Au Revoir Barcelona… Oh wait, it’s Adios.

Last weekend I took a quick trip to Barcelona. I arrived at 12pm Friday night from Paris and left Sunday night at 8:00. It was not enough time to see everything. But, it was enough time to see that I want to return.

I took Spanish in high school. That was a waste of four years of my life. The basis of my vocabulary when I was in Spain was Si, Hola, Adios, Gracias, and De Nada. Barcelona, like Paris, is a big city with many tourists. So, getting by with only English was easy. The problem with me was the “French mode”that I was in. I would use Oui, Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci, and de rien more often that the Spanish words I know. It’s like when I came back to the States I instinctively said “Pardon”(in a French accent) when passing a lady in the airport. I added the “me” because I realized I was in America now. I had now become an 80 year old southern woman. So, the whole trip was me saying, “Oui, oh Si, ugh I’m sorry.” speaking 3 languages like an idiot.

P2251283.JPGNow, enough about my horrible language skills. Let’s talk about the highlight of the trip. Sagrada Familia. Now, if you have never heard about Sagrada Familia, this is a link to their website here Sagrada Familia. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudis masterpiece that has been under construction since the late 1800s. I have seen a lot of Cathedrals and Basilicas in Europe. However, this one is so detailed that it is going to be hard to beat in my mind. Everything was thought out and has a meaning behind it.

There is a Nativity side and a Passion side of the Basilica. On the Nativity Side there are three doors. Jesus in the middle, Joseph to the left, and Mary on the right

The Passion Side has columns that that are meant to look like muscles. The carvings are deliberately made to be more square or rough on this side because of what it represents.

 

The inside of the basilica was modeled after a forest. Gaudi made the columns on the inside look like huge trees. The side of the church where the sun rises has huge stained glass windows in cool tones. And the side where the sun sets is in warm tones. The light reflecting inside the Church is really what you notice. Colors dancing on all of the walls.

 

 

I took the lift up to the tower on the Passion Side of the Basilica. I researched when I bought my ticket and that at side is supposed to have a better view of Barcelona. The view was amazing! I also think the line was longer for the tower on the Nativity side. So, if you are going, maybe choose the Passion side. Overall Sagrada Familia was my favorite part of the trip because it just blew my mind. I just kept thinking about how Gaudi got thousands of people to commit for hundreds of years to his vision. He just designed something so ambitious and people are still trying to achieve his goal. Amazing.

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My favorite picture from Sagrada Familia

Saturday I needed to eat something. I had researched food in Barcelona before I left and discovered La Boqueria. It was was highly recommended by many websites and blogs. Mainly because of it’s fresh fruits and juices. Also the variety of vendors and food choices. This was a close call for my favorite thing in Barcelona. The atmosphere and the people were great. The juice was only 1 euro (at the small booth I found) Some were 1.50 euro. So, walk around a bit if you want to save money or find the best deal. There are so many vendors. Also, If you see something that looks good I suggest you get it at that moment. I saw a few things and thought, I’ll come back if I don’t find anything better to eat. After walking and not finding anything else, I couldn’t find those places even though I tried. I had to settle for some fried seafood that I didn’t really eat. But then I found some ice cream that was like heaven. So, overall it was a success.

The best thing about traveling by yourself and staying in a hostel is that you meet new people. Saturday night I got dressed and sat down in the common room. I was going to rest and then find a place for dinner. I ended up talking to some people and met a guy who was from Lafayette, LA. It really is a small world. I then had an invite to dinner and met three new people in the span of 10 minutes. That night we played drinking games with Sangria, and tons of people who were staying at the hostel joined.

Sunday I had a ticket to Park Güell for 10am. Waking up for a shower and everything before was tough because of the Sangria, but I made it there. If you don’t like to walk I suggest you take the bus from the Metro to Park Güell or take a taxi. The walk to Park Güell is about 15 minutes and it is not the easiest. It makes the views great but the walking includes going uphill. Although, the one thing I noticed in Barcelona is how Sagrada Familia and Park Güell would be easy for a handicapped or older person. Sagrada familia has ramps and an elevator for the towers. Park Güell has access to the front gate by taxi, and most of the going up you can do by ramp. That is very rare for Europe.

