Starting fresh and finding yourself in a new country

Episode Description

Ashlee is originally from the United States. In her early 20s, she decided that she wanted to move to a new country to start fresh without her family’s pressure.

Her way to move abroad was through an Au pair experience in Paris, France. She wanted to learn French, and she found a family host that was right for her. She liked it so much that she Au pair for three years. 

Last year she decided to move to Barcellona, Spain, to try something new and be closer to the sea. 

By moving abroad, she found herself and what she wants in life.


Get in touch with Ashlee

Website - Instagram


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Episode Transcript

Ashley 0:01

It's a journey. So you just arrived in this new country and you realize that you can be any thing you want to be. But the most important thing that I wanted to be was myself.

Daniel 0:18

Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode number 38 of the Emigrant's Life podcast where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. And through the stories you can find ideas, resources, and motivation to do the same. I'm Daniel De Biasi, and my guest this week is originally from the US a moved to Europe to become an Au Pair actually left the country to start fresh and learn more about herself and what she wants in life without the pressure or expectation from her family. Becoming an au pair was the easiest way for her to move to Europe. And she loved the experience so much that she did it for three years. Last September, Ashley decided to try something different. So she moved to Barcelona where she lives now with her boyfriend. Before moving to my conversation with Ashley, make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. It would be great if you could leave us a review on Apple podcast or pod chaser. And now without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Ashley.

Hi, Ashley. Thanks for being on the show.

Ashley 1:14

Hi, Daniel. Thanks for having me.

Daniel 1:17

Oh, it's my pleasure actually, I'm really happy to to having you here on the show.

Ashley 1:21

Thank you.

Daniel 1:22

Let's start from the beginning. Because you are from originally from the US a you now live in Barcelona, Spain.

Ashley 1:29

Yes.

Daniel 1:30

How did you end up in Spain in Barcelona? Can you quickly maybe walk me through the process to when you go to Barcelona?

Ashley 1:38

Yes. So right after high school, I grew up in Pasadena, Maryland, I moved to Los Angeles. And I was very lucky to be able to work in the music industry, my family. And it was great. And it was awesome. And during that time, I was able to travel around the world. But as I turned 23, I was slowly realizing that there actually might be another world out there. And I'm gonna go out there, and I'm gonna go search for it. And I'm gonna go find it. So I became an au pair. And I moved to Paris, France, and I was there for five years. And then just this recently, in September, I jumped from Paris to Barcelona.

Daniel 2:25

Okay, so you started as an au pair in Paris at 23. And when you decided to leave for Paris, was that idea to go explore a little bit outside of the US or did you have any other reason to leave the US?

Ashley 2:38

I think I just wanted a change of life. And I just sort of wanted to run away, I guess from you know, feeling sad and things like that, and just start a new life where I could actually learn about myself and learn about what I want from life.

Daniel 2:55

Okay, so it's kind of like a restarting, like, from scratch in another country.

Ashley 2:59

Exactly.

Daniel 3:00

So are you planning to move back to the US or you when you moved abroad? Do you realize that actually, life is better than other country.

Ashley 3:07

I love America dearly. But Europe is so cool. It's awesome. You have basic, you know, care, like health care, even it's so great to be able to walk down the street and not have to worry about something like that. I think what people don't understand in the US is that everything is quite expensive. So people will even think twice if they break their arm or if they fall in twist their ankle, they think twice about calling 911. I've heard so many people even say that they took an Uber to the hospital, because it's cheaper. So it's nice over here. Yeah.

Daniel 3:44

Yeah, actually, I experienced a little bit of that when I tried to go to the ER here in Canada when I was my home my work permit. So actually, when I was on my first visa, and just to get to see a doctor, so we'll be just confined in the ER was just $1,000 just to go through ER, and then plus the doctor expenses. Even then I decided not to go for it because they couldn't tell me how much that would cost and I think the insurance to cover it. So yeah, as you said, it's hard to pick a decison because you don't even know how much you're gonna spend.

Ashley 4:16

It's so interesting, isn't it? So it's kind of sad that you can't and and think about how many people are sick. But I mean, when you're sick, you don't really choose to get sick, right? You just kind of wake up and you're you're not feeling too well. So it's a bit sad when that happens to people and they're just swimming in debt or they just can't get the medicine that they need because they can't afford to go to the doctor.

