Six feet under my life as an au pair

After a long bus ride I arrived in the city in the early morning around 6am. I like mornings, especially the peaceful ones when everyone is sleeping or you can just see few people rushing for work and waiting in a line to take their coffee. I was so tired but a long way to my host family´s home was waiting for me. I went to the busy metro and somehow I managed to find a free seat. I didn’t miss my station but when I went out I totally got lost and I couldn’t find the stop for the minibuses. I was going from place to place asking people(not that they understood me but still) and finally, as every happy end, a man helped me and showed me where to wait. It was fast here. I got on the minibus and it drove me to my desired place.

I found my host family’s house easily and I went to the security and told them the number of the flat. They called and the mother said that they are expecting me.. which was not true, because they were expecting me the day after. Funny. We had a misunderstanding about my arrival date, but even if I arrived a day earlier, they had no other option, but to welcome me haha! The mother and one of the daughters opened the door with a confused face but they were still smiling, so I didn’t feel bad.

My first days were a bit confusing while I was learning everything in the house, about their rules, daily life and the area around. Anyways, day by day, I got used to be around this lovely family with three very well-behaved daughters. The biggest one is a very smart and motivated girl. She is a hard-working student and really good at drawing. She showed me her drawings and I was very impressed. She likes to eat healthy things even if she doesn’t like the taste of them haha! Then there is the middle one, a 10-year-old kind-hearted girl. She likes playing volleyball and she really enjoys dealing with her little sister who has 3,5 years old, though if you see her and stay with her for a while you will think she is 5. She will give everything for chocolate and also she is a big fan of eating pear and just eating in general. Eating fish is not her strongest side, but she will tell that it is healthy and it is important to consume it. Going to school is something that makes her happy as well as jumping on you.

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My daily life here was not bad, I cannot complain. I had time to walk everyday, since I love doing it, to study and do my own stuff or just meet with friends… although I didn’t have many friends here, since they lived far and my young neighbors were hiding, I guess.. Anyways, I learned so many things while living with this family and I believe that by the time they also learned from me and improved their English speaking skills.

Living with a host family was definitely hard for me, since I am used to live alone and to have more freedom, but at the same time it was good, because I got to experience their daily life, try different foods, see different culture and way of life.

The not so great part is that I had to adapt on someone’s daily routines and make some changes in my daily plans, but still it was not something that couldn’t be managed. The most important thing is your privacy and independence not to be taken, so if you are planning to become an au pair in future – talk every detail with your host family.  Of course it is not for you if you don’t enjoy being around children, because the main and actually the only work of the au pair is to take care of children and help them improve their speaking skills in the language they are learning, which most of the times is English.

I have heard many great as well as many bad au pair experiences but I guess mine was among the first ones. I was lucky to meet a great family who welcomed me in their home with kindness.

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The colors of Istanbul

Saturday. Got up so early and excited for the new day. That day I decided to explore more of this beautiful city Istanbul. I sat on the bus and waited impatiently to arrive at the planned place. The bus ride took so long.. During the ride, I was thinking about the day and my expectations. Is that place going to be nice? am I going to like it?

And finally the time for the last bus stop came. I arrived in Aksaray and from there I started walking.. and I walked, I walked… up  to the hill, through the neighborhood of Fatih and after an hour  I arrived to the coziest and most colorful part of Istanbul.

There were so many tiny streets and I was wondering which way to take. Somewhere in the distance I saw some colorful buildings shining bright as if they were touched by the sun. I went that way and heard some voices of women fighting and a policeman standing there. I didn’t understand the situation, I just walked by and freaked out, because I didn’t have my documents with me… and going out without documents in a foreign country as a non-European can be a problem. Then I realized that I am in Turkey and problem yok!(no problem).

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I took some pictures of course and continued my way. I was expecting so many tourists, but it was empty. I could just only hear the voices of the angry women and some children  yelling  anne, anne!(mom, mom).