 

Park Güell was beautiful and the stone formations were very cool. The architecture of the buildings is interesting to look at and there is a great view. I don’t know if I would recommend going to Park Güell if you only have 2 days like I did. It is very time consuming and kind of out of the way. Very worth it if you have the time, though. I loved it. I also saw Casa Milà and Casa Batlló from the outside. I did not see the inside of Casa Batlló, but I wish I would have. The exterior was absolutely amazing. It was so interesting and cool.

Last but definitely not least, I went to Barceloneta Beach. The beach was very beautiful. There is a nice boardwalk that you can walk along to get there from the metro. There are restaurants and a big marina with huge sailboats. If you do not want to walk along the boardwalk, there is a bus that will take you strait to the beach. The bus stop is right by the metro, easily named Barcelonta. The walk is nice, but if you are crunched on time, the bus is a good option. After about a 20 minute walk you will make it to the beach. The beach in Barcelona was absolutely beautiful. I did not have the greatest experience because I decided to go touch the Mediterranean ocean. Well, the next thing I know, my jeans, shoes, and socks are soaked. So, I guess I have been in the Mediterranean ocean. It’s about the memories, right?

 

Overall Barcelona was an amazing trip. I discovered a new love of Gaudi and I made some new friends. I also answered the question Spain vs. France, which is better? I have no idea at this point. But Barcelona is a must visit if you are in Spain. It has the best of everything. Beautiful beaches, good food, nice people, great history, and amazing architecture. Definitely not as pretty as Paris, though. Every building is pretty here. I was asked about liking Paris because some people say it is dirty, which I have not noticed at all. I am told people love or hate Paris. My answer to this is that all big cities are dirty somewhere. Its like New Orleans. Don’t judge it based solely on Bourbon Street. FYI: Watch out for dog poop in Barcelona too. Except, it doesn’t make sense to me at all there because they actually have grass. So, It must be a European thing.

That’s all for now.

Besos,

Jolie

 

 

 

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An American in Normandy

Normandy was my first trip in Europe away from Paris. I went on a guided trip with EIAP-Sorbonne Nouvelle. This is a trip that is mainly for Erasmus students. (Erasmus is a EU student exchange program). The trip is also open for au pairs. I ended up being the only American on the trip. It was mainly Italian and Spanish students. Also, there a was a guy from Greece and another from Germany.

On this trip everyone spoke French to each other. My French is not great, yet. So, most of them could speak English to me. This just made me realize the difference in language skills of Europeans and Americans. We rely on English so much and do not stress the importance of learning a second language. I have spoken to people who have been studying languages for years. Many schools in America do not do that, but they should start. Anyways…

Normandy was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Even the bus ride was amazing. As soon as I saw the picturesque countryside, I had to add another thing to my bucket list. A road trip through France.

The first city visited was Honfleur. It is a very beautiful city with img_5896-2quaint streets and a marina. There was an open market and cafes right near the water. We ate lunch here and I got the recommended meal: Moules à la crème (Mussels with Cream) Which is a specialty in Normandy. If you like seafood and go to Normandy, get the Mussels. It was delicious. Make sure you order the correct thing. At first when everyone’s appetizers came out, I thought I had ordered incorrectly. We had all ordered the same entrée and I was looking around at plates of escargot and hoping that I was not getting that same plate. I didn’t! Thank you random French word that I somehow knew. Seriously, Moules? Why can’t all the normal words stay in my head?

 

img_5594-1After Lunch we headed to Deauville. There is a beach here with beautiful views of the hills. There are a lot of
shells on the beach. It reminded me of my recent trip to Florida. FYI, I tried to bring one of the shells back as a souvenir…FAIL. It broke into tiny pieces in my purse. So, I guess look for a thick shell if you do that. We also had some amazing crêpes at this place called Tutti Frutti. They have so many choices that you cannot go wrong.

After spending the evening there, we headed to Caen. This is where we stayed for the night. Before going out we took a walk to Caen Castle. It was founded by William the Conqueror in 1060. We walked to the top and had some great views of the city. The battery in my phone and Camera died at this point. Sorry, I have no pictures of any of this.

soro5276The next day we visited Mont St. Michel. There isn’t much to say about this. The magnitude of Mont St. Michel is still crazy to me. It reminded me of kings landing on Game of Thrones. It was actually the inspiration for the castle in Tangled, which got me excited. Does the fact that those are two of my favorite things to watch say something about me? I guess I really like castles. Or, I have very eclectic taste in cinema and television. Moving on now. I was not expecting a little village within MSM. It is something that you need to see if you have the time. Truly amazing.