Daniel 4:39

Yep, it's something that coming from Europe I never realized.

Ashley 4:42

Yeah.

Daniel 4:43

And also even even in New Zealand now that I think about it that if you have an accident in New Zealand, or everything is a is covered by the New Zealand government. If you even if you don't have a visa just a tourist or you have an accident on the mountain, the helicopter will come and pick you up to take to the hospital. You don't have to pay anything.

Ashley 4:59

No way.

Daniel 5:00

Yeah.

Ashley 5:01

Wow, I hope that they change it soon. Do you think Canada will change it? Or no?

Daniel 5:06

I think Canada is different. I think at that time I have to pay just because I didn't have a visa I don't, I wasn't, I was called to pretty much the health benefits. I wasn't paid for it. Because I couldn't pay because I was on a different visa. Once I got the visa, once I got the job, I got the work permit, in the case of stuff, paying those I think 70 bucks a month, and you have insurance coverage. So I know I think it will be different now. But yeah, it was different before even like go for me going mountain biking, knowing that if I break it cost you an arm and a leg was pretty careful. And how long have you been in Europe so far?

Ashley 5:44

I've been here for five years now, almost six.

Daniel 5:47

Why do you decide to do an Au Pair? Was that because it was easier to was the easiest way to go to Europe?

Ashley 5:53

Well, it was because actually, I wanted to go to the UK. But you can't really get a visa from US, UK because we both speak English. So that was a bit difficult. And I was thinking about then going to Spain. But then I just thought France was I was like, well, I could go to Paris and learn how to speak French. And that's it. I'm gonna go and I'm gonna learn French because I didn't know any French before I before I got there.

Daniel 6:22

Oh, really? So nothing. So how was your experience there. Because you have to work, you have to live with a family with a French family. How was your experience?

Ashley 6:30

It was pretty intense at times. But then at the same time, it was some of the best moments of my life. So I was really lucky. And I had the Au Pair experience where I had my own apartment because not many people I mean, it depends on what your experience is but some people actually have to live with family. But I didn't. I had my own apartment and I was an au pair to three kids and they were absolutely great. The parents were amazing as well. And I just became a part of this French family. It was so bad, Daniel. I was such an American. I didn't even know how to cook. You want to know what I did?

Daniel 7:07

Yeah.

Ashley 7:07

So the kids were like, We want carpaccio for dinner. I was like, Okay, fine. So I go in the refrigerator, and I'm like, carpaccio, what is that? So I find it and it's meat. But guess what I did? I put it on the stove, and I cooked it. Because in America. Sometimes we don't really eat raw meat. So I didn't know. And I cooked it and the kids are like, where's carpaccio, and I'm like, it's right here. And they're like, no, it's cooked. I said, Oh, my gosh, yeah, that's what you're supposed to do, it's meat. They're like, No, no, no, no, no, we've got a lot to teach you. So I had so much to learn. I didn't know any French. It was a whirlwind. But thank goodness, I had the kids and they were not afraid to be honest with me and correct me when I'm speaking wrong. And I actually felt a lot more comfortable learning with them, because they were kids. And so I was teaching them English. And they were teaching me French. And so we allowed each other to make mistakes. And we both taught each other a great thing, which is another language. So I'm so grateful for those children in France. There's so much culture and history and food and wine. And there's all these great art things that brands us offer that I learned and I'll never forget them. So it was it was actually a really great experience. And it shaped me into who I am today.

Daniel 8:30

So the reason why you managed to get this au pair because the family wants to teach English to their kids.

Ashley 8:36

Yeah.

Daniel 8:37

How long do you did do they'll pair with his family?

Ashley 8:39

I was there with them for three years, actually.

Daniel 8:42

Oh, wow. That was a long time.

Ashley 8:44

We definitely became very close. We became much like family and I went on every holiday vacation that they went on as well. I was literally family. So it was great.

Daniel 8:55

How was your French now?

Ashley 8:57

[speaks in French] I can speak French. I have a terrible accent. But I'm trying but it's I can have a conversation in French and I'm very happy about it.

Daniel 9:08

Okay, so you're perfectly fluent. You can have a conversation, you can understand them. So you're pretty much fluent in French.

Ashley 9:14

Yes.

Daniel 9:15

How long did you think it took you to get to the point where you could have a conversation in French?

Ashley 9:19

Wow, two years.

Daniel 9:20

Okay.