After those buildings I got into one very empty street with no people living in the houses around. They were too old obviously. I was walking around for some minutes, trying to find more things and I finally arrived in front of one house for children which I believe was something like a small theater. It was really nice decorated, with drawings as clowns and dolls in different colors. Inside, it was very small, of course, made for children to fit in and it was full of toys. Around there were children jumping while getting excited about the next game they were going to play and there were even some of them selling books to the people passing by.

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The other streets were filled with more of those cute houses which had many vintage shops and cafes above them. I got the desire to have a turkish tea in front one of them and to enjoy the relaxed and silent Saturday morning in this amazing area. I ordered my tea to the readhead waitress and I started reading my book. I could also feel the smell of peacefulness, hot turkish coffee and fresh simit in the air. From time to time I could also hear the laughing of the people sitting at the next cafe which was not destroying the atmosphere at all… instead, it was fitting perfectly.

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After I drank my tea I walked a bit down the same street and I saw some tourists, so I decided to follow them. After many hours in this neighborhood, I heard some loud voices and I saw the crowd. There was a cafe full of people taking pictures on the stairs colored in different ways. To be honest, this impressed me a lot because it was made really good and the vibes were even better. There were not many empty tables, I just walked in to see and even though we are in early autumn already, in that moment I could feel the waves of the oceans and the summer breeze which mace me feel fine.

Next to it there was a street covered with red umbrellas and here is where I finished my wandering and ended up as in a maze since I couldn’t find the way which I came from. I took another one which was loooonger and tired me so much, but I won’t complain, because it was really good and worth spending one Saturday there. Balat is really warm, special and different.

In the land of Don Quixote

A gentle rain welcomed me when I arrived in Toledo. Sure, it was great to escape the crazy sun in the South of Spain. I went out of the bus station with my umbrella and heavy backpack and kept walking straight up the stairs, then down the street… The whole city is like that. Not for people who get tired easily(like me). This was the modern part of the city though. Nothing like the pictures I have seen on the internet, because no one posts the not so cute ones, right? I mean who is going to post a picture of the bus station in Toledo? No human being does it.

To get to the old and historical part you can walk and take the normal stairs or use the escalator which is what I did. It is nice they don’t want to have tired tourists.  The old part of Toledo is what we all see on the pictures around the internet, but of course, it is different when you get there and experience it. All around there are cute shops with souvenirs inspired by Don Quixote. It was like walking around and getting lost in the pages of Miguel de Cervantes’ book. For a moment I felt like Don Quixote. It is just that my Sancho Panza was not there, but I had my Sancho friends who were more than enough! Eating tapas in Toledo was also nice. Actually, if you order a beer you get a free tapa too. That sounds amazing, right? Famous to try there is marzipan. I did not try it because I am not a fan, but if you are wondering what to take home, different than magnets and postcards, then some sugary marzipan in a weird form, could be a good idea.

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Except for the shops full of souvenirs, you will see swords everywhere. Did you know that the swords, daggers, and knives wielded by heroes and baddies in productions like Lord of the Rings, Conan, and Xena Warrior Princess were made in Toledo? Well, that is true. That is why you will find many shops with stuff related to Lord of the Rings and similar productions.

Beside being famous for sword making, Toledo used to be home of three religions and culture of Christians, Jewish and Arabs. So, now as a visitor, you get the chance to enjoy the complete journey through the history of Spain. Also if you are fond of the nice views you should try to go and see the city from above. The view is really fantastic! Sitting on a big rock, feeling the wind and looking out over the city of three cultures was definitely one of the highlights of my trip there.

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Mamma Mia! Italians everywhere!

Murcia is a city famous for its amazing student life and it brings together many international exchange students every year. You can get close to every culture and traditions with no need to travel to that country and especially, you will find so many Italians on your way. Every time I meet someone.. where are they from? Italy. Seems like in few years Spain will be conquered by them!

Coming to Spain was about experiencing the Spanish culture and way of life and it is not that I did not, but parallelly with that I also learned lots of things about Italy. That is why I am dedicating this post to Italy!

