16 Things I Learned in ’16

2016 was…interesting. I personally had many ups and downs. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. I don’t have to do what I think is expected of me. – This one is really, really hard for me. Whether it be dating, exploring Paris EVERYDAY, or having huge groups of friends, I find it very hard to do what I want without feeling guilty for not doing something else.
  2. Sometimes when a group of new friends say a guy is trash, he is. It might take you months and months to realize this, and that’s ok.
  3. Sometimes you have to deal with crap and keep going – Literally, I’m an au pair and clean up a lot of poop.
  4. IT’S OK TO SAY NO. – I’m still learning this one.
  5. If someone makes you feel hard to love, or brings excessive anxiety into your life, it might be better to let them go. – I read a sentiment like this from a friend on Facebook and it just clicked with me so much.
  6. I’m not a “party girl,” no matter how hard I try. – I wanted so so hard to be a cool, party hard girl, but it just doesn’t make me happy, nor can I actually keep up with the cool party girls.
  7. Adult friendships are hard.
  8. I am unable to settle for a mediocre man. – No matter how much easier it would be to do so.
  9. I never want to spend Christmas away from family again.
  10. I need to and I am able to actually start saving money. – Right now all of my freelance writing goes into savings that I am trying not to (and haven’t yet!) spend.
  11. My time is valuable. If I want to stay home and write (or just Netflix, or relax and be alone), I don’t need to justify that.
  12. At the same time, I need to make plans with people to get out of the house sometimes. (Which I have been doing, don’t worry mom, I’m not a hermit, just aware of what I need to continue doing)
  13. I need to enjoy my time not having a full time job. – Freelance writing is a privilege that I get to do because I only work 30 hours a week!
  14. I need to start saying yes to scary things – So I am going on my first solo trip ever to Dublin for my birthday! I’m a bit scared but a bit more excited.
  15. Many of my friends here are a couple of years older than me, and, thus, slightly more put together. And that’s ok! I don’t need to compare myself to anyone’s life.
  16. I have no idea what I want to do with my life – and that’s ok! – If you read my last post, you probably think I’m busy trying to find work as an English teacher in Asia. Surprise, I’m not. I’m not sure where I’ll be after June/July, and I have no idea what I’ll be doing. But in this moment, I have decided I (probably) don’t want to commit to another year contract (for anything). So, although I don’t know if I will finish my TEFL course and teach English as a full time job, I still have a discount code for anyone interested. If you want a TEFL certificate that will enable you to teach English anywhere in the world, you can go to this link: http://teflbootcamp.com/celina/ and use the password “Celina” for a $30 discount off of already reasonably priced online TEFL certificate programs (under $200!).

This post was a bit all over the place, but so was 2016, let’s be real. So, what did you learn in 2016? Do you have any words of wisdom/advice/you’re a psychic and know what I should do? PLEASE COMMENT. But seriously, share your insights!

Penniless in Paris

Hey my name’s Celina and I can’t afford tissues or body wash. That’s right, I use toilet paper and shampoo instead. My social media doesn’t show pictures of me eating the same exact pasta for dinner every night, nor does it show my boots that are falling apart. On my Instagram you’ll only see me drinking overpriced coffee in a cafe or eating a meal with a friend that I can’t afford.

Last week I had 7 euros to my name (not because I’m reckless with my money, but because of unexpected circumstances). I was determined not to ask my host family for an advance, so I swallowed my pride and spent 3 euros on food I hoped would last quite a few days. I ate as much fruits and veggies as I could at my host family’s when I was working. And I went home and ate gross pasta.

And I’m sick of it. I don’t make a living wage. Of course, I make enough to survive. But I do not make enough to go out with my friends. I spend a lot of time alone, not because I want to, but because I don’t have money to go get coffee, or drinks, or, God forbid, a whole meal. I work a job without a salary; I receive a monthly “stipend.” And no, my host family isn’t stingy. They pay me the average wage for an au pair in Paris, and have already given me my Christmas bonus (That’s how I had the privilege of spending 7 euro on a Greek salad and fries today).