Ashley 9:21

Two years, for sure. Two years, and thankfully every day was an intense course. You know, I had four hours with the kids, four to six hours every day Monday through Friday. So yeah, two years definitely.

Daniel 9:34

Okay. Wow. And so after three years that you were there in Paris, why did you decide to move to Barcelona?

Ashley 9:40

Well, Paris is great, but I always have had the love for the sea and the sand and, and Barcelona is a beautiful beautiful city. It's there's just a vibe like no other. Have you been to Barcelona?

Daniel 9:54

I did just for a day.

Ashley 9:56

Just a day?

Daniel 9:58

Yes. I mean, as you probably know flying in Europe is really cheap, right? Yeah. And I think it was around 2009, where Ryanair was like crazy cheap to fly around Europe. So I would just take a day off from work. So I didn't even have to take the day off. I could actually work on Saturday and have a free day over the week. So we'll just go somewhere in Europe for a day was much cheaper, didn't have to pay for accommodation. It was just a way to get away from for a day and see a different city. And so I visited many cities in Europe and I went to Barcelona just for a day. We get there in the morning and came back at night.

Ashley 10:31

Wow. That's so cool.

Daniel 10:33

Yeah, it was like a $20 or not actually 20 euros. You can go like a fly and return. So why not?

Ashley 10:38

Wow. And did you like it?

Daniel 10:40

Yes, I did. I did. I remember like the architecture. I mean, the Sagrada Familia is it's stunning.

Ashley 10:47

It's beautiful. It's It's such a great city, and it's a beach city, where everyone's pretty laid back and, and in terms of how they dress and how they express themselves, and everyone's on rollerblades and skateboarding and parents are with kids on their bikes to school. It's such a great feeling. Everyone's pretty lively, and, and always smiling and dancing and eating. So I absolutely love Barcelona.

Daniel 11:14

And then you move to Barcelona, you have to learn another language or so you didn't know Spanish before?

Ashley 11:21

I didn't know any Spanish before either. No. So now I'm trying to learn Spanish. Yes. And in Barcelona, since it's in Catalonia, then you need to learn Catalan as well.

Daniel 11:32

Is it easier, because you know, French, and maybe French is similar to Spanish more than English is?

Ashley 11:37

It is actually quite similar. Catalan is very similar to French, which is awesome. And then French to Spanish is pretty close in terms of it, but it's all easy. I think it's just when you know, so many languages in your mind. You're just, you always need to think before you speak, if that makes sense.

Daniel 11:56

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, totally makes sense. Do you mix the two or three?

Ashley 12:00

All the time, especially here sometimes in Barcelona, because Thank you, in Catalan is Merci and Merci is thanks in French, so sometimes I just blurt out something in French and then they look at me like What did you say? I'm like, Uh oh.

Daniel 12:16

Oh, thank you is merci in-

Ashley 12:19

Yeah, in Catalan. And it's also the same in French they just pronounce it a bit differently. But yeah, it's, there's a lot of the same words.

Daniel 12:28

So it's I don't know, I'm completely ignorant here. I thought it was like a more similar to Spanish, which will be gracias in Spanish, right?

Ashley 12:35

Yeah. So Spanish, is gracias Yes. And then in Catalan, it's merci. Like you don't have the the French merci in it.

Daniel 12:43

Okay.

Ashley 12:43

Yes, exactly. And so yeah, there's a lot of French words in Catalan.

Daniel 12:49

Oh, crazy. So we actually weren't calling in your favor. If you want to know some other Valencia, for example, would be completely Spanish.

Ashley 12:58

Right.

Daniel 12:59

Okay. That's cool. What's your plan? Are you planning to stay in Barcelona, you already planned to just I don't know, thinking to move to a different city, different country,

Ashley 13:08

I would love to move again. I think, you know, you kind of need to spend some time a little bit establishing yourself. And I like to also try to make sure that I'm legal in every country that I'm going to, just in case, you never know. So I like to take time to sort of develop a little bit of time and, and get legal. And then but as soon as I'm, I'm legal, and I have traveled all of Spain and seeing what Spain has to offer. I think I'm going to pack my bags, and we'll see where life takes me. But yeah, I'm ready to go again.

Daniel 13:39

So what's your visa status? How did you manage to stay longer in Europe?