My weekend in Normandy was wonderful. I got to meet a lot of people and see a few cities in France. I wish I could have had more time in each of them, though. I truly loved Normandy.

 

 

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin…

Berlin is a beautiful city filled with history. I really did not expect to love Berlin as much as I do. I think my overall experience was made great by the people I met as much as the city itself.

First of all, If you ever plan to go there make sure you have a way to get plenty of cash. Don’t plan on relying on your credit card. Many businesses only take cash. Also, ATMs are scarce. Berlin is behind on that. However, I love that all of the trains have Wi-Fi. So, basically once you figure out the train system you can connect to the BVG Wi-Fi. The trains are more complicated than I thought they would be. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are hard to understand at first. Also, there are a lot of trams that you can take, but they are not very reliable like the metro in Paris because of traffic. So, I walked A LOT in Berlin. I found it easier and sometimes it was the faster route.

Visiting Berlin is very intense. Everything you visit is beautiful, however I had this feeling of sadness when I looked around. An example is the Brandenburg Gate. It is the most famous monument in Germany. When I picture it, I also have a picture of Hitler marching through it in my mind. Also, it is a symbol of freedom in Berlin. It is still an iconic symbol of the Berlin wall coming down.

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Another thing I noticed is the architecture of Berlin. Most of the buildings in Berlin are fairly new, which is strange for Europe. A lot was destroyed in the war. So the architecture of most of the buildings is very plain. Then you will see something like the Berliner Dom that is absolutely amazing. There is so much history in every monument that still stands.

The history of Berlin and the Holocaust was very interesting and sad to learn. It’s not easy to take in. It’s something that I think everyone should do. I visited Sachsenhausen, a Nazi Concentration camp. There are tours for this, but most of them were for 6 hours total, with two hours of travel. I like tours, but I think if I would have spent 4 hours there it would have been too much. Entrance to Sachsenhausen is free. If you have an ABC train pass you can go outside of Berlin and it is only 3 Euro for the audio guide. you can then leave whenever you are done. Walking to the Gate was very strange because there are houses right next to the gate. Picture a small town row of cute houses with Sachsenhausen as the dead end. People are living in these houses. This was unsettling to me. However, the town Oranienburg is very nice.

 

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Sachsenhausen

 

 

I took a free walking tour and that was the best thing to do. I saw things I wouldn’t have gone to and returned to some that I wanted to see again. It is a tip based service. I gave him 5 Euros, and felt like it wasn’t enough because the guide was awesome. I didn’t have anymore cash because Berlin is the city of using cash for EVERYTHING.

We visited Checkpoint Charlie which was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. It was fun to learn about some American History that happened here too. There was a stand off between Soviet and U.S. Tanks over the travel documents of a U.S. diplomat. The tour guide also showed where the CIA and the KGB would have been stationed at the time to lookout at the checkpoint. There is also a place to take a picture with some “American” soldiers in uniform. It’s really just some German guys dressed up like American soldiers. It was very entertaining to watch people pay for photos with these guys.

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Checkpoint Charlie

 

I also saw some Nazi Architecture. Which was not on my list to see, but I’m glad I did see it. The guide took us to the former headquarters of The Third Reich. The building is like a prison, grey and cold. He also told of us Hitler’s plans for The Grand Dome (Germania). The Dome was to be 16 times bigger than St. Peters Basilica in Rome and to fit 150,000-180,000 people. Anyways…Hitler was FN crazy and on meth towards the end. He was planning to completely destroy Berlin as it was. If the war had ended differently, Germania was his plan. Thank God there is not a Germania.

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Headquarters of the Third Reich

 

Ok, enough about Nazi’s. They suck.

Berlin was actually a lot of fun! As much as the history sucks, the city is great. This is a classic case of your past doesn’t define who you are. Berlin has taken that and ran with it. I didn’t know that Berlin is a huge party city. The clubs and nightlife are a big part of the culture. There are clubs that people wait hours to get into. I know what you’re thinking. Why? Well, these clubs are open from Friday to Monday. I met one German girl who said the longest she stayed was 20 hours.

My favorite things about Berlin were the people I met. This was my first hostel and I had the best time. I met so many people that made this trip wonderful for me. The Berliner Dom was one of the highlights also. The interior of it is amazing and the view from the top is a 360 of Berlin.