There are so many things about Italians that I find very funny, but so unique and original at the same time. And here I am sharing  some of my favorite ones!

The Italian language

When Italians have a normal talk, it sounds like one of those playlist you can find on youtube under the name ”songs for relaxation” and actually in the backgrounds there are always some annoying birds, but you keep listening to it because you like it. It is the same with the Italian language, it might sound annoying, but still it is kind of lovely… right? And that’s when they have a normal talk, but when they argue.. hm, I guess it’s the same, but maybe just in a faster motion!!

Anyways, it is an amazing language(personally, I like it so much) and it always sounds nice, even if they are swearing(and Italians swear way too much)! It is also considered as one of the easiest languages to learn and maybe that is why Italians find it difficult to speak another language. I’m joking. You are good at Spanish, at least =P

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Speaking English with an Italian accent

This is my favorite one! Italians do not pronounce the letter ”h”, so if they say ”I’m hungry” it sounds exactly the same as ”I’m angry” and then you wonder what is this person trying to say and you do not know what to do – to give them food or run before being punched! Also imagine an Italian saying ”my hair is so long”. What? Your air is long?

And, of course, not every Italian speaks like that…. only 95% =D

check this video > Italian in Malta

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Pizza and pasta

They love pizza and pasta, everyone knows that. Pizza without pineapple, pasta with tuna, with pesto, tomato sauce.. but when you are out of tomato sauce, do not put ketchup on your pasta! Just do not do it! It is a sin! Okey, if you want to make them angry(and I mean angry, not hungry =D) then go for it, but that is unacceptable for them! I still do not understand why. For me pasta and ketchup fit perfectly together! FOREVER!

 

Italian gestures

Does Italian sign language exist? Because if not, there is no need for it. They have enough gestures to help you communicate around. Even if you are just lazy and you do not want to speak, you can easily move your hand and tell someone to get out!

 

Grazie a tutti!

The one when ”los murcianicos” get crazy

Bando de la huerta, bando de la huerta, bando de la huerta… everyone gets so excited about this day here! It is a spring party when people have fun in honour of Murcia’s fertile region and its agricultural traditions. They make huge parades which last so long(hats off to the people who walk on the parades. I would probably give up) and it is really beautiful actually. They are wearing traditional clothes which are very colorful. The traditional clothes of the men are easier to wear and most of the women prefer that. The clothes of the women are big dresses with many accessories on them, but for this hot weather they are not the most favorite thing someone wants to wear on.

In he background during the parade, there are traditional songs… or sometimes not. I do not know how traditional ”Will you still love me tomorrow?” is, but I must admit that I liked that part! And what is crazier is that they are throwing food to the people who are watching it! Ah, Murcia.

I liked it and I had the chance to not move from my home and watch it from my balcony, but to be honest I would never go outside and stand there for 3-4, though for ”los murcianicos”(i mean murcian people) this is something like a must, because they even pay for the chairs to sit there and watch! Macedonian people would never do that, that’s why I am shocked! We don’t want to give money for things like that or maybe it is because we don’t have them, HAHA! And then they say ”Oh, Spain is in a big financial crisis”. Oh, really? Where?

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Now this was like description of the first, let me call it face of the celebration, but there is another one too!

”We start to drink at 9 am on this day” – said my spanish friend. Every celebration here leads to partying, but this day was like TOO MUCH! It is beautiful when people are wearing those nice clothes and everything is so bright, all the parks full of people having fun, bars open with nice music and honestly, I had so much fun. But then you see the city full of trash and you hear the ambulance sirens going wee woo, wee woo around.. That’s not so nice.

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                     What’s next? Burning a fish. This is Murcia and it is crazy!

 

 

Trip to Almería

Before visiting Almería I did not know that so many movie scenes were shot there. I just knew about one of my favorite spanish tv series, but did you know about Game of Thrones, Doctor who and many more? That´s cool indeed. What is even cooler is the statue of John Lennon in the historical part of the city. He was there during the filming of How I Won the War in the 1966. At that time he was 26 years old and he was staying in a villa with a garden which was making him feel nostalgic about his childhood years when he was living near to a place called Strawberry field garden. This nostalgy inspired him and that is how The Beatles’ song ”Strawberry fields forever” was born.