Ashley 13:43

I was very lucky in France that I got work visa. It's called a French tech visa. So it's a visa for five years, if you're working in the tech industry. So what happened was, after my three years of au pairing, I decided to go back into working back, you know, nine to five jobs again, and I found a tech company. And so they were able to sponsor me as an American, and I received a five year visa, which is great. And then when I came here to Spain, I actually had to get like a civil union ship with my boyfriend. And then from there, I was able to apply and I get my NIE next month. I'm so excited.

Daniel 14:31

Oh, sorry. What was what are you getting next month?

Ashley 14:33

And NIE? So it's like by national it's like my ID number in Spain.

Daniel 14:38

Oh, to to to be able to work? Exactly. Yes. Oh, it's like our process to get one.

Ashley 14:44

There's actually really great lawyers out here who can really help deal with with those things quite easily. They're not that expensive. You're just paying for them to basically get you in the system, to be honest with you. So it was actually pretty easy. I didn't need to spend that much.

Daniel 15:02

So for me it was Europe is a big country for was one big country. So I thought coming from Italy, I don't know much about the immigration process in Europe, I fall because you once you get into one country in Europe, you can easily move to and travel to other ones and work in other ones.

Ashley 15:17

Yeah, because you're European. So you're actually from Italy. So you're part of the EU, but I'm American, so we can't do that here, unfortunately.

Daniel 15:26

So every country you go, you need a permit to work in the country?

Ashley 15:29

Exactly. Yes.

Daniel 15:31

Okay. Kind of makes sense. But at the same time, yeah, kind of doesn't.

But yeah, I guess that's the way that the face work. Plus, in your position old country, the rules are old fashioned. It's gonna take up a long time before they can unify the visa process in Europe.

Ashley 15:52

I know.

Daniel 15:52

Do you find like what's the biggest difference found between US and Europe?

Ashley 15:57

I'm really sad sometimes to think about my country, because we see we have a lot of racism in the US. And it's really, really big. And it's not to say that it stopped big in Europe, but I think in the US, it's very much like, what's your color? If that makes sense? It's very like, Oh, she's black, or she's white? Or she's Asian? It's so defined by those rules. Whereas in Europe, everyone asks, Where are you from, and it's like, oh, I'm Italian. I'm Spanish. I'm French. And that's so nice to not have that judgment. I mean, obviously, there's racism everywhere. But for the most part in Europe, it's always about where you're from. And that's really nice. So it's nice to be looked at here as as an American, and it's a really great thing. And Europe is just so easily you can get around so easy. It's so great to be able, like you are doing just to go from Italy, and just hop on a flight, and you're in Barcelona, and you're in another country in a whole different language and culture. So it's really nice to be able to have all of that access in such a small place, if that makes sense to us is really, really big. So it's not easy to do that.

Daniel 17:13

Yeah. Yeah. As you said, like, Europe is not that big, but you just change country, as you say there's different cultures, different food. So even I can go to Spain for the Spanish food for the paella. I can go in Italy for the pizza and stuff to France baget.

Ashley 17:30

The list goes on and on. It's so great.

Daniel 17:34

Yeah, and this is it's so easy to travel around Europe. That's what I miss about living in Europe. It's so it's travel and cheap to travel out.

Ashley 17:44

Oh, it's so cheap.

Daniel 17:45

And I guess I'll ask you this question anyway. But do you have any regrets about leaving your country?

Ashley 17:51

No way. I think it was the best decision of my life to be honest. Definitely.

Daniel 17:56

What's the biggest upset about leaving your country.

Ashley 17:59

Oh you miss your family, for sure. You're pretty far away from everyone. And it's just different ways of life. In the US, other things are a little bit more important. And in Europe, you know, most places in Europe, Sunday's things are close, they're not open, you don't have the luxury of going to the store and getting the things you need to do. And I love that about Europe, but just my family is what I missed. Do you know what I mean?