I’m sick of getting paid the same as 18 year olds who don’t hold degrees (and whose parents’ support them). I’m sick of getting peed on and going home to eat dinner alone. I’m sick of being too poor to buy milk for my coffee, or shoes that don’t have holes in them. I’m sick of living in a city I can’t afford in a career (if you could call it that) that I don’t enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, Paris is amazing! But for me, it’s not a city that I can afford right now. So what am I going to do? Well, I’m currently working my butt off to find freelance writing gigs, as well as training to get my TEFL. Sure I would love to live in Paris for another 6 months or a year, but I refuse to continue doing a job I don’t enjoy for an unlivable “stipend.”

However, I am not quitting my job. I signed a contract, and I will be staying here until late May, 2017, after which I will visit home to see my little sister graduate. As of now, I plan to use my degree and TEFL somewhere else in the world where I can live comfortably and – gasp! – actually save money every month. Right now, that place for me is Seoul, South Korea, but in a few months, who knows, I may have another destination in mind.

So thanks for reading a real, not so pretty account of an au pair. If you’re looking for a budget way to move abroad, au pairing is a great start – but it’s just that, a start. Au pairing is not a way to save money, or really live comfortably without savings, support from home, or other work.

So now I’m off to work. After, I walk home in the 6 degrees celsius weather and make my famous 1 euro pasta meal. I’ll do some freelance work and probably watch some Netflix. Later I’ll write down what I’m grateful for, and hopefully go to sleep with a thankful heart.

The Date and Dash

If there’s one thing you should know about Paris in July/August it’s that the city is hot hot hot. Because of that, many Parisians take holidays in these months. This has caused my already tiny friend group to dwindle, leaving me to spend a Saturday night alone…or convince a boy to go out with me. I had already used up my Tinder likes for the day (what can I say, lots of cuties that day), so I got back on Bumble and found a guy I didn’t really dig, but who was also bored and alone. He was a clueless just-finished-his-freshman-year-of-uni kid with no good ideas for a hang out place, so I decided to take him to my favorite bar.

This bar is my favorite because it’s hidden from the street, it has a pirate ship, and the security guy is now my friend (you can tell I visit a lot). It’s more of a club/speakeasy than a bar, and that’s what makes it cooler than pretty much any other place in Paris. When bumble boy, let’s call him BB, found out we lived on the same line 2 stops away he suggested we take the train together. I knew this was a bad idea, as it involved us having to make small talk on a train for half an hour, but agreed anyways. As I predicted, the train ride was a train wreck and I didn’t like him, romantically or platonically. He was pretentious without dressing the part and enjoyed bashing America (even though he studies there). We get to the bar and no surprise, he didn’t offer to buy me a drink. If I liked him, this wouldn’t have mattered as much, but this pushed me over the edge into the “I have zero obligation to this kid” mindset.


As we finished our first drink (with me nodding and saying “mmhm” while trying to look even mildly interested), I spotted two guys chatting. I wasn’t sure if they were gay or not, but I didn’t care; the one facing me had a kind face and I knew he’d be willing to help me escape. Throughout my horrid conversation with BB I made scared “help me” eyes at Kind Face Guy, but he didn’t see. As I walked with BB to get another drink I casually swerved and ran to Kind Face Guy asking, “Do you speak English?” too tired of BB’s BS to speak French. Luckily Kind Face Guy lived up to his name. KFG did speak English and thought the situation was hilarious, agreeing to pretend to be my French teacher if BB showed his face again. KFG and his friend, Magic Mike were eager to talk to me, a strange American young lady. Magic Mike proceeded to try and show me magic tricks that I was too tired/tipsy to understand.