 

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Berliner Dom

 

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Inside the Berliner Dom

 

Walking along the Wall at The East Side Gallery had to be the coolest thing I did. All of the art was interesting and beautiful. I remember seeing one that was a person going over the wall. You could only see a leg with a hand holding the foot. A friend I was with said to me “Do you think the hand is pushing them or pulling them down?” I was thinking pushing, but I will remember that painting forever. I took pictures of some of my other favorites.

 

The food in Berlin is also really good. I like that it is not ridiculously expensive. We went to a Pizza restaurant in Mitte where you could get a pizza for 4Euros. The German food was very good and the best beer I had was from the Brewery at the Circus Hostel. And weirdly enough, I learned that Berlin has a big Vegan population. So, for anyone with diet constraints this is the place to go. There is a large variety of good restaurants everywhere. I had awesome German, Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian.

Overall, Berlin was amazing and I would visit again if I didn’t have a list of about 300 more places to see. Next on the list for Germany: Oktoberfest in Munich.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I am a blog slacker.

I am not good at keeping up with this blog. Mainly because I have been busy these last two weeks. Also because I have been sick and it sucks. Being sick when you live in a foreign country is horrible. Thank God one of my host dads is a doctor, because all of the medicines here are totally different. The best thing I did when packing was bring my “favorite” medicines from the US. It’s getting better everyday, until I go to Paris and walk 3-7 miles and climb 15-19 flights of stairs. 🙂 That’s my average according to my iPhone.

Anyways…

I visited the Catacombs about two weeks ago. It is very interesting because you are right in the middle of Paris and then you just walk down some stairs, and bam here are the bones of 6 million people?  It wasn’t really on my list of things to see, but some girls were going to see it, and I didn’t have anything to do. I would say if you are coming to Paris for 2-3 days put it low on your list. But if you have time it’s cool to see. If you go be prepared to walk a lot and go up and down a lot of stairs.

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I also visited La Marais to go shopping and ended up walking to Notre Dame. This was a really nice day. I went to some vintage shops and looked at ton of clothes. The resale shops in Paris are good quality and packed with clothes. The problem for me is that some of them do not have places to try things on. When I was done looking and I didn’t want to carry anything for the rest of the day I saw that Notre Dame was close by. Meaning that I could see it so I figured I would walk there. The walk is BEAUTIFUL… here are some pictures.

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This past weekend I went to Nuit Blanche, which is a really cool event in Paris where places stay open late and they have special art installations and parties. I unfortunately was still feeling crappy so I didn’t stay out all night. I did, however, go to the Musée du Luxembourg when it would normally be closed. I was there from about 10:30-12:30 pm looking at the Fantin-Latour exhibit. The flowers that he painted are so realistic. The painting of the lilies is my favorite. Also, if you want to know what the guy looks like, he painted himself almost every year. Maybe a narcissist? IDK. I took the VERY LAST train back and FaceTimed Al at 2 am.

I also started school last week. My professors name is Anne. I told my host dad C that I had professor ANN and he did not understand me because I did not pronounce it AHN.:) In class everything is in French. Even when she gives us new vocabulary it is in French. Sometimes I can understand when the describes a French word with other French words, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Thankfully, all of the other girls are at the same level. The activities that we do in class are good. When I know I did 90% right and the 10% I’m not sure of, she will ask me to answer the 10% out loud. I think it is my face. I probably look so nervous when she gets to the 10%. Damn you ANN.

That’s about it for now.

Bonne Journée

Just call me Gigi!

I have been slacking on the blog lately. I really do need to do this more often so I can keep track of my time in France. The past two weeks have mostly been settling in and getting to know family and the kids  that I will be caring for. The kids(J&C) are finally getting used to me. They cannot say Jolie, so they call me Gigi.

I haven’t done many touristy things yet because I was busy, but this week I am going to try to do a lot. I want to go back to the Eiffel tower and take some time for pictures.

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I have found that I have already learned a lot about French culture in my two weeks living in France. I think I will be very comfortable here. I will feel much better once I start school, though. I need to study more French so I can speak a little better!

Some things I have learned so far:

French stereotypes: some are true, and some are not.

1.French people are dirty: not true for the most part. However, you do come across some B.O. on the metro. I know some Americans cannot get over the fact that women here do not shave their armpits. I was next to a woman on the metro who was holding onto the pole right next to me, and I could clearly see her armpit hair. She was clean and nicely dressed. I find its mostly men that stink. The family that I live with shower their kids twice a day. So, it depends on the person, not the nationality.