Daniel 18:29

Oh, totally, totally. That's the biggest part of when you're living abroad. I mean, in a way for me, for other people I interview leaving is actually make your bond stronger with your family or your friends. Just because it's because there is a distance that you see each other every once in a while that the quality of the relationship I think improved, at least that was for me definitely improved. And you talked about that you left the US because he wanted to restart your life. And I think I I spoke about this with with my previous guests, Louise, that even she said that she interviewed for a book of immigrants and part of the reason why people leave their countries to have this kind of sort of anonymity that you start a new country nobody knows who you are, you can start fresh you can be all you want to be UK if you have like this freedom to feel like it. You don't have any nothing imposed to you by your friends, by your family, you can be anything you can want to be. How was your experience from their point of view when you move to Paris,

Ashley 19:32

Wow, that was it's a journey. And it's she's absolutely right. So you just arrived in this new country and you realize that you can be any thing you want to be. But the most important thing that I wanted to be was myself and so I put myself in a lot of situations. Maybe I wouldn't have put myself in before which allowed me to sort of face my fears and and find out answers about myself then maybe I wasn't really Ready to notice, if that makes sense. It's a freeing experience that I wish everyone had the opportunity to try. I mean, everyone wants to be their best selves. And so to be able to go to another country and just walk down the streets and be you completely you is really cool.

Daniel 20:20

So you think you couldn't have the same kind of situation if you didn't leave your your country?

Ashley 20:26

No, I don't think so. There's a lot of pressure. And coming from my family and how I grew up, there's definitely a lot of pressure that I don't think was intentional by my family. But it was definitely there. And there was a standard that I just know, I wasn't able to keep up with. And it just wasn't me. And I wanted to stay true to that and stay true to myself.

Daniel 20:51

Because I mean, US is such a big country, and moving from one side to the other one that could could feel like in a certain way that you start all over, do you think that will be wouldn't be possible if you moved somewhere else in the US so because still the same country, same culture, you didn't feel free to do to be yourself?

Ashley 21:09

I think you're right, I definitely could have, let's say, could have moved to New York, right? Go from LA to New York, or something like that, and be in a whole different different space. But I think there's just something different when you're able to put yourself in a place where you completely have to adapt and use all of your senses and, and not understand the language and push yourself to try new things and to sit back and actually learn. Because when you move to another country, you're learning so much. Every day your eyes are seeing something new, you're smelling new smells, you know, you have to learn how to get around, how are you going to get food, you don't speak the language, what are you going to do? What's your body language of how to ask someone for help? There's so many things that go into that. And I think I was ready to experience that actually.

Daniel 22:03

And correct me if I'm wrong, even because for me, when I went in New Zealand, and because I didn't know much about the country probably you didn't know anything about the country and the culture and the lifestyle and how people lived. And I saw people being, I don't know, maybe more wealthy, living a better lifestyle than I saw people in Italy, they were looking more stressed and more things. So even then not knowing the country and seeing people more epic, make me realize that, oh, maybe this country actually can give you their freedom, even not knowing what actually what the country can give you the lifestyle and the country can give you just a little bit more hope that things can be better. And even just that makes you feel like it makes you want to change and adapt to the country and have hope that things can actually work out for the best. And that's why I was asking that question about the US because even though you move to another few to another part of the country, but you still kind of know, the culture. So you know, kind of what to expect but if you move to Europe, everything is new, as you said, and you have to start fresh. And and that's I think, where really gives you the freedom, I think to experiment with yourself and the things you can do. So true.

Ashley 23:13

Very, very true.

Daniel 23:14

And did you have any challenges when you move to Europe? Did you have to face any challenges?

Ashley 23:19

Yeah, I think it's really hard to figure out where and how you're going to establish yourself, right? Because you get into a new country, and you need to learn, what's the system, if that makes sense? And what's like, what's minimum wage? What do you need to survive? How do you progress in the future of being an immigrant? So there's a lot of pressure like that, and especially with your visa and things like that, and that part is always stressful? It's always where you learn the most. But I feel like finding getting a visa that kind of stuff is really tough, so tough.

Daniel 23:58

Yeah, I put so much pressure and stress into into the situation.

So much pressure. Did you ever have one of those times, like in New Zealand, where you just weren't sure, if you were actually going to get it? And you just did you ever feel like that?

