A Home Away From Home

I just needed to get away and do something completely different

If you’ve read my Introduction to Travel, you’ll know that I used to live in Ireland. It was right after high school, so I was only 19 at the time. I knew I wasn’t ready to keep studying, and in fact, I didn’t even know if I ever wanted to. I was so sick of classes and homework, assignments and exams; I just needed to get away and do something completely different.

I really wanted to travel, but I didn’t have any money, so I thought about combining work and travel somehow. I didn’t have any useful skills or much work experience, so I wasn’t sure what I could do – other than babysitting. After all, I’d grown up with a sister who’s eight years younger than me (no need to mention that I often forgot to pick her up from daycare, and left the house to go rollerskating while she was napping – oopsies!).
Anyway, I found a website for Au Pairs and searched for families in different countries. The States was my first choice, but all of a sudden it seemed very far away!

At the time, my cousin (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and I had been to Ireland two or three times to see the boyband Westlife, so I felt somewhat familiar with Dublin. I knew it was relatively safe, that people were friendly and that it wasn’t more than a two-hour flight away from home, so it didn’t seem as scary. I also desperately wanted to practice my English, so it seemed like a great match.

I got in contact with a family with two girls of age four and five that seemed very nice. We spoke on the phone a couple of times, and then set a date for me to arrive. I was excited and nervous, but everything turned out great: The kids were smart, funny and so well-behaved. One threat of a time-out, and they turned into angels! The parents were welcoming and took such good care of me, and we lived in a beautiful and safe neighborhood.

Here I am with “my” girls and their cousin (on film, hence the crap quality)

My duties included getting the girls ready for school and Montessori, pick them up, do their laundry, cook them lunch and dinner (poor babies), and babysit one night a week, so the parents could go out. After a few months, the mother of the family had to go stay with her dying father in Canada, so I got more responsibility. I didn’t complain, though; I had weekends off, room and board, a car at my disposal (didn’t have a license, though), got a decent wage and absolutely adored the girls. I even started dating an Irish guy.

I’ll always consider Ireland my home away from home

However, after having been there for half a year, I started getting a little bored. Every day was the same, I didn’t get out much during the week and I felt like I’d explored enough of Dublin. I spent more time with little children than I did with adults, and the only intellectual input I had was the books I read. I was 19, and I felt like a stay-at-home housewife, and I definitely wasn’t ready for that.

So, when my other cousins’ stepfather reached out and asked if I wanted to work at his campsite in Copenhagen that summer, I agreed and left Ireland two months later. I’ve been back to Dublin three times after that, but only saw the girls once. A year after I left, they moved to Canada, where the mother’s from.
However, during my stay, I babysat the girls’ cousin frequently and I still see that part of the family, when I’m in Dublin.

For my birthday last year, I received a voucher for a trip to Ireland from my cousin and a mutual friend. We’re planning on doing a road-trip this time to see all the beautiful nature, and I can’t wait to go back. It’s been six years since we were there last, and it’ll be great to add something new! I think I’ll always consider Ireland my home away from home ❤

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