2.The French don’t eat a lot: The reason why Parisian women are skinny is because they walk everywhere. There is a book about how French women eat and it says they eat small portions of good food. Well, I thought maybe that was true because I live with two men(I’ll call them F&C) as my host family and they eat a lot. However, we went to lunch today and F’s mother ate an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. It was not small servings. She is a skinny Parisian woman. Every time I have gone to Paris I walk 5-6 miles. My family here is always telling me I do not eat enough. After dinner they eat cheese and then after cheese they eat cake. It’s a nice change from Americans who find not eating and being on a diet a good thing. Clean eating is the key.

3. French people are rude: This just depends on the person I guess. Most people I have come across have been very nice. I have gone to cafes and they spoke English with me. One waiter asked me if I would rather French or English, because he could tell I knew some of both. However, I smile way too much for Parisians. I am learning not to smile at random people on the street. It’s weird to do it here and you get unwelcome advances from French men. This is city for women with resting bitch face. Come here and you will fit in.

I have noticed a lot of other things while I have been here. French people like to eat very clean and the government invests a lot of money studying what goes into your food. Everything they eat is organic, just look for anything marked BIO in the French market. This is organic products. We eat fresh bread. The meat that the family gets is from the open market. The people who they buy it from say to eat it within 4 days, because there are no preservatives. I have had two different types of French Boudin. It is similar to Boudin from Louisiana, but they have different stuffing. One had apples in it and  was one of my favorite meals so far. As much as they like healthy food, they also love Pringles. Before lunch today, we had Champagne. The snacks with Champagne was mixed nuts and Pringles.

We should adopt the tradition of having Champagne before lunch on Sunday. It was very enjoyable for me. 🙂 I am learning a lot about wine. I tried a Porto, which is a Portuguese wine that is 19% concentrated. I had another wine from a region in Burgundy this week. There are so many regions in Burgundy, though. I forgot the name of this wine. Fun French wine fact: It is illegal in France to add sugar to the wine. The wine is only sweet because of the grape.

I also know why French people do not like dogs. There is dog crap everywhere. When you walk everywhere and you have to be aware and lookout to make sure you do not step in it, I get it. I was walking behind a Parisian woman and her dog on Thursday observing this. She let her dog pee on a trashcan, then the dog peed on someone’s car. I get it now. I understand that there is no grass, and its not like you can bring your dog to Luxembourg Gardens to go to the bathroom. I love dogs and I couldn’t imagine people not liking them, but it all makes sense now.

Tomorrow, I am meeting some au pairs for coffee. It will be a lot of us there and I think a few are going to my school. We are meeting at a café called Café Kitsune. It is in Le Palais Royal, which is near The Louvre. There are some Shops on Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre that I want to visit. I need a backpack for school. My school is in a very upscale neighborhood, so I could not get a backpack near there. To give you an idea, I walk past Lonchamp and Hermes on the way to school, and Chanel is down the street. It’s a nice walk for me.

I was asked if it is as beautiful in person. Yes, it is. I haven’t even seen a lot of Paris yet. My favorite place so far is Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. The view of the whole city from Sacré-Cœur is breathtaking. The musicians on the corners in Montmartre are quintessentially Parisian. The streets are small and a little confusing. This is the first place I had to ask where the metro was. I love it there.

I will try and write more often so I do not have to write a novel next time.

à plus tard

Jolie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing for Paris

The anxiety of packing was keeping me up tonight so I decided I would write. Packing for a year abroad is a monumental task. I laugh when I think about all the stuff I need to bring and all of the stuff I have to leave behind. Nervous laughter? It’s really overwhelming, but I know what I need and don’t need. The problem with packing for a year is that I sit here and I say to myself “What if I forget something?” over and over. I leave in 5 days. I still think it is crazy and I’m not sure if I will believe it until I am on the plane. I’m ready to go, yet I’m not ready at all.

I have compiled list of things to bring if you plan to live in a foreign country for a long period of time. I have read many lists. I find that some of them are lacking in some categories. Here is what I have learned from research. Here is my list and tips.

Packing list for living abroad (My Au Pair Packing List)

I have categorized this for convenience.