Oh, totally, that's why I got the visa for Canada, because at the time, so I applied for the PR for the permanent residency earlier. And it got denied because of some situation because of my company because of the company I was working for. So when I had to renew my visa to stay in New Zealand, I had a problem and maybe because I was still working for the same company, my visa might be might got rejected again. And so I decided to have a plan B that I think is very important when you are living abroad having a plan B especially if you don't want to go back to your country, you need to have a plan B and my plan B was Canada. So when I apply for the work permit in Canada, and actually the both got approved and a year to get into Canada and I thought okay, let's see how things go is in New Zealand. If things don't move in New Zealand, I will just go to Canada. And in fact, things are going on the same in New Zealand, nothing has changed. So I decided to go to Canada, but Canada for me was always a plan B because I was too afraid to go back to Italy. Yeah, and here in Canada was like different because I was in a situation where I didn't even know if I could get a visa. So it wasn't me and my girlfriend at the time, and we both didn't know if I could stay in the country or not. So even that part of that's the worst part. I think when you're in the in the limbo that you don't know what to do with your life, are you gonna get a job, you're not gonna get the job. The money you got a day will be enough for you to stay in the country and move to another country. That's there's a lot of things there. Yeah. When you're in the limbo is so stressful, especially if you're in a relationship, because if you are in a relationship I've been I don't even know what that means if you have a family, but in our relationship, which I experienced, it was just it's not just about me, it's about the other person as well. Even other person is their life is related. It's in a ways it's connected to my situation.

Ashley 26:00

It's very true. So yeah, that definitely, I totally get that. That's definitely stressful.

Daniel 26:06

Did you have a similar situation with your partner?

Ashley 26:08

Thankfully, I well, when I moved to France, I thankfully went through the whole process of getting a visa myself. And I knew how incredibly stressful it was. So my partner actually is Lithuanian. So he has his EU passport. And he lives in Spain. And so when I when I got here, I said, Okay, look, you know, I don't want to put any pressure on you to say like, okay, let's get married or something like that. But I think you have to understand that as I'm coming to this country, I need to have a plan B. So I need to have an ID because if something goes wrong, or if you and I break up or something, I need to be able to work. And so I explained that to him. And he was he was quite helpful in that way. And he understood and we have a civil union partnership here in Spain, which allowed me to get a working visa, because if I didn't have that with him, I wouldn't have a working visa, I would only have a student visa, and you can't really work on those visas. So thankfully, he was quite understanding to that. But if you don't have a partner, that's understanding, it gets a little hard.

Daniel 27:21

Oh, totally, totally. But even like, I've been in that situation, and that's why I didn't want to do something similar when I went to Ghana with my girlfriend because I didn't want our relationship to be any way I don't know affected or influenced.

Ashley 27:35

Yeah. Like Yeah, influenced, intertwined, connected with each other. Yeah.

Daniel 27:40

Yeah. Even especially for her like, uh, is this guy stays with me because he loves me or whatever, or it stays with me, because otherwise he has to leave the country. So didn't want to be in the situation.

Ashley 27:51

Yeah, I get it. But do you think that how would you change that now?

Daniel 27:55

What do you mean?

Ashley 27:56

I mean, meaning like, if you wouldn't have gotten the visa part situation, got it sorted out in Canada? Would you have gone back to Italy actually?

Daniel 28:04

No, no, I wouldn't. I would, I would have been called back to New Zealand because I still had the visa in New Zealand.

Ashley 28:10

Okay

Ashley 28:11

Do you feel comfortable also going to countries without being legal?

Daniel 28:16

No, no, no, it's already stressful when you have a visa and no, no, no, no, I wouldn't to. No, I can't do that. It's just so stressful. There's no point. There's no point especially I'm pretty lucky I have a good passport. I have good skills. So hugely. so far. I've never had problems finding a sponsor finding a visa. So I don't even know maybe if I if I'm desperate. If I don't have a choice, maybe I would I don't know. But as I said, I'm being pretty lucky. And I'm privileged I came from a good country. I mean, good for immigration. Yeah. And do you feel Do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?

Ashley 28:55

I feel so lucky. I feel privileged, if that makes sense. I feel like I've seen so many amazing things. And I just wish I could share them with everyone. But it's so great being put out of your comfort zone and you learn so much about yourself. You grow and you learn great things and meet amazing people the best experience.

Daniel 29:20

Yeah. And actually, now that you have changed, because we went to Europe, you were able to be yourself, you will learn so much. So in a way you have changed the person who you are. Do you think you'll be able to go back to the US and be the same person or you think you'd be still affected by the circumstances there?

Ashley 29:38

Oh, wow, that is a really great question. It's hard to go back home, but it's also easy to go back home. If that makes any sense. You have some friends who have traveled and things like that are just friends that you haven't seen in a long time. So when you see them again, it's nice but then there's also always the people that haven't left. And they're kind of in the same spot doing the same thing. And that's totally fine. But sometimes I find myself not knowing what to what to say or how to be. It's interesting. Do you? Are you ever like that?

