not great to someone who not only has to PERFECTLY clean up after myself but also after two  (sometimes 3) other people!

It’s currently 11:30 pm and I can’t think of anything else to write even though I am sure there is more. So I will leave it at that. I haven’t fully decided if “adulting” is a good thing or a terrible thing. Let me know what you think!

ALSO ON A VERY EXCITING NOTE I HAVE CHANGED MY PLANS AND AM NOW COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. YAY

happiest place on earth (x2)

This past weekend was definitely one of my favourite ones thus far. It was extremely busy yet SO much fun. On Friday night I did absolutely nothing, which was great. My friend Alice introduced me into this Netflix original show called “Outlander” and I’m addicted. It’s the COMPLETE opposite of what I would normally watch but,  I’m loving it. Basically what I’m getting at is that I watched it all Friday night.

I woke up at 5:30 on Saturday ew in order to catch all of the necessary buses and trains that would ultimately take me to Disney. Yay. I absolutely loveeee Disney and since I live in Canada I unfortunately have only been a few times. This was however my very first (and definitely not last) time at Disney, Paris. The reason I wanted to go so badly was because it is approaching Halloween and I absolutely love love lovee Halloween decorations. The first things my friends and I did was buy some super cute Mini Mouse ears, obviously a necessity.

Unfortunately the day was a little bit chilly but that was a perfect excuse to pick up some hot chocolate. The hot chocolate cost an arm and a leg but you only live once? I guess? It was so good. We ate lunch at Disney as well and it was by far the GROSSEST thing I have ever attempted to eat. Think of airplane food but like way worse (I didn’t even know that was possible). I mean I was quite hungry and that little bite took me 15 minutes to eat (and it’s all I could eat). Plus, the service was terrible.. like atrocious. Yes, I am over dramatic but STILL. So, if you ever find yourself at Disney, Paris avoid “Victoria’s Home Style Restaurant” at ALL COSTS.

Okay, just a few more Disney photos and then I’ll move on to Sunday.

 

Okay, so onto Sunday. I basically slept the morning away because a full day at Disney left me beyond exhausted. I was really excited though when my host mom invited me to the Foundation Luis Vuitton. In case you don’t know what it is, it’s an art museum and cultural centre which opened in 2006. The building itself is a beautiful work of art. There is a new exhibit entitled “Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection”which is only running from October 22, 2016 to February 22, 2017. This collection pays tribute to Sergi Shchukin, a Russian collector of French modern art. The exhibit consists of 130 masterpieces from Shchukin’s collection. I personally know almost nothing about art but I was still in awe of all of the beautiful pieces I was able to see. I would definitely recommend checking this exhibit out if you have the opportunity. The only thing I recommend is buying the tickets online because if not you may be stuck in the line for a few hours! (Also if you like Picasso’s this is the exhibit for you, there were so many)

 

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So that was my exciting weekend. I am absolutely loving Paris and everything it has to offer.

things I miss

Living abroad has been amazing thus far. I have great friends, a great host family, and I’m living in a beautiful country. In saying that there are little things that I often find myself missing. Here’s a list, just incase you’re wondering. After the first one they aren’t in any particular order!

