I’m buying a bike and moving to Holland!

A couple of weekends ago was Natasha’s birthday. To celebrate the whole family went on a weekend trip to Holland. We left around 6:30 AM, and got to our first destination around noon. Natasha mentioned how she wanted to see windmills when we were there, so I looked up ideal places to go to in Holland to see beautiful windmills. The most recommended place was a town called Kinderdijk. I am pretty sure if you write “Holland” and “Windmill” in google search, this place would pop up. And the pictures you would see are spectacular! I was completely awestruck by how unbelievably stunning this town was. It wasn’t just the beautiful Windmills that made this town so pretty, it was also all the quaint little houses that were basically glued to each other.

Here is a little history about the windmills, and their importance to this town. Netherlands is on the border of Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea. This is why there are so many beautiful canals everywhere, because half of its border is the North Sea. People created windmills to control water levels in towns that had a lot of canals, such as Kinderdijk. The community built the windmills and would give the responsibility of taking care of the water level to people who passed a certain test proving they knew how to operate a windmill. The people would live in the windmill with their families, and the community would pay them.

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This was considered a peasant job, but I  wouldn’t mind being paid to live in such a beautiful windmill. Although it is quite loud, and if you don’t do your job right, the whole town might flood. That seems like a lot of responsibility, so maybe I wouldn’t live here.. Right now the town doesn’t use the windmills to control the water levels, they have motor powered ones now. Each windmill is rented by someone (but the community owns all of them), and the people have to have a licence that proves that they know how to take care of the windmill.

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There were about 18 or 19 windmills. It was so beautiful, ahh!! Each windmill had the year that they were built. Most of them were build in the early or mid 1700’s.

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It is quite windy here, hence the windmills, so the grass looks super cool in this photo. Hope you guys can feel the wind from this picture.

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I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but this place has a lot of beautiful windmills. (; There was one that was the oldest, that looked different from the others. But dingong me didn’t take any pictures of it. I took a lot of videos, but they don’t look that good once I upload them onto the blog.                                                                         Sorry -_-

After we had lunch in Kinderdijk, we went to Delft. It was less than an hour away, with some light traffic. This is when I realized why Holland is the bicycle capital of the world. So viele Fahrräder! Just bicycle galore!

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This picture doesn’t really show how many bikes there were, I just like how the the building look.

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The pretty church in the middle of the town.

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And when you turn around, you see this beautiful town hall. I don’t have any fun facts about this town, because we didn’t really learn anything about it. We just walked around for an hour or so. But I do know it’s very pretty!

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The buildings look like they are floating. The canals were breathtaking. I was literally gasping for air!(;

After Delft, we headed to our AirBnB. It was in a town that was 30 min train ride from Amsterdam. We had some dinner that the host provided and went to bed. In the morning we had to stop by the mall because dingdong Inna forgot to pack Kosta any nice pants. (I was just having a dingdong weekend) What I realized when I was looking for the mall was that it would take you longer to get somewhere in a car then it would if you walked. This place is so bike friendly that there are barely any roads for cars in the center of any town.

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Yet another pretty picture of a canal.

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Pretty colorful houses. Amsterdam was so populated, but it also felt very intimate at time. Especially when you were walking through little back streets.

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Of course I had to get a picture of the beautiful museum. I tried to get the famous sign, “I AMsterdam”, but there were so many people. Can you see it?

We spent most of our day in a bacteria museum, learning about all different bacteria. It was very interesting, and also disturbing. There are just too many things that have bacteria, including me. I think I might have started washing my hands more after that museum.

Getting into the Groooove(;

I’m still alive, I haven’t been taken!! Just letting you guys know since I haven’t posted in a while. I don’t really have a good reason why I haven’t written. Maybe because I feel like I have to only write about the cool things I’ve done, or experienced. And lately I haven’t really done anything I felt was worth sharing, (except for my Holland trip, that will be in my other post). But then I remembered why I made this blog, it was not only to document my year abroad, but to also give an insight of a life of an Au-Pair. So this blog post won’t be about some crazy adventure I went on, it will be about the reality of being an Au-Pair.

The appeal of being an Au-Pair, for me that is, was the fact that you had the chance of living abroad, without actually having to move there permanently. I have always wanted to travel, and I enjoy working with children, so I thought it was a win-win. Since I’ve worked as a Nanny before, I know that being around children can be hectic sometimes, so I didn’t have this notion that everything would be easy. I think that is an important thing to remember, IT WON’T BE EASY. This isn’t a vacation, this is a job. You are responsible for someones children, and that’s kind of a big deal. For example, I am responsible for picking up the children from Kindergarten, making them food, giving them a bath, doing their laundry, making sure they are safe, taking care of them when they are sick and being their friend. Some days are easier than others, but all in all, my job isn’t that difficult because I didn’t come here with the mindset that this would be easy, and that all I will have to do is take care of children on the side while I travel around Europe. I knew this was a job, and my main priority would be taking care of the children. Of course, there are perks like traveling with your host family to beautiful destination, but that doesn’t happen all the time, so this shouldn’t be the main reason why someone becomes an Au-Pair. If it is, then I think you will be disappointed with your choice.