Daniel 30:15

Oh, totally, totally. I love my friends in Italy, they're like I really love them. But at the same time, I don't see myself being able to live there anymore. I can't relate with them. I just have deal with experience it's a different situation that I don't know. I feel like I don't think we'll be able to have the same kind of relationship in a way even though I still love them. I was like a great friends. I don't think we can have the same level of experience in life to have a deep conversation. I don't even sometimes I talk to them and I don't feel like they fully understand what I'm going through and what my experience really are. Because they're never they've never experienced that. So that's a challenge.

Ashley 30:57

Such challenge.

Daniel 30:58

Yeah

Ashley 30:58

Yeah, I agree with that. 100%. And it's different when you've seen and done different things. It's, it's hard.

Daniel 31:05

Yeah, totally. We grow so much when you move abroad.

Ashley 31:08

Yeah

Daniel 31:08

Things like in situation like this one, you have to put yourself out there and completely outside of your comfort zone. There's no way you can be the same person. There's no way no, there's no way. So yeah. And is there anything that you would have done differently that now that you know what, you know, now? Is there anything you would done differently?

Ashley 31:26

I don't think so. I think the way everything planned out was awesome. I just wish though, that before making the move to jump to France, I would have studied a little bit more about where I was going. If I had to change anything, that would be the only thing that I would change to where you would have been able to learn meaning no, when people ask me now they're like, Oh, I would love to be an au pair. How do I be one? What's one thing that I need to do, and I always say to them, you need to be excited about the place that you're going. I love France so much, but I love Spain even more. And I wish that before I hadn't made that jump to France that I actually would have spent just a little bit more time researching each country a little bit more that I was looking to go to or in Europe or wherever. And I think if you research before you go, you can find little things that you can connect with. So that when you go you have a little connection, that makes sense.

Daniel 32:28

Yes, I totally understand. But the same time, I don't know, sometimes you don't really know. What do you need or what are you looking for? So even sometimes, maybe you can do your research, maybe you decided that I was Spain was like a more suitable for your lifestyle. Maybe you go to France to France, and you actually Oh, actually, there was something that there's a city in France that I wasn't expecting that I would like, man, I don't know, for me like having, knowing in advance, that's just my point of view. And knowing in advance, what are you going to impose some kind of expectation, what even the expectation that maybe you read a book or you read a guide, you watch a video on YouTube that talks about France and Paris. And those people like involuntarily they put an expectation of the place because that's the way they felt in their country, they can tell you that Paris is the best city, whatever. And you go there with some expectation, and maybe you get disappointed. And for me No, no going there when knowing nothing about the country. I think it's ego that we like a blank piece of paper and you just create your piece of art, like a blank canvas this year. Yeah, that's my point of view. And also, I don't usually plan much so. But no, I'm saying that because when I left Italy, I was fascinated by like, probably because watching movies, you'll see like big cities and skyscrapers and you get fascinated by that. And then I moved to New Zealand, middle nowhere. And I found that that's actually the place I like to be in the middle of nowhere. I'm not going to see this that much. I think it's just like a, I don't know, a fantasy creating your mind. And it's projected by what you've watched on TV, at least that was for me, without them saying that everybody is the same. But I don't know, maybe watch like a romantic comedy in Paris and you fell in love with the place and you go there and experience completely different? I don't know.

Ashley 34:13

No, you're totally right. I wouldn't have changed anything. But if I could, that would just be the only thing.

Daniel 34:19

Okay, and speaking of like, things to know, in advance, how did you find out about Au Pair? And what kind of research did you do before you do au pair?

Ashley 34:27

I just googled ways to get a visa to live in Europe, and a few of them were work, obviously. And then other ones. If you had families who are living overseas, you could get a visa which I didn't have. And so opare popped up and I spent a few time going through websites and creating a profile and trying to find the perfect little family. I guess you could say.

Daniel 34:52

How were you able to find a family? What was the thing you were looking for in a family?

Ashley 34:57

I think I was looking for a family that would be willing to accept me as like someone that's a part of the family. I think it's really, you know that i think it's a interesting concept. Because what if you go in and, you know, one of the kids doesn't like you or something like that, how is your relationship with the parents going to be? And so I just really wanted to make sure that I was getting myself into a place where people wanted me around. And if I could feel that and have that, then I was willing to give whatever I possibly could back to the kids. And I showed that and I, I spent three years there, and we we definitely made that happen. I, I feel very, very lucky. But having that compassion, when you don't know anything, or something's completely new to you, it was definitely comforting.