Electronics:

  • Cell Phone
  • Camera
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • (don’t forget chargers)

Converters: There are some converters on Amazon that are 3/7.99. They are specific to country. If you are living permanently  in a new place they are perfect.

Bathroom items:

  • Clear bag and containers that will let you pack liquids to last for 1-2 weeks
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shave cream
  • body wash
  • face wash
  • moisturizer
  • Razor (I just bought a bag of disposable b/c I think I will have to buy a new one)
  • feminine products
  • Toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • makeup
  • perfume
  • hairbrush
  • straightener
  • curling iron
  • Do not weigh down suitcase with hairdryer (Unfortunately, Hair dryers do not work as well with converters)

If you have favorite bathroom items that you cannot live without get extras.

Medicine: Prescription and those you use regularly.

Clothing Items:(May vary from person to person, but here are basics)

Basics:

  • Bras
  • underwear
  • socks
  • camisoles
  • pajamas
  • robe
  • tights

Tops:

  • T-shirts
  • Sweaters
  • blouses
  • Cardigans

Dresses/skirts: Based on preferences, not a necessity

Outerwear:

  • leather jacket
  • light jacket
  • sweatshirt
  • heavy coat
  • raincoat

Pants:

  • Jeans
  • Black pants
  • leggings

Shoes:

  • Sandals
  • Flats
  • Booties
  • Tall boots
  • Sneakers
  • slippers

Accessories:

  • Scarves
  • gloves
  • hats
  • jewelry
  • purses

Presents for host family

Carry on items for international flight

  • Prescription Medication
  • Essential Medication
  • Reading material
  • Activities to keep busy
  • Pillow
  • Blanket
  • Notebook or Journal an Pen
  • Camera & Charger
  • Laptop & Charger
  • Tablet & Charger
  • Phone & charger
  • Headphones
  • Wallet
  • Passport/Visa
  • Plane ticket
  • Papers for finishing visa process (if au pair in France OFII form)
  • Makeup
  • Face wipes
  • Baby powder or Dry shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Visine
  • Hair accessories
  • Hairbrush
  • Clear bag with liquids inside
  • Scarf
  • Ear plugs
  • Face mask
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel Toothbrush set
  • Snacks
  • Gum
  • Umbrella
  • Change of Clothes(In case your bags get lost or delayed)

A lot of the lists I see tell you how many of each thing to take. I plan on taking two suitcases and a carry on. I will be taking as much as I can fit in the suitcases. 🙂

Quick tips: get the Ziploc space bags. Also, there are many rolling and packing tips on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving the great state of Louisiana…

In 11 days I will be leaving for Paris, France. It is official, I have my visa and a one way plane ticket. I have been seeing a ton of posts about comments on the floods that say, “Why would you stay there?”My response to these people is that it’s all about the people around us. They don’t get it. Please don’t get angry at the people who live in places that just haven’t experienced southern hospitality. They don’t understand that neighbor helps neighbor. Our friends are family, and we try to treat everyone with kindness.

I am going to miss Louisiana, and it is even harder to leave now.When things like this happen in Louisiana, it makes me love my state even more. I see people doing things for others and not wanting for themselves. I see friends helping clean out houses and tearing down walls. I have friends who have flown down from other states to help other friends of mine. All I see is love, kindness, and respect. I am amazed at the people of Louisiana.

The one thing I have also noticed is that friends whose houses have flooded never stopped caring about those around them. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they still are making sure those around them are helped.We put others first, and that is why I love this state and the people so much. I had one friend message me on Facebook (while his house flooded) to say he couldn’t make it to my house that day for a going away party. He did have the wrong day, but he messaged me and told me that even though there was 4 feet of water in his home. Another friend of mine had about a foot of water in her house. As soon as I found out I asked if I could help. Her first response to me was, “No, no. You have to pack.” The fact that these people around me care so much makes me wish I had more ways to help. C’mon Powerball…ugh I have to buy tickets for that to work.

In closing, all I want to say is I have some amazing friends and family. You all make me sad to leave Louisiana. Yet, you are the ones who push and encourage me to go. This State is strong and resilient. I am glad to call Louisiana home.

 

Love is all you need.
Photo Credit: Dustin Clouatre

 

Love is all you need,

Jolie

And so it begins…

I finally made it to the French Consulate in Houston to apply for my visa today. I should get the visa in 5-15 days according to the French man behind the glass. He said, “Your name is Jolie Hebert?” obviously it was to clarify for visa purposes. However, the facial expression that was added was not necessary.