KFG bought me a drink, I think because Magic Mike was trying to get us together. Magic Mike would say something in French to KFG and chuckle like a naughty child, so I’m just assuming some of it was about sexing me up. I followed KFG and Magic Mike around for an hour and then suggested I leave (I didn’t want to get in their way of a guy night or some hook ups), but KFG insisted I wasn’t interrupting. The last hour with KFG and Magic Mike was uneventful and involved Magic Mike pretending to like Trump to make me angry, which 100% worked. I added KFG and Magic Mike (who still hasn’t accepted) on Facebook and said goodbye to my one night friends. On the way out I kissed the doorman on both cheeks and walked with a purpose to catch the last metro, satisfied with another crazy night in my faux Parisian life.

A Penis in Paris – My Misadventures with Kate, Ep. 1

Dear members of my family: Read this at your own risk; I would suggest you didn’t. But just know I did not interact with said penis.

 

Kate and I reconnected in Paris when I moved here, about a month and a half ago when I started my life as an au pair in Paris. Kate is the best friend to have when you want to have a crazy adventure. I have never made a full night out with Kate because she parties hard and takes the night bus, while I am always super paranoid about missing the last metro (because there’s no night bus near me).

Saturday I decided to take Kate to a theatre show at a British theatre festival in Paris. I knew it would be very strange and avant garde – aka super strange and hopefully hilarious, and, if nothing else, at least in English. I booked the tickets the night before and Kate came over the next afternoon.

We chatted about stupid boys and I ate pan au chocolat while she sipped a strange beer I bought for her (I don’t know how to buy beer). She joked that the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a nice night with a naked man. We tried to leave on time, but I hated my outfit and changed 20 times while simultaneously doing my makeup. I had the metro directions – 2 transfers, 3 trains, a loooooong commute to a small theatre on the edge of Paris.

After getting on the train we realized I didn’t have directions from the metro station to the theatre…or the name of the theatre. We knew we would be late but gosh darn I was going to get my 10 euros’ worth of weird theatre. We walked out of the metro and realized our commute was a 15 minute walk, cementing our lateness. What we did not know was that we would have to climb hills and staircases that made us sweat our eyeliner off.

After finally finding the theatre we had to print our tickets (because they couldn’t just let us in, the only 2 girls in the lobby). Then we went outside to get a man to open the (unlocked) theatre door and walk us to the stage -because the seating was on the stage.

At this point we had missed the first 20 minutes of a supposedly hour long but really 45 minute play. We snuck to separated seats and watched unpaid actors dance on dirt that was strewn on the stage. We had read the brief summary of the play beforehand and knew vaguely about the plot, but I’m pretty sure those first 20 minutes were imperative.

We proceed to watch a girl in overalls sing a song about death, a guy we assumed was Jesus walk around the stage, and a guy in a hospital gown look very angry and confused. The entire time I was just praying there was no audience participation, as the actors were getting up close and personal with us. Towards the end hospital gown guy is killed and then brought back to life. And then he begins to peels his “skin” off – some sort of latex covering. First he was sitting and took off the top of his hospital gown.

“Oh no,” I think. “He’s not going to do it, is he?” Oh yes, he did. He took the whole gown off. Underneath he was wearing his birthday suit, and pretty confident about it. As he continued to stand naked in a pile of dirt peeling his skin, two actors swept the dirt around him. Then, after peeling all of the coating on his body, the play was over.

And that’s how I gave Kate exactly what she wanted for her birthday – a night with a naked man.

Stick around for more of my misadventures with Kate!

30 Rad Things To Do This Summer

I’m graduating in just 15 days (ahhh!), and I know you guys are counting down to summer too, so I thought I’d share a rad list of fun things to do in Summer 2K16!

 

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  1. Throw an Outdoor Party

 

Spruce up your garden and throw an outdoor party this summer. Hang lanterns and streamersg from the trees. Light candles. Break out the BBQ or set up a buffet table. Invite your BFFs, family and neighbours and have fun. Dance until dawn in the moonlight!

 

  1. Surprise Your BFF

 

Surprise your best friend with unique and unusual gifts for no reason at all. Wrap them in something fun (newspaper, paper bags, etc)  and send them through the post. She’ll dig it, I promise.. And if you feel so inclined, totally feel free to send me anything from this site – because you know I’m cuckoo!

