2011 – The Year of Travel

Year 2011 treated me very well. It was indeed the year of travel. Come to think of it, I was home for only about a quarter of the entire year. So how did it end? Just how I imagined it… TRAVELING!

The recent holidays have been my most memorable ever. Aside from the fact that it was my first time to be away from family and friends back home, it was my first time to spend the season doing what I love the most. In a span of nine days, I have been in ten different cities. I met so many amazing people along the way, experienced a lot of different things and saw a bit more of what France’s neighboring countries have to offer. Here are just seven things I learned during my first backpacking experience in Europe:

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My very first Christmas away from Home

I am so concerned about getting homesick ever since I arrived here in France. More so that it’s the holiday season, I felt that it would really be hard for me to enjoy it considering that it’s the first time I am celebrating Christmas outside the Philippines aside from the fact that this is the longest I have been away from family and friends.

In an apartment inhabited by four different nationalities (2 French, Spanish, Slovenian and Filipino), I woke up this Christmas eve morning alone. Four eventually decided to spend it elsewhere and I decided that I wanted to stay in Paris. Luckily, my manager saved me from a potential homesickness attack when he invited me last Wednesday to spend the Christmas eve dinner with his entire family – “Noche Buena” French-style.

I have enjoyed myself seeing how they celebrate Christmas – with a very sumptuous meal course, various fine wines, sugary delights, lively conversations among family members, a unique gift-giving tradition where kids peer from the kitchen’s glass-paned door to see someone dressed up as Santa Claus place gifts below the Christmas tree in the living room (while he’s eating a carrot and drinking milk) and finally seeing everyone enjoy the gifts they got (I received one too!).

It was a big celebration as there were 22 family members and then me. I thought it would be kind of awkward at first but I was pleasantly surprised that everyone has been genuinely warm and accommodating. Indeed, it has been a memorable Christmas 2011! I may not have been with my real family this year but it was great experiencing it with a French family who knows how to celebrate it well.

Joyeux Noël

How will I spend Christmas?

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Whew! Time flew by so fast and it’s already December. I’ve been enjoying my time here and I never felt homesick until I saw that Coca-Cola Christmas commercial made especially for OFWs/Filipinos abroad. I know what I’m feeling is nothing compared to … Continue reading