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I am not John Lennon, so I did not stay in a villa, but I also had a blast while staying with local people. I used the famous(or not so) website called couchsurfing (i have more info about it here). I really like it because in this way you can get into the culture deeply and which is more important – you can meet so many awesome people. I went to Almería with a friend and until the last day we could not find a host, but finally a nice man accepted our request and we stayed at his house for 2 nights. He made us feel comfortable in his house and we were lucky because he knew so much information about the city, which of course I couldn´t not memorize it all, but still it was great to have a free tour guide. We were also lucky about being welcomed with a home made hummus he prepared. Oh, it was so yummi and we are big fans of hummus! After this perfect welcome, I knew we met a great person! He is working as tutor in maths, chemistry and physics and even though he was quite busy, he made time for us, showed us around, we had some nice talks, tapas and beers(of course). Tapas in Almería are better than Murcia(just saying). I say better because they are cheaper, bigger and tastier! That is one advantage of Almeria, plus it also has the sea. I am not a big fan of it, but it was amazing drinking beer and having that perfect view. DSC08315Now a very short touristic part… When you are about to go to Almeria and you ask uncle google about what to visit there, the first thing that pops up is Alcazaba. That is the so famous fortress in Almeria which was build by the Arabs. It is pretty nice and it has a nice view on the city and the sea. As I said above, Almeria is a favorite city to many filmmakers, so in some movies like Indiana Jones and the last crusade, Conan the Barbarian and The Sindone, you can see scenes shot in this fortress.

Going out in Macedonia vs. Spain

After a Saturday party I got inspired to write about how different is going out in my country(Macedonia) and Spain! Yey!

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Spanish people really love to be outside, eat outside and have some beers during the all day. How does a typical spanish ‘going out’ look like? Well, people go out really late, something like 22pm or at least for me it is late. In Macedonia we like going out earlier. Anyways, what they do first is going for tapas which means snacks/appetizer or as we call it meze(мезе). They make tapas with everything that comes in their mind. I always wonder how some food goes with another one, but honestly, it is tasty!

With the tapas you always(almost) order a beer. Yes, they really love beer! What is weird for me is that in the tapas bars they do not have music and people talk really loud! I mean they are not talking, but they are screaming.. Weird, I know. After having some tapas and beers, it is time for the real party. You go in a pub/bar, drink, then drink.. drink, drink… and you do  onlythat of course… and clubs here open at 4am. Yes.. so people go out until 8am or even more. That’s it. Spanish lifestyle.

While in Macedonia > people love rakija(ракија) & shopska salata(шопска салата). Rakija is a very strong alcohol which is not tasty at all, but we drink it, because… well, why not. We were told that it is healthy, so we love overdosing ourselves with it. It is made from the distillation of fermented fruit(usually plums).

Shopska salata is a salad of tomatoes, cucumber and white cheese which we like eating while drinking rakija. And they always go together. It is a rule! Another thing that we love is kebapi which is a grilled dish made of pork. Ah, I want it now!

Where do we go to eat all those things then? We have bars of course, but they are just for a coffee or some beers. We go in a place called kafana which I do not know how to translate in english. Hm. Actually it is not only in Macedonia, but also in other Balkan countries as Bulgaria and Serbia. But yeah, it is a restaurant but it is not a normal restaurant, you know, there is live music which is traditional one and then you go there to drink, eat and have fun with your friends. When people get drunk they dance and it is okey if you want to dance on the chair or on the table. It is totally fine. That is how we do it and gosh I feel so nostalgic now. So yes, before going to clubs, we go to kafana and then around 1am the clubs are open, so who survived the kafana and the rakija can continue the party until the morning and who didn’t… well, they also continue it somehow!

I am not sure if I prefer Macedonian lifestyle or spanish one, but I am sure that I want to go home right now!