 

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  1. Blow Some Bubbles

 

It’s good to do childish things now and again (or all the time). And did you know that there are several health benefits associated with blowing bubbles? Pursing your lips and blowing focuses your breathing and is great for relaxation. It’s also good, squeaky clean fun.

 

  1. Go Camping

 

Throw your tent in the trunk, grab some friends and go camping. What’s better than sleeping under the stars? Light a campfire and make s’mores. And then tell me about your adventures!

 

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  1. Go to a Festival

 

Everyone should go to a festival at least once in their life. If not several times. Find the perfect event for you and immerse yourself in the whole experience, including Instagramming and Snapchatting the whole thing so that I can live vicariously through you. 

 

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  1. Go to a Fair

    Go to a fair with a group of friends. Not a great big theme park – a small county fair. Enjoy the rides, eat some cotton candy and win a prize. Help me relive my glory days of clogging at the state fair!

 

  1. Go the Beach

 

Even if you’re not going on a long summer vacation, visit the beach. Arrive early to choose the best umbrella spot. Pack a picnic lunch (or get pizza, pizza is always good) and a stack of books and stay all day. Play games, swim and build sandcastles – or just lay out and tan, or burn in my case. As the sun goes down set up a BBQ and roast some veggie burgers.

 

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  1. Pick Berries

 

Ride out to a farm and spend the day picking berries. Bring them home and make smoothies, pies and cakes. There’s nothing better than freshly picked fruit!

 

  1. Take a Nap in a Hammock

 

It’s not all about rushing around (although that can be fun too). Summer is a great time to relax and dream a little. Set up that Eno and force your cat into it with you.

 

  1. Stargaze

 

Drive out to the country away from the city lights – or just come visit my family’s house, there’s a cornfield on our street! Lie down on a blanket and stare at the stars. If you have a portable telescope, use it! Be amazed at the wonder of the universe. Try not to think about the possible children in the cornfield.

 

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  1. Take That Trip

 

Take that trip you’ve always been meaning to take. What’s holding you back? Just book it and go! Hopefully that trip involves you visiting me in Paris, because as of now I have 3 possible friends, one of which will be the child I’m nannying.  

 

  1. Go Paddle Boating or Canoeing

 

Take off your shoes and socks and roll up your pants. Paddle in a river or stream. Or dangle your feet off the edge of a boardwalk. Don’t forget to pack a towel and also sunscreen – don’t get stuck with the thigh sunburn I got last year.

 

  1. Go Sailing

 

Grab a bunch of friends and spend some time sailing. Drive out to a lake and spend the day there. Take a picnic lunch (or pizza) and a blanket and enjoy a lazy day. I’ve always wanted to sail in the Chesapeake Bay, please someone do this for me – take one for the team!

 

 

  1. Swim in a Lake

 

The pool is great but swimming in a lake is something else. Find a safe location and skip a near death experience like I had in a river a few years ago. Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic…but better safe than sorry!

 

  1. Cycle

 

Dust off your bicycle and go for a long ride. Get out of the city and into the countryside. Enjoy the country roads and fresh air. Apparently bikes are more popular in Europe, so I should probably learn how to turn while biking.

 

  1. Go for a Hike

 

Plan your route and go for a hike. Choose somewhere you’ve never been before. Walk through fields and woods and enjoy being outside in nature, knowing that Trump can’t get to you there.

 

  1. Take a Road Trip

 

Road trips are always fun, especially when you choose the right travelling companions. Plan where you want to go but don’t be too rigid. Part of the fun is following those road signs and seeing where they take you. Take lots of tunes to listen to along the way, I suggest Taylor Swift.  

 

  1. Walk Barefoot in the Park

 

Remember the film with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford that my Grandma keeps asking me to watch? Take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot in the park. It’s freeing and exhilarating.

 

  1. Light Some Fireworks

 

Fireworks are not just for 4th July. Gather some friends and have a firework party. Light some sparklers and have fun.