Here is an example of how my day usually goes. I wake up around 6:30, mostly because that’s when everyone else is awake so it gets pretty loud. I lay in bed, and wait until the family leaves to get up, just because I don’t want to be in their way while they are getting themselves and the kids ready for the day. I make breakfast around 7:30-8ish. Some days I use this time to skype with my friends and family cause its 11 pm their time. Depending if I skyped with anyone, I am usually doing some form of homework by 10. I have a hard time concentrating, so I take a lot of breaks. I am pretty burnt out by 12, so that’s when I get ready for the day. Put on some regular clothes, do my make-up and have a little snack. Then I go for a walk, this town has a beautiful trail in the forest, so I go there a lot. I just listen to music and sometimes I bring my bible and read on a bench. I get home around 2, depending if I went to the store, and I prepare what I will be making the boys for dinner. I also just take a break and have some tea. Around 3:30 I go pick up the boys. They always want to go to the playground after school, so that’s where you’ll find us. There are a group of Russian ladies that have befriended me, so I’m not just a weirdo sitting alone on a bench. Sadly I’ve come to realize after being around the Russian ladies, that I am very Ukrainian. I guess that has something to do with the fact that I’m from Ukraine and have Ukrainian parents. But somehow they try to understand me. We leave the park around 5ish, because it starts getting dark by then. We are home before 6 most days, and that’s when I start preparing dinner. After dinner is finished the boys have time to play, and then around 7 they have to clean up, pick out their clothes for the next day and brush their teeth. If they do all that before their bedtime, they get to watch a cartoon. Most nights Peter (host dad) is the one putting them to bed, but if he is working late, I do it. The kids are asleep around 8:30. Sometimes I have an evening chat with the parents, or I just go to my room and read a book or watch Netflix. I’m usually asleep by 11. And that is how most of my days go.

Nothing glamorous, just a typical day as an Au-pair. This week the children got sick from our vacation to Holland, so they had to say home. So my days were a bit less relaxing then usually, and more stressful, but like I said, this isn’t a vacation, it’s a job. The children will always the be main priority.

Now for some pictures. I visiting Frankfurt for the first time a couple of weeks ago with Natasha (host mom). We went to the shopping center and shopped for a bit.

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Train station in Frankfurt.

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This beautiful church was one of the only buildings not bombed during WW2. The reason for that is because bombers would use it as a landmark, so when they would see the church, they knew they were near Frankfurt.

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This Max and Linda. They are pretty adorable together. Linda reminds me of Masha from Masha and Medved.

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These little shelters are everywhere in the forest.

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Natasha is a phenomenal cook! I have tried so many new dishes because of her. And she always makes it look so pretty!

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Kosta drew a picture of his family and I made the cut! It was super sweet and made me feel really included.

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Had a game night with the parents. After 2 rounds of practice, I accidentally won the 3rd round. Woohoo!

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I made a friend! She is super sweet, and a good teacher.

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Went on a walk with Julia and finally found a good view point where you can see the whole town.

I am slowly getting used to this life, but lately each day seems to be different and I am missing the consistency of how they used to be. Obviously each day can’t be the same, but for a while that how it was. Like I said earlier, my host family and I went to Holland last weekend for Natasha’s birthday. I will do a post about that because it was unbelievably amazing!

Pinch me.

Almost 2 weeks here in Germany. I thought that once I was here then it would finally hit me, something like, “Hey Inna, you are going to spend a year here, you should start freaking out right about…….. NOW!” But it hasn’t, like at all. I actually sometimes feel like I’m living someone else’s life. There have been moments these past 2 weeks where I had to stand back and be like, “Inna, this is YOUR life, you are the one that is living it.” You’re probably wondering why I am talking to myself so much, maybe it’s because I haven’t made any friends yet. Yeah, this is true. No new friends yet, (besides my little boys and their parents). I think I would be more excited to make friends if I wasn’t so nervous speaking in German. Every time someone speaks to me in German I get all flustered and automatically say that my German isn’t very good. To be honest, it isn’t very good, but it’s also not very bad. I can understand what people are saying, I just have a hard time saying the answer in German. I have a test next week that will assign me to a class, and since I took 3 German classes this summer, I really hope that I am not placed in a low class.