  1. my family my mom would kill me if this wasn’t at the top of my list. I do miss my family but I have yet to become homesick. So I miss them, just not like THAT MUCH.
  2. books. I stupidly didn’t bring any (because they are so dang heavy). This one’s an easy fix though.
  3. music. I am by no means “musically gifted” but I really miss playing the piano and singing (especially with my sisters).
  4. Shoppers drugmart/ Walmart. I need huge stores that carry literally everything. I have yet to find one of those. Apparently there is one close to my house so I’ll have to check it out.
  5. Jasmine (and her mom)(and the rest of the family I guess)
  6. McDonalds. It’s not that there isn’t Mcdonalds in France it’s just that it’s absolutely TERRIBLE.
  7. Glory. I miss my little puppy who is apparently HUGE. LIKE LOOK AT THAT FACE.IMG_5798.JPG
  8. working out. I miss going to the gym, especially since I always went with my family.
  9. cuddling. I miss forcing my sisters and best to cuddle with me. (I know they secretly didn’t hate it).
  10. mirrors. There is not a full length mirror in my house. I have seen my full reflection a handful of times in 2 months. (sorry to my friends)
  11. TACOS. They are my absolute favourite food and I have yet to have one. If anybody knows of any good tacos in Paris PLEASE let me know!!
  12. the office. My Netflix switched to the France one and now I no longer have the office. It’s devastating.
  13. sisters. They deserve their own point because I miss them the most.
  14. my own space. If anyone has ever lived with another family you understand this. It’s not that my family has excluded me or that I don’t feel comfortable it’s just not the same.
  15. ice-cream. In Canada I worked at a little store, Slickers (world’s greatest ice-cream store) and I really miss it. Ugh especially the campfire flavour.
  16. I miss my dad. I talk to my mom everyday over FaceTime or iMessage but my dad doesn’t have an iPhone or Facebook so I NEVER talk to him. lame, right?
  17. spare. I miss having spare and watching tv shows and movies with some friends.
  18. reese’s peanut butter cups
  19. my cars. Okay, so they were my parents cars that they so gracious let me use but still. I really miss how spacious they were and the fact that they all had aux chords 😦 \
  20. sushi. I know there has to be some good sushi restaurants around but I just haven’t been to one.(p.s anybody want to go with me?)
  21. church. I really miss going to church which is weird because I never really LOVED going.I feel like it’s one of those “you never really know what you have until it’s gone.” type situations. This one’s an easy fix though!
  22. understanding people’s conversations. Obviously after two months I am not fluent YET so there is still a language barrier. It’s definitely smaller but it’s still there.
  23. fall. Canadian fall is the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s not that it isn’t pretty in Paris but it’s not the same.
  24. mom. Need I say more? 

If any of you have ever lived abroad what were some of the things you missed? ALSO stay tuned for a second part about things I DON’T miss.

VACATIONNNNN!!!

The title is a little misleading as I am still woking and I don’t leave for my vacation until Monday the 24th BUT I finished school today and I’m clearly pretty happy about it. I’m sorry for not writing recently but I haven’t really had much to talk about it. I guess that’s important to write about as well, I wouldn’t want you guys to think it’s all fun and games over here 😉

In saying that, my weekend was basically all fun and games, so I’ll tell you about that. Obviously there are like 7 billion of museums and monuments in France and since I’m here I want to see them all. One of the most famous French museum is le Louvre (duh). SO I decided to organise a trip with three other au pairs for this past Saturday morning. Unfortunately I was over an hour late for my event and Lynn ended up being over four hours late typical (Lynn has a blog as well which I highly recommend checking out. You can find it here). It all worked out though as my Jenny patiently waited for Ana and I (Jenny you’re a Saint). When we FINALLY got to the Louvre we took some typical photos and walked around the museum for three(ish) hours. I didn’t realise how massive le Louvre is until I spent three hours walking around only a small fraction of it.

After all the walking we headed over to Pizza Hut, a real Parisian delicacy, I know. After the late lunch came the real treat. Amorino gelato. Not only was it absolutely ADORABLE but it tasted divine. I highly recommend the lemon basil flavour.

Okay so after that we headed over to a bar for “Au Pair Speed Dating” which was just a large group of au pairs getting to know each other over a few drinks. Unfortunately the bar was closed so we ended up going to Monoprix (think Walmart but 1/100 the size) where everybody basically bought wine and junk food. After all the necessary supplies were purchased we walked over to la Seine. We sat there for a longg time, to be honest I don’t exactly know how long we were there but I know it was hours.

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(Im close close to the water looking in the opposite direction of the camera)

It was a great opportunity to meet a lot of amazing girls who are in the same boat as I am. ALSO I met my first Canadian since being here which was sick. And that was my Saturday.

On Sunday I woke up nice and early (yay for 4 hours of sleep) to bake chocolate chip cookies and apple pie. Not going to lie the cookies were a bit weird but I’m going to blame that on the lack of “normal” ingredients and the weird measuring system. I went to my mom’s friend’s house for lunch. She has three boys who are a few years younger than me but are the absolute sweetest. I’m actually going to their grandparent’s house with them for my vacation. I’m assuming it will be quite interesting so I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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Anyways the rest of this week should be a lot more relaxing (fingers crossed) and I’m already looking forward to my weekend. Which I’m hoping will include a trip to Disney!!