 

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  1. Have a Film Night

 

Curl up on the couch and watch your favorite films. Make some popcorn and cry at the sad bits. A blanket and a tub of ice cream are useful and obligatory.

 

  1. Visit a New City

 

Visit a city you’ve never been to before. Drive or take the train and spend the day there. Enjoy the shops and restaurants. Eat lunch in a pavement cafe. I suggest NYC. Or Paris, definitely Paris.

 

  1. Go to a Museum

 

Check your local listings and visit a museum or art gallery. Keep a list of forthcoming exhibitions and events. Your local history museum could be more fun than you think – I got a great Instgram pic last time I visited mine.

 

  1. Play Some Sports

 

When was the last time you played some sports (my answer is seventh grade, fyi)? Choose something you like or something you would like to learn and go for it. Book a court etc. and have fun. Pick a friend who is less athletic than you and you’ll always look great playing any sport with them.

 

  1. Volunteer

 

Giving your time is always rewarding. Look for local community groups and projects that may need your help. Spend some time helping other people (or animals). If you want to go big, I suggest going to Asia and volunteering at a bear sanctuary.

 

  1. Learn a Language

 

Is there a language you’ve always wanted to learn? Enroll in a [French] course and make a start. Reward yourself with a visit to that country [France] once you have made good progress. It’s the best way to test your [French] skills. I am in no way biased towards France.

 

  1. Learn a New Skill

 

Learn something new. Enroll in an online course or book a place at your local community college. Learning new things broadens your horizons and allows you to meet new people.

 

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  1. Read Some Books

 

Make a list of those books you’ve always wanted to read and set time aside to read them. Bridget Jone’s Diary, Bossy Pants, and anything by Chelsea Handler are good places to start.

 

  1. Visit Your Library

 

Spend a couple of hours browsing your local library. Pick out some books and look at the information. There’s always something interesting to be found there. Who knows, you could purposefully run into a cute boy and fall in love in said library.

 

  1. Make Some Art

 

Forget any inhibitions and make some art. Take out your paints, glue and glitter and make something fun and creative! Don’t overthink it or try to make it perfect. Just go with your instincts. If your instincts say to draw a cat, your instincts are on the right track.

 

  1. Plan a Family Day

 

Plan a fun day for the whole family. Make some meals, plan some activities, or fire up the BBQ. Spend the day with the people closest to you. The next day you should plan on hiding in your room.

 

So those are some fun summer ideas for you all! Comment below and tell me what you’re doing this summer! Don’t forget to add me on Twitter and Instagram @CelinaTTolbert so we can keep in touch this summer!

Mini Quirky Giveaway!

It’s time for Quirking It Out’s first giveaway – a mini giveaway for my quirky friends and readers! I recently won an Instagram contest and was inspired to start my own giveaway to share the love with you – my friends, whether IRL or virtual. I’m holding a “mini” giveaway because I’m a broke college student, but still want to show love to my readers. I also know that this giveaway might only have two entrants – my friend Courtney (shoutout to this boss friend) and my mom – and that’s okay! However, for every 20 people entered (if we get above 20), I’ll add another surprise to the giveaway, so share with your friends. Or don’t – live your life.

The giveaway includes some heart lollipops, Victoria’s Secret Mints, some nice Katy Perry fake eyelashes (ooh lala, such beauty, much eyes), and a mini journal saying “LOVED” and a tiny Bible verse. Like I said, it’s a mini giveaway, but I hope it will make the winner smile!

This giveaway opens 2/22/16 at 12am and ends 2/29/16 at 12am. It is open to US residents over the age of 18 with a mailing address in the US. It is not affiliated with Instagram, Victoria’s Secret, Katy Perry, or Jesus. This is not sponsored. There will be one winner who I will announce on Twitter, Instagram, and here.

