If you ever meet a jaw-droppingly gorgeous and quiet Venezualian lady who is a seemingly shy German Au Pair, don’t be fooled.
She will be a crazy, fun-loving, and full of more hilarious belly laughs than you can fathom. She will instantly become a vital member of your journey and a close friend. This lady will be named Vanessa, or at least, our next Featured Female Traveler is!
I’ve often wondered how one becomes an Au Pair or nabs one of those ‘teach English abroad‘ jobs, haven’t you?
It sounds like such a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to be able to see the world! This is how Vanessa was able to take her first steps towards being a traveling babe.
A Venezuelan Abroad
Before she became an Au Pair, Vanessa had never gone further than her neighboring country of Columbia. “I lived in Bogotá for 4 years. For a long time I had been crazy about the idea of traveling and since I don’t have – let’s say, a big bank account- I decided to find a way to travel abroad while working so I could cover my travel expenses. I found options like Workaway and Aupairworld. In the end, a family from Germany decided to take me as their AuPair for 6 months.”
We all have something that pushes us to want to be more, do more, see more. Vanessa’s push was from the desire for more global knowledge. “I just think that I always felt that impulse to know more about the world than what I could learn in the school or in the same place I grew up,” she explains.
“I must say that I have this enormous curiosity to see how people live around the world. All the simple things like buying groceries or weekend trips. But also I get amazed by the languages, the architecture, the history, and the people you meet while wandering around a new place.”
She continues, “Traveling is the most effective way to open your mind to new ideas and perspectives, every person you meet has a story to tell and sometimes I really think ‘wow, this totally different from what my parents told me’ or ‘I really appreciate the life that I’m able to live’. So, the adventure spirit has always been there, and when I finally listened to that insistent voice telling me to take the plane, I got even more obsessed with traveling, city by city, friend by friend.”
While living abroad, Vanessa had the opportunity to take short trips around Europe. The hardest part of this, she explains, was scheduling around her host families’ schedules. Due to this, a lot of her travels were last-minute and improvised, however, everything went well for her. In the future, she would like to be able to plan her travels better with the hopes that it would be less draining financially.
“I have to say that I’m not good with that at all. I’m a newbie still learning the business. Basically, at this point, almost everything represents a challenge for me because I have to do a lot of research.”
Vanessa says that in the future, she would like to be able to “consider the accommodation and the tickets as something I should plan ahead just to save some stress, and I say this because that stress is familiar to me!”
Despite her sometimes stressful trip planning, Vanessa was able to visit so many beautiful locations!
“So far in Europe, I’ve been to Austria, Italy (Rome and Trafoi), Munich (my previous neighbor city), Berlin, Füssen and some towns around Augsburg, which is where I was living two months ago. Before my travel to Argentina (where I’m currently living) I went to Cologne for the carnivals (I also visited Düren) and after that, I took a train with my favorite travel partner Maureen (Mo) to Amsterdam. We also visited some small beautiful towns out of the city,” she informs us.
Of all these gorgeous locations, one must wonder what her favorite place was. “This is a tough one,” Vanessa ponders. “My favorite place… I think it has a lot to do with how are you feeling or who you are at that moment, at that place. With this on my mind, I think my favorite place is a bridge in Augsburg.”
In addition to the Augsburg bridge, many places grabbed Vanessa by the heartstrings.
“I consider Berlin a city that must be visited. Every street and building tells you all kind of stories: beautiful, sad and terrible ones. I consider it the most beautiful city that I visited in Germany because its beauty goes beyond aesthetics,” explains Vanessa. “Berlin made me experience many feelings about my own country and gave me some sort of hope just watching this city still standing with its precious scars.”
Her Italian dreams came true in Rome, where “I felt like home walking the streets. They have this vibe that reminds me of my hometown. But it isn’t about the architecture; it is about grandmothers hanging clothes, the aunts making soup on a Sunday, and the families going to the picturesque markets. I would love to live there someday,” dreams Vanessa.
