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To adventure, or not to adventure…

After completing my studies, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I felt restless and really didn’t want to start my working career and settle down just yet. I never planned on taking a gap year and being an Au Pair wasn’t even on my list of options.

My best friend wanted to Au Pair and I took her to the interview. The lady invited me in and I went, still not wanting to Au Pair. As I listened to what she was saying it felt like my view on Au Pairing shifted completely. I used to think it was simply being someone else’s maid – and I didn’t want to do that. The more she spoke about it, the more I was intrigued and I thought “why not?”.

From there everything happened at the speed of light. I filled in the forms and everything that goes with it, and didn’t have to do much (thanks to the Au Pair agency) and within a couple of days a host family was interested in me. We had an interview and loved each other immediately. After a couple of months, I was at the airport on my way to adventure. This was my very first time flying – I was nervous as hell to be on an airplane for hours! The goodbyes were bittersweet. I am extremely close with my family and it was sad to leave, but my mom encouraged me to do this, to experience a whole new world. And boy was it new!

The Netherlands was wonderful! The way of living was so completely opposite of what I was used to, and within a few months I grew up, I grew brave, I grew within. Suddenly there’s no one to really go places with as I was far away from friends. I had to travel and explore alone. That sounds glum and boring, but it wasn’t! On my first off day, I put a book in my bag and I decided to just get lost. I wasn’t scared, I was excited. I roamed the streets of Den Haag on that first day, and I fell in love. I sat in cafés alone and just watched the people going about their day.

My host family was wonderful and we quickly became friends. They had three children, aged 3, 5 and 7, and I was nervous knowing that they’d be my responsibility. The nerves went away after finding my feet and I grew to love them as if they were my own. I miss them until this day.

Within in a couple of weeks, my friends from South Africa started their Au Pairing journey and from here we tried to meet up and travel as much as we could. We went to Paris, Belgium, the Texel Islands and so much more! We explored the streets of Amsterdam, the liveliest city I’ve ever been in. The buildings, the bridges, the thousands of bicycles, all of this was so breath-taking, and many times I had to pinch myself as a reminder that the moment I was in, is real.

The Netherlands, actually the whole of Europe, has so much to offer and I would go there again and again. There is so much to explore, so many museums, landscapes, cities, and oh my gosh, the food!! They have the most delicious delicacies I’ve ever tasted. Just thinking about “stroopwafels” makes my mouth water.

So, if you are ever in doubt about travelling, just stop it. I’ve never heard of anyone going on an adventure and say: “I shouldn’t have done that.”

Go, just go.

Author: Lelani Niemand

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