During my first weekend my host family showed me around the town. I learned fun facts about this little town. Here are some of the cool ones. So this town has a salt spring, people came her for relaxation. They would use the salt spring to create bathhouses, and even drinking water. The water was suppose to have medical benefits, so a lot of sick people came here as well. I tried some of the water, it was so salty! It basically tasted like copper to me. There are also these huge walls of branches that have salt water falling from the top. As the water comes down, and hits the branches, it sends this salty aroma into the area. If you close your eyes, you’d think you were at the beach. This was also created for medical purposes, the salty air is suppose to help people who have breathing problems. They have a bunch of beach chairs around the park, and you can just lay down and get a breath of fresh air. I also got to see the coolest park EVER! These Europeans man, they sure know how to keep kids entertained, I couldn’t even contain myself, and I’m “tipa” an adult(:

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Come on, would you pass up this insanely awesome slide!

My job as an Au Pair isn’t very hard. The boys are only 4 and 5, but they are super independent. It kind of freaked me out in the beginning. Little Max was walking around with a knife, and started cutting his bread. I was waiting for his mom to freak out and take the knife from him, but she actually encouraged him. Although I found this very dangerous, after getting to know these kids I understand why their parents aren’t afraid. Since the parents give them so much freedom to do things by themselves, the children take a lot of pride in their accomplishments. So instead of taking a knife and running around the house chasing his brother with it, (like I would imagine any 4 year old boy would do), Max takes it, cuts his bread, and puts it back because he knows that a knife isn’t a toy, it’s a utensil used for cutting. Sounds crazy, I know! Maybe not so crazy for some people, but it’s crazy to me.

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This is what I mean about them being independent, Max basically made those crepes all by himself.

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But they are also like all little kids, they love their legos!

This past weekend my host family and I went on a little road trip to visit  Rheinstein Burg and a little town called Bacharach.  IT WAS AMAZING! Not even exaggerating. I haven’t traveled anywhere that was this old before, so I was completely taken back about all the history, (it was built in 1300). Can you believe that! I mean, it was rebuilt around 1700 by the prince of Prussia, but to think that where I was standing was someone’s home who was alive during the 14th century. I just can’t even..

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First glimpse of the castle.

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The courtyard, with the castle’s own personal church.

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The castle is right by the Rhein River (hence the name of the castle “Rheinstein”) and this area is known for its wines. This is the view of the other side of the river from the castle, and all the vineyards.

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Then we went exploring the little town of Bacharach.

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The town from above. This town was exactly how I pictured a little German town to look like.

Packing for a year is impossible!

Here I go, about to embark on a year as an Au Pair in Germany. Less than 12 hours till I take off and I am completely packed, can you believe it. Of course I had some help from my very organized best friend (Gloria), she’s a world traveler, so she’s pretty much an expert at packing.

Even though I usually enjoy packing, this ordeal had me VERY frustrated. To be honest, I made it a little difficult for myself by trying to put a year worth of clothing into one big suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t have room, it was that my luggage kept on being 60+ pounds, no matter how I would rearrange everything. Almost ready to give up and just take two big suitcases, Gloria came in with her expertise, and with some hard truth as well. She pointed out that I might have over packed. So what we did was we went through all my clothing and I would decided if I really needed it. To my surprise, I actually put back almost half of what I originally packed. It was a little hard, but Gloria was right, I did over pack. Once I just packed the clothing that I knew I needed, the scale was finally below 50, it was a glorious moment!

To create some more room, I put my sweaters in large Ziploc bags, which really helped. But I got a little carried away and put all my shirts into the Ziploc bags as well, and that didn’t go as well as I thought it would. The bags are made for shrinking the size sweaters take up by taking all the air out, the one that I bought was designed to hold 10 sweaters, so when I stuffed almost 40 shirts into a bag, the job they were suppose to do wasn’t as effective. Eventually we just took all the shirts out, rolled them up, and packed them the normal way, which worked better in my opinion.

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Another way we were able to cut down the weight of the luggage was by taking the heaviest shoes and coats and wearing them on the flight. I might look like a weirdo going to some village in the Arctic, but hey, I just took 5 pounds off my luggage.IMG_4889

Most of the pants and coats I took.
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This pile of shirts was drastically downsized, I probably took maybe half of what is in the picture.

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This is what my bag looked like when it weighed more than 60 pounds. Ending up actually leaving the cute red rain boots at home. Although it was hard, I had to compromise.

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At my going away party, my sweet cousins got me some journals, which I desperately needed. Also my lovely sister Lili got me a bible that is an English, and German translation, as well as that cute little note book.

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I also got this adorable little notebook from one of my cousins, and during my party I had every one put their name and address in the notebook. I’m excited to send out postcards to everyone!

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The most important thing I learned from packing was that you honestly don’t need a bunch of clothes, but that didn’t stop me from packing a lot. I was just very efficient about it(: