To travel is to live, isn’t it? At least, that’s what my friend HC Andersen shared to me. Some 3 years ago, I left my place and moved to a different country with barely a few facts waiting for me to unfold.
First of all, I was an au pair and the only certain thing I was sure of was that I’m going to live with a particular family, take care of cute little girls and do some chores, and learn the country’s language. What came next was the history of my European life.
So, I left everything behind and travelled some 18hours flight down to the city of sin called Amsterdam. Apparently, John Green was right; Amsterdam is a city of freedom and in freedom we tend to make a sin.
The moment I step foot, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t ready to face a new life but ready or not, I knew I had too. This was a different life, for sure. So much different from what I used to and had nothing else to do but take up the challenge. It was after all, a decision I made on my own; disregarding the advices from my own family.
Luckily, I adopted very well. I lived with a beautiful family in a small village some 3 hours away from Amsterdam. I could say, I was culture shocked but who wouldn’t, anyway? Here I was, living in the countryside away from the lights and glamour of city life, doing definitely new things on an everyday basis. Something I no longer used to after living in Cebu city for almost 10 years. My weekdays were patterned and weekends were almost spent with long hours on skype or movies and such. Not to sound it boring, but that’s how it started.
Later on, I learned to travel and explore. First stop? Amsterdam! And damn, how I loved this city so much. The people, the sceneries, the ambience, it was everything I wanted to be in. For some moments, I wouldn’t want to go home to my host family and would have rather stayed there. But that’s not how life goes.
In my stay in the Netherlands, I’ve travelled to different cities and countries in Europe. I visited my cousin’s place in Antwerpen, Belgium, travelled with the host family in Dusseldorf, Duisburg and other border cities in Germany, even went to a summer holiday in Norway to visit some family members and spent a good getaway to Milan and Venice in Italy with my dear cozie. Such was a life of an au pair; patterned weekdays and exciting weekends.
Money talks don’t involve much. Being an au pair, I got to experience a lot of frees even if living in a foreign country. Free lodge and boarding, free fries and beers, (haha) free language school and some free weekend getaways sponsored by the host. I spent my money on clothes fitted for each season; but most of it was spent on a weekend travel to Amsterdam to meet friends (and party, Oooppps!).
Time flew fast and the next thing I know was for me to leave. One year has passed and while I was enjoying my stay, I needed to make another decision of my life, of which was to move forward to another European country. Denmark, that was!
The au pair journey continued to the Venice of Scandinavia – Copenhagen. Sure, it was indeed beautiful.
I was able to live in an upscale part of the region where beaches are nearby, a forest on the side, and parks and castles are everywhere AND the city is just a bus ride away (even a bike away, if you dare to in the cold). To me, it was a perfect location. I could easily turn from a party girl in the city and timid babe in the beach in just a snap of a finger.
But contrary to my love for the Dutchies, I didn’t fall in love with the Danes. Their personalities didn’t fit to mine. While Amsterdam felt home to me, Copenhagen became the opposite. I can’t quite explain the difference, but to me, because I got used to the brutal honesty yet sweet smiles of the Dutchies, I didn’t know how to react of the blandly gesture of the Danes. But, hey! I survived the 2 year stay.
Danish language is interesting. You don’t need to read every letter in a word and like other languages; one word could mean two different things. I sure have enjoyed my stay in Denmark. I appreciated a lot about life, love and arts. Danish people sure know who to live their lives, artistically.
While staying there, I continued my quest to explore other cities. Such as the German capital – Berlin, Barcelona in Spain, even got lost in the neighbouring city of Malmo in Sweden, went back and forth in Amsterdam to meet dear friends, and went up north of Norway – Tromso to catch a glimpse of the beautiful northern lights. Unluckily, I wasn’t able to catch it which makes it a reason for me to come back one day!
Had I gotten the chance to move forward to another Scandinavian city after the 2 year stay in Denmark? YES! I did and could have lived another 2 year stay in Oslo, Norway. But au pair-ing was enough for me. I have found enough reasons to leave Europe and come home to a loving family and sweet friends.
So here I am, trying to live a life back in Cebu while missing everyday my European life! But no regrets, just LOVE.