I am one step closer to officially being an Au pair in Paris. It is a long process and there is a lot of paperwork included to get to the final visa appointment. But, once I got to Houston the meeting took about 15 minutes. Comical, to say the least.

The worst part was the waiting. Waiting for the French government to approve my papers and send my au pair contract. Luckily my family hired an agency to help me with the paperwork. I am going to do a blog post later that explains the process better. FOR EXAMPLE: There is a form called an OFII. Basically, you just have to bring a copy to the Consulate and get it stamped. That’s it. It is to be filled out in France. This information was nowhere to be found on the consulate website or on any blog I have read.

There is so much lost in translation. Thankfully, I am done with this part. The next step is packing. You never truly realize how much stuff you have until you have to pack it into two suitcases and one carry on. Needless to say, many clothing donations have been made.

I encourage everyone who reads this to please leave any packing tips in the comments! I will need them! More updates soon!

 

 

Tomber sept fois, se reveler huit.

To say lot has happened since my last post is an understatement.

I sent all of my papers to France. Translated, originals, copies, etc. I decided I may need to be a translator. When I paid $33/ page to translate documents, I decided that might be a good job. Who knows what the future holds?

All of my information is in France being processed. So, seeing as I don’t have a criminal record, I think I should be accepted. Waiting for the papers to get back to me is excruciating.

I have an appointment set at the Consulat général de France à Houston on July 29th. I’m praying that all of the papers that I need get back to Louisiana in time for me to go to Houston and apply for my visa.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of horrible things that happened in the last 30 days. To name a few: Dallas, Nice, and finally Baton Rouge. People are resilient, and we come together in bad times. The quote in the title is one of my favorites that reminds me of this.

“tomber sept fois, se relever huit”(Fall seven times, Stand up eight)-Phillipe Labro

A lot of people have been asking me if I am still moving. Some have told me I shouldn’t go. After everything happened in Nice, my grandmother told me that she didn’t think it was a good time for me to be going to France.

I understand the concern and I am lucky I have so many people who care about me.

However, I am still going. And here’s why.

I will not let these horrible people change the course of my life and happiness. If you are thinking of changing any plans out of fear, DO NOT do it.

Now, lets all be happy and live our dreams! Whether it is traveling the world, having a family, owning a home, or skydiving. Seriously though, “small” dreams are important, too!

Go do it and avoid ALL the people who bring you down.

LOVE,

Jolie

drems

 

 

 

Au Paris?

 

paris-2011-paris-by-night-700x700

 

First off… If you’re wOndering why it’s jolie in wAnderland. It’s a play on words. Wanderlust has taken over my life. Get it? 🙂

I have been dreaming of becoming an au pair in France for a while. It’s been a long time coming. Planning, saving money, and ultimately having enough courage to just go for it. I have been thinking about how I came to this point in my life. The past few years have been hard for me. Thankfully, my family and friends are amazing. I got through it because I have great people in my life. Especially my parents.  Somehow, I think I am a better person now. Who said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Kelly Clarkson? just kidding. Good song, though.

At that time,  I had a lot of rough days. Dreaming of traveling helped me get away from all that was going on. It was my happy place. I am finally in a great place, and ready to go. When I thought about how I came to the decision to be an au pair, I had reservations. I needed to make sure it was the right decision. Is this really what I want? I have thought about this for months. I am definitely ready. I still dream of living in France and traveling around Europe daily. I don’t use it to get away or to be happy. This is what I REALLY want.

I have found a family that I hope I will end up with. They are lovely. I told them about my Epilepsy and the could not have been more understanding. I already find them to be so sweet and welcoming from across the world.

I am starting all of the paperwork for my visa. Crossing my fingers and toes that everything works out. I am making lists of things to do. FYI…I don’t normally do that. I normally just go with it. Let the anxiety begin. Deep breathing begins now. Woosah.

I figured I should write a blog and I wanted to start early. I want to keep track of the process from start to finish. >Find Family >Get a Visa >Packing>Moving>Live in Paris>Travel>Etc. I want to share my experiences before and after I move.

The best is yet to come.

“Ours is a divine journey; therefore, this journey has neither a beginning nor an end… This journey has a goal, but it does not stop at any goal, for it has come to realize that today’s goal is only the starting point of tomorrow’s journey.”-Sri Chinmoy