Daniel 35:52

So I guess you met this family over Skype or over the internet before you move there?

Ashley 35:57

Yeah, I made a little profile on this website called Au Pair World. It's great. It's one of the best opener websites. And I reached out to them, and they already had maybe 124 applicants. So sending in that occasion, I was like, wow, I don't know if I'm gonna get this one. But the mom was was really, really great. And actually, they were in Los Angeles before I went to France. So that was the best part is that they were on vacation in Los Angeles. And I met up with them and said, Hey, to everyone, and it was it just honestly just worked out. So great. But yeah.

Daniel 36:38

That's pretty lucky.

Ashley 36:39

It was really lucky. Right? Yeah. So lucky. It was coincidence. But I think it's part of the journey. I love that. Yeah.

Daniel 36:47

Honestly, I my situation, even like other people. That seems like when you are putting your mind into something, things just go in your way and just make things happen. Just things a line in front of you like a path.

Ashley 36:58

So true.

Daniel 36:59

I don't know. I'm not a spiritual or anything. But I can be just a coincidence. I'd like to think that something else is otherwise.

Ashley 37:08

It's so boring to not think it's a coincidence. Yes. It's a coincidence.

Daniel 37:12

Yeah, exactly. I don't know, some kind of message or whatever that tells you that you're on the right path.

Ashley 37:18

Yeah.

Daniel 37:19

Awesome. And do you have any particular advice that you want to give to the listeners that are maybe planning to move abroad?

Ashley 37:25

Yes, jump and go. And be excited about the journey. It may seem hard, and they'll definitely be good days. And they will definitely be bad days. But be excited about that journey. And when you're stuck in the middle of a country, and you have no idea where to go? Or what to do. Just smile a little bit before you get angry or annoyed or just frustrated at the situation. Just smile, that you have the ability to use all of your senses, and experience life in a new way. That's one thing. You should really do. Smile at all of that.

Daniel 38:07

Yeah, that's beautiful. Smile is free. Yeah. And if people wants to get in touch with you what's the best way to find you?

Ashley 38:16

You guys can find me on my website at www.ashleebraxton.com.

Daniel 38:24

Perfect. And you have a big presence on Instagram as well. Right?

Ashley 38:27

I do. It's growing. And I'm happy to be that person in your day when you're on Instagram and you're scrolling through. I love having a good quote or just just some good mental health tips. I think there's a lot we can offer people. So you can follow me on Instagram at @ashleybraxton.

Daniel 38:47

You also have a podcast that you started not long ago, right?

Ashley 38:51

Yeah.

Daniel 38:52

Do you want to talk about your podcast? And what do you do?

Ashley 38:54

Yeah, so I am a mental health advocate. And actually, Daniel will be on my podcasts as well. And I think I'm here to just share stories of people who have done extraordinary things. And it's just to say that we all have a story and hearing someone else's story can change your perspective on life. And it can also allow you just to find a connection within people and have a little bit of compassion. So I'm out here spreading, spreading those stories and and getting people the help that they need. But the how by connecting with another human. I think that's what we're missing a little bit. So that's what my podcast is about.

Daniel 39:37

And you're doing a great job with your podcast and such as the story that you share they're amazing, and the guests you're having and they're just beautiful stories and I'm always grateful to be part of your podcast and share my perspective about this topic that not many people are talking about.

Ashley 39:54

No and thank you for being on there and being so honest, I appreciate it.

Daniel 39:58

No worries. It was actually was pretty to do it. Okay, Ashley, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your story on my podcast. I really appreciate it.

Ashley 40:06

Thank you, Daniel.

Daniel 40:07

Okay, bye bye.

Ashley 40:09

Bye

Daniel 40:10

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can find the show notes with everything we discussed in this episode at emigrantslife.com/episode38. If you want to support the show, you can share this episode with your friends even leave us a review on Apple podcast and pod chaser. Do you want to be my next guest and share your story in this podcast? You can visit emigrantslife.com/yourstory. You can also find us on social media just search for Emigrant's Life or you can reach out to me directly at [email protected]. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you next one. Ciao.