Byron BaY Skincare
One of my favorite parts of living abroad is getting to test out unique, local beauty and wellness products specific to the region surrounding my new home. Instead of bringing over a suitcase full of products, why not take advantage of local natural remedies and ingredients that are specifically formulated to your new climate? It's also a great way to support local businesses.
Living on the flip side
May. May Day. Mother's Day. Flowers should be blooming. Young animals should be emerging from nests, dens, burrows. The weather should be calm, soothing, warm. Outdoor activities and BBQs should be on the agenda.
However, on a grey, chilly day in Brisbane, Australia I find myself craving soup, honeyed tea and freshly baked cookies. I look around for ghosts and try to spot black cats. I expect the leaves to fall from the trees; red, orange and gold. People rush by in scarves and boots, ready to confront the wind.
The strangest thing about living in Australia hasn't been the koala and kangaroo roadkill or driving on the left side of the road or often unintelligible accent or sudden storms. It's been celebrating holidays and seasons OUT OF ORDER!
For the past 28 years, my Christmas was cold, my Halloween was blustery, my Easter was filled with budding plants. Now, my world seems confused. I never realized how my perspective of each month was so closely tied to its season until packing up my life and taking it Down Under.
As my days grow shorter while my family and friends' days grow longer, it seems both unfair and exciting to experience the polar opposite of their daily lives. This will be the first time that I celebrate my end of June birthday snuggled up in blankets instead of at the swimming pool.
In the end, I don't think I could ever get used to celebrating the holidays in this upside-down way because the memories connected with them are too strong. For this, I have my mother to blame (in a good way!) She is the most holiday obsessed person I know and truly made each and every holiday incredible for me and my brother. We are shaped by both nature and nurture, but when it comes to St. Patrick's Day, St. Nicholas Day, Easter, Valentine's Day, Christmas, and especially Halloween, my mother touched each ordinary day with magic and that is exactly as it remains in my mind.
To my readers in the Northern Hemisphere: enjoy your warmer weather, your beach trips, your longer days, and balmy nights. To my readers in the Southern Hemisphere: while it's fun to experience your Alice in Wonderland vision of the holidays, they will never seem as special or as real.
American Village in France
Four of the best summers of my life were spent in France working at American Village. This summer camp (with spring and autumn sessions as well) provides French children immersion in English while participating in traditional summer camp activities such as dodgeball, skits, capture the flag, tie dye and all camp evening programs. Prepare to reinvent yourself as a variety of characters (from Rihanna to conjoined twin aliens to vomiting bugs to robots), not sleep for more than 4 hours a night and make friends that will last a lifetime. There is no work visa required for this job.
You can apply to American Village here.
- American Village has a number of sites all over France located in small villages that are breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the sites are even in old castles (as pictured above)
- French children are adorable (that accent!) and you can work with kids, pre-teens or teenagers
- If you are a creative person, this is the perfect job for you as you will be creating signs, games, activities, sets, costumes and much more...
- If you teach English, or are curious about teaching English, half of the counselors are Language Counselors and give daily classes to the children connected with the daily themes such as Wild West Day, Hollywood Day, etc.
- Days off can be an adventure: we're talking hitchhiking, tasting local foods, exploring nearby (or far away) cities or simply enjoying any quiet corner at camp that is KID FREE
- But the #1 best part of AmVil are the other people you'll meet and all of the crazy, stressful, exciting times you'll have
- If you're coming from the US, be prepared to hand over some serious cash for your flight, but if you're coming from Europe it makes a bit more sense
- LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG hours, like 7am wake up, with the kids ALL DAY, meetings at 10pm and more prep for the next day or hanging out with your fellow counselors until LATE
- You can get moved around sites a lot, so if you plan on working with a friend, plan on not seeing them the entire summer
- Some directors are horrible, THE END.
- The pay isn't great, and that last time I did it we were paid on a card. SKETCH.
Granja Escuela Atalaya in Spain
Granja Escuela Atalaya (Farm School Atalaya) is a family owned and run farm near Albacete, Spain. It includes a former summer palace, animals such as a horse, pony, donkey, peacocks, chickens, dogs, goats and pigs, a vegetable garden, workshops for ceramics and aromatherapy, a wood burning oven, swimming pool and lots of land perfect for Spook Walks, night games and exploring. The camp runs English and Spanish sessions for children and counselors and campers stay in rooms with bunk beds, or spend the night in tents. If you speak Spanish and/or English, are interested in eco-friendly activities, and love exploring the great outdoors, this is the camp for you. I spent two amazing summers here.
To learn more about Granja Escuela Atalaya click here.
- The farm is a lush oasis nestled among mountains, desert sands and olive groves. At night the sky is so clear and I've never seen the Milky Way so clearly in my life; the closest village is charming and lies in the shadow of castle ruins
- Many of the counselors have been working at Atalaya for years, some of them having attended the camp as children
- The all camp games and activities at night are creative and entertaining, followed by a special session for older campers with age restricted activities
- Sports, the arts and the eco-friendly lifestyle meet here
- If you speak Spanish, or are looking to learn, this could be a great opportunity for you
- If you love animals, there are a lot of animals that need attention (and food!) on the farm
- Again, LOOOOOOOONNNNGGGG hours, but aren't all summer camps like this?
- Spanish kids are a bit more, um, active than French kids. They are tons of fun, but their energy is endless!
- You need to be an EU citizen to work here, or obtain a work visa. The camp was able to sponsor me for a work visa, which was amazing!
Excellencia in France
Excellencia is a boarding school during the year and offers French and English immersion summer camps when school is out. The facilities here are top notch including housing, a theatre, classrooms, an indoor pool, sports fields and more. Also, there are some champagne caves on the same street for counselors looking to experience the bubbly French way of life! I worked here part of one summer and was able to pick up quite a bit of French. You don't need a work visa for this camp.
To read about Excellencia, click here.
- THE FOOD. If you like gourmet French meals, prepare to indulge, and gain a few pounds in the process
- The kids are a bit spoiled, but they are nice and they are willing to participate in activities and English classes which the counselors are in charge of
- The facilities are gorgeous and there is a river nearby. On days off you can visit famous wine caves or simply wander through the small town and its vineyards. This has to be one of the most beautiful regions of France
- Similar to American Village, but not quite as crazy, you will be relying on your creativity to come up with fun activities and games
- If you know some French and are looking to learn more, this is a great place for that as there is a French camp at the same time and most of the meetings are held in French
- The camp is newish, so there are a few bumps here and there that need to be worked out such as scheduling problems
- LOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG hours
- Not the best pay, but when you are getting paid to play dodgeball and dress up like a character, it isn't so bad
If you have any questions about these specific camps, just leave a comment below!
Have you worked at a summer camp abroad? Where was it? What was it like?
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