There are a few ways to enter:

  1. Follow me on Twitter @CelinaTTolbert and like the giveaway tweet
  2. Follow me on Instagram @CelinaTTolbert and like the giveaway image
  3. Follow me on WordPress (and comment below with your blog URL)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway and tag me @CelinaTTolbert
  5. Tag friends on my Instagram giveaway image (Please tag friends only once, and no celebrity/spam tags)

You can do one of these or all of them; the more you do, the more chances you have to win! A winner will be randomly picked after the giveaway is closed and will be announced within 24 hours.

Liebster Award Nomination

If you’re involved with the blogging world, you probably know that the Liebster Award is given out to new blogs. Basically the whole point is to discover new blogs and give each other a pat on the back. I was nominated by Jannika (and her two lovely cats!) over at Travel Without Ends, so thank you Jannika! Here are the questions she asked me, along with my nominations and my questions for my nominees!

 

  1. If I die tomorrow, where should I travel today (convince us!)? I have to say Paris! I am moving there for a year in June, so it would crazy for me to say anywhere else. I haven’t been there, but I feel the city of love calling to me, and I think it’s a place everyone should visit at some point. Also, if anyone reading this does visit Paris within the next year or so, reach out to me so we can meet up!
  2. Can you imagine to travel with a pet? I wish I could travel with my pet cat, Cheetah, as he is mischievous and would love the adventure, but taking him from America to Europe would be a bit difficult…also, I’m actually allergic to anything fluffy. However, this doesn’t stop me from wanting to adopt a cat in Paris!
  3. According to you what is the one thing we should do or keep in mind when travelling? Be open to trying crazy new things! Get off the beaten path and be spontaneous – don’t get stuck in a crazy strict itinerary.
  4. What do you always carry with you when travelling (apart from passport)? Some sort of lip product, usually a matte lipstick. I always try to look classy for my destination…although that doesn’t always happen.
  5. Did you ever regret to go on a journey or travel-related adventure? I haven’t regretted both the trips I have and haven’t taken; I think when a trip is meant to be, it’ll happen, and vice versa.
  6. Please give me one sentence that describes what travel means to you. Travel is the freedom to explore and discover new things not only about the world, but also about ourselves.
  7. What was the best food/ drink you tasted ever and where can I find it? The Shortberry Strawcake at Big Gay Ice Cream in NY, NY is delicious and holds lots of sweet memories for me, as I lived directly above the shop for 3 months. It’s a must do if you’re in the city!
  8. Your remedy for feeling lonely on a trip? Ask someone to coffee! If you have friends where you are, ask one of them; if you don’t, ask someone at your hostel or a fellow traveler you meet. Also, don’t stay in your room, go explore!
  9. If you had all the money in the world, how would it change the way you travel? I don’t think it would change that much. I’d probably travel a bit more, and maybe indulge in first class, but other than that, I wouldn’t want to change my traveling that much. Part of traveling is meeting new people and getting out of your comfort zone, which might be a bit hard if you lounge in a 5 star hotel all the time.
  10. Why do you blog? I blog to share my stories/memories/adventures/travels with others. I want to make people laugh and I am grateful that I can do so by doing something I love – writing.
  11. Can you show me your favourite inspirational quote or picture? One of my favorite quotes is from Coco Chanel, saying “The bravest thing you can do is to speak your mind.”

My nominations:

The Au Pair Blog

Ultimate Au Pair

Kallia’s Everyday Talks

The Travel Journal

The Soigne Soul

Gem Hunt

Realweegiemidget

Juggling Mother

Salwakisswani

Sarah’s Musings

eat.love.wear

 

My 11 questions for you:

  1. What inspires you?
  2. If you could visit me in Paris, what is one thing we’d have to do?
  3. What is your biggest goal with your blog?
  4. What is your biggest fear?
  5. Would you rather be wealthy stuck in one place or poor but able to go anywhere?
  6. Donuts or coffee?
  7. Most embarrassing moment?
  8. How do you start your day?
  9. What do you do when you don’t feel like writing?
  10. What’s the absolute best thing to watch on Netflix?
  11. Which of your dreams/goals scares you?

And with that, the Liebster is done! Be sure to tag me in your post so that I can read your answers!