Then there is the gorgeous city of Amsterdam, “a city that my soul recognized as its friend. Multicultural, free, open-minded and fresh vibes all around. If you want to try the best cheese ever and these waffle cookies that changed my life, take your time to visit the local food stores.”
It’s an Au Pair Life For Her
So what does an Au Pair lifestyle in Germany entail? According to Vanessa, her “au pair journey is pretty much the longest trip I’ve taken, physically and spiritually, I must say. The six months in Germany taught me a lot about people and about myself.”
“I worked at my host family’s house. My job besides light housework was basically taking care of the kids, playing with them, helping them with homework and things like that. Something I really liked and enjoyed about the au pair experience is that I could learn German. I was attending classes every day so now I can speak a little bit and I love that.”
I’ve always believed that venturing into other cultures is a huge cure for hatred and judgment. Agreeing, Vanessa adds
“Traveling is medicine for prejudices. What I love about it is the perspective that you get about life and the people who you meet on the way. Finding small and large differences, but also similarities in people’s manners and behaviors around the world are something that causes me pleasure every time.”
Even the little things, she continues, such as how counting is different, amaze her and make her smile. “German people count in a way in which you need to write the number from right to left. They don’t say 20+1 (twenty-one), but 1+20 (einundzwanzig). So, I was always watching with curiosity how the kids were writing carefully the number ‘1’ and then the number ‘2’ to its left. Little things like this are so fun to see and learn.”
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
Looking for the light in the darkness is something Vanessa is incredible at. Not only is she amazing at removing prejudices, she is incredible at finding something good from something bad. “I have a lot of good memories, to be honest, I’m not good at choosing favorite things because I always think that even the bad moments leave you something interesting to tell.”
“I do have a really nice memory related with the first time I saw snow,” acknowledges our favorite Venezuelan. “I come from a country where we don’t have winter as many of you know it. I was really excited about playing with the snow and walking in the snow and taking pictures with the snow,” she joyfully recounts. “I felt like a kid and I loved having snowball fights!”
The Big Bad Train Station
True to her words, Vanessa joyfully tells us about her worst experience while traveling. “One night, I had to sleep in a train station. I know that’s actually something common to do when traveling, but I had an Airbnb room and I didn’t have a way to go back there. It was about 1 am and I didn’t have money to pay the expensive taxi. So I decided to stay at the train station and I fell asleep. Winter time, no money and few clothes. I got sick obviously. But the actual bad part is that the next day was Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday) and I was so tired and sick that I couldn’t go to the parade.”
Finding A Solution
How does Vanessa find the silver lining through this exhausting night? “Couchsurfing was my savior. This really nice guy took me into his house and I spent all Rosenmontag with him. The good thing is that I made another friend. We got to know each other’s cultures and ideas in that short time. It actually ended up being a nice day!” She joyfully recounts.
Most of us look back on trips and think “I should have done this, I should have gone there!” Not Vanessa, though. She wouldn’t change a single thing, except for time. She tells us, “Even though sometimes I could have saved myself some stress, my travels have been opportunities to learn and appreciate many things about life. However, if I could have the chance to just extend every trip I’ve made, I would totally do it.”
For me, coming home is always bittersweet. I get to see my husband and pug, but I’m leaving my adventurous spirit and heart behind. I always wonder what makes coming home so hard for everyone else. I asked Vanessa this question and simply fell in love with her answer.
“I reached the conclusion that I have several homes,” begins Vanessa.
Continuing, she says “There are many places where people are thinking and waiting for me. I left Venezuela 7 months ago and I guess that the hardest part for me right now is actually not knowing when I’ll be able to go there again. Now that I’m living in Buenos Aires, I want to make a South American travel. I haven’t planned anything yet but I started saving money already!”
Vanessa’s advice for the ladies heading out on their first excursion is also advice for herself.
“Don’t be afraid! Let yourself enjoy and take everything in. If the things don’t go as planned, it’s normal. Remember that if you have an internet connection, you have pretty much everything you need to get out of a difficult situation while traveling. And please talk to people, don’t be so shy! That’s also a self-advice for me.”
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