My father is British and my mother is French Canadian. My dad emigrated to Canada in the 60s, met and married my mum there, then they popped to London ‘for a year’ and have never moved back! My two older brothers and I were born and raised in England, with yearly visits to our Canadian family – both in Québec and to visit our Canadian snowbird grandparents in Florida. While I am by no means a native French speaker, it’s a huge part of my culture and heritage and I wanted to acknowledge it in my blog name. ‘Dani dit cou cou = Dani says hi’! My eldest brother has lived in Moscow, Russia for the past 20 years and my elder brother, whilst living currently in London, has also lived and traveled abroad extensively.
Finding my Travel Feet
In 1997, after graduating from high school, I lived and worked in a bilingual school in the mountains of Honduras for a year. I remember when I heard I had been placed there, through a charity called Project Trust, I didn’t even know where it was!
The first few weeks were some of the hardest of my life. It didn’t help that I very quickly contracted dengue fever and was completely delirious for several weeks. But, slowly, I made fast friends with the other girls I had been posted with, and completely fell in love with the kindergarten class I had been assigned to teach.
We traveled all over the country, including the ancient Mayan Copan Ruins and the beautiful Bay Islands. We made friends with locals our age, and drank rum and coke with them at the local hang-out spot – the Shell garage!
It was a definitive point in my life – realizing how much I enjoyed being abroad and learning another language, culture and people.
Keep on Moving
At university I studied French and Italian and spent 10 weeks in Lille, France and 10 months in Milan, Italy. Surprisingly, these experiences were harder and lonelier than my year in Central America, but they taught me to take a deep breath and push through when things get tough.
After university, in 2002, I took a ‘gap year’ with some uni girlfriends. We traveled to Fiji; spent two months driving around New Zealand in a 1960s Triumph; lived and worked in Bondi Beach, Australia for five months; traveled around Australia for another two months; visited Bali, Singapore and Thailand … It was the most incredible year.
And while it solidified the idea that I wanted to incorporate travel into my career, I also realized that moving on every few days, weeks or even months, wasn’t the life for me.
And Move Again
And so I went home, moved back in with mum and dad and studied to become a teacher. Two years later, I got a job teaching in an international school in Chicago, USA!
I hadn’t been in Chicago for more than a week when I realized I had fallen in love. This city has a very special quality about it. And somehow I have been here for the past thirteen years! So while I haven’t moved abroad as much as I expected, living in North America and having long vacations has allowed me to travel and explore in my perfect time increments (1 – 6 weeks!) and inspired my motto: Teach. Travel. Repeat!