Discovered an amazing shoe brand called Jo Mercer I teamed up with them so my followers from Australia & New Zealand can win these gorgeous leather ankle boots worth AU$249.95! You can join via my Instagram!
Living in another country goes hand in hand with meeting new people. Sometimes inspiring people, like Florine, the owner of Sunny Cords. She moved from The Netherlands (hello fellow Dutchie!) to Sydney for work. She was desperately looking for sunglasses cords, which in The Netherlands, is very common. Instead of looking any further, she decided to make her own. Today her company Sunny Cords is so successful, that she had to cut her working hours in half. So next to her part-time job, she’s a parttime girlboss! Or probably full-time, as most girlbosses work 24/7 at their passion.
No matter how nice or inspiring people are, I won’t wear or use products that don’t fit me. And tell them to their faces, cause that’s the Dutch way to do it, haha! But I love the idea of Sunny Cords and I think sunglasses cords are gonna be the must-have thing next Summer! Let’s see if I’m right 😉
A few weeks ago I went to The Netherlands. I always enjoy trips home, but not only because I get see my friends and family. Also because I loooove shopping in The Netherlands. Why? The seasons are opposite in Australia. We are actually behind fashion-wise, which for a fashion freak quite sucks! When it’s Winter and the Dutchies can buy the newest Autumn/Winter collections, like gorgeous new winterjackets and overknee boots (it’s way too hot in Sydney for those beautiful things!), us in Australia are still in Summer and are stuck with the old Spring/Summer collections. You can imagine that I love checking out the latest collections, the ones that are actually inspired by the current runway trends. So when I’m in The Netherlands, I shop.
My trips in The Netherlands are always crazy: Moving around between friends in Amsterdam, family in Groningen (2 hours north of Amsterdam) and my in-laws in Emmen (1 hour south of Groningen). So I actually hardly have time to shop. That’s why I love shopping at Kleding.nl: It’s a ‘search engine webshop’, so I can check out all the brands I love at once. Perfect for me!
What I’m wearing
ASOS top (via kleding.nl)
ASOS sunglasses (via kleding.nl)
LOVE MOSHINO bag (via kleding.nl)
MARKS & SPENCER jeans
Yup, that’s me. You thought I was talking about someone else huh? No, I’ve been working and living on a farm in the Australian country for 4,5 months. Pause for reaction…
Rick and I arrived in Sydney on a one-year Working Holiday visa. A so-called 417-visa. To extend our stay as foreigners, Dutch people in particular, we could try to get sponsored by an employer or do 88 days of farm work. We never really focused on getting sponsored, so we choose to do 88 days of farm work. Well, to say we choose makes it sounds as if we were totally fine with this option, which definitely wasn’t the case. I was dreading it to the fullest!
Dreading farm work
First of all, farm work itself isn’t appealing to me at all. I’m no stranger to working hard, but fiscally hard work? Literally getting my hands dirty? Not familiar with the concept. We’ve heard horror stories of backpackers having to pick fruit 14 hours a day for 2 dollars an hour. It’s a fact that a lot of farmers take advantage of travelers that are desperate to get their second-year visa papers signed. The government has taken steps, but it’s still a common thing to get screwed over by farmers.
We made the conscious decision to not apply for fruit picking jobs in the popular states where there are tons of backpackers, like sunny Queensland, to increase our chances of getting a good paying job at an honest farmer, #TIP! We ended up working at for a great farmer at a potato farm in Victoria.
Leaving the city we love
The second thing I wasn’t looking forward to was living in the country. You’re not allowed to work on a farm near the bigger cities and therefore farm work is also known as regional work. I know people who would love to live in the country, being surrounded by nature and quietness, but I’m just not one of those people. I’m a city girl and I loved my city life in Sydney.
Not just because of the city itself, also because of the people we met, friends we made, the house we made our own those amazing first months in Australia. For the first time in my life I truly felt at home and after just 7 months I was supposed to leave that behind already? I literally cried when we drove out of our suburb Newtown that first weekend of April.
Next to leaving our house, friends and the city we love so much, we didn’t know in what type of house we would stay. In most cases farmers provide accommodation, but just as payment, it’s known that farmers screw over travelers on accommodation too. We didn’t know where or with whom we were going to end up, and I was really uncomfortable with that.
Fashion shoots on a paddy next to a cow?
Another thing that worried me was how I could keep my online business going. How the hell am I supposed to create fashionable content when I live in the middle of nowhere? Am I supposed to pose on a paddy next to a cow? Might be fun for 1 post, but what about the other 120 posts? And if I do find a way, will I even have Internet to actually post it? I was really scared I would have to shut down “the business” for 4 months because creating content and sharing it online is what I love to do.
I was lucky to find ways to create content and I’m extremely thankful for having three dots of 4G signal every day! There are a few villages about a 20-40 minute drive away and we’re “just” 2 hours from Melbourne. So I was able to keep my business going without anyone knowing about my life on the farm. And that made me really glad because I was actually ashamed of my situation.
Ashamed of my farm life
Though I would like to think I’m way too down to earth to go along with the ‘life has to be perfect’ trend we see on Instagram and Facebook, it gets to me too. You all know me as this fashion girl living in the big city; how stupid will I look if I share stuff about my crappy life on the farm? I mean there’s absolutely nothing wrong with farming – I actually gained great respect for people doing this 24/7! – but it’s not really fashionable and it makes my life look everything but perfect.
In the end, I’m actually more ashamed of not wanting to share it, then I am for sharing it now. Because I think we shouldn’t just share a perfect picture, we should also share our struggles. Nothing worth having comes easy and that’s just the way life is. Yet with social media nowadays it looks as everything does come easy. People share photos of their amazing travel adventures, their newest designer bag, their coolest cars and their beautiful house(s) as if it’s normal.
Some people are just lucky but most of us have to work hard, step outside our comfort-zone and do things we don’t want to do, to eventually get closer to our dreams. So if you ever feel like you’re the only one having to struggle while everyone else is leading the perfect life, you are not! We all go through things that suck, sometimes without even knowing why we have to deal with it, but eventually, you’ll get closer to your goals. Not by sitting at home, but to work hard and doing things outside of your comfort-zone, cause that’s the only way to move forward.
Wouldn’t have wanted to miss this experience!
When we left Sydney in April, I wish I could just snap my fingers and travel 4,5 months forward in time. In the end, I am really thankful magical things like that aren’t possible because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the past 4,5 months. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal life, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The past 3 months were actually the best months I ever had business-wise! Who would have known that would happen?!
But most importantly, I grew as a person from this experience. The pessimist in me has learned how to turn a shitty situation into a good one, by accepting it and making the most out of it, instead of constantly fighting it. Fighting things you have to go through is the toughest fight you’ll ever have. In the end, I handled the past 4,5 months like a boss and I’m really proud of myself! And being truly proud of myself is also a very new, yet great feeling.
Share your struggles!
I would like to challenge you to share some of your life struggles too, as I think we shouldn’t just share perfect pictures or perfect stories. Let’s comfort each other by sharing something real. I’m not asking you to share a very personal or depression story, but just something others probably can relate to. Like that time you had to move in with your parents because you decided to finally get that degree you’ve always wanted and started college again as a 40-year-old. Or something like that 😉 I’m looking forward to reading your comments!
As for my story, we got our 88 days of farm work!!! We’re going on a well-deserved holiday in a few days and while being overseas, we’re going to apply for our second-year visa. I’ll keep you posted!
Marks & Spencer is currently working with a theme called ‘Life. Spend it well.’. Because I’ve collaborated with this great brand before, they asked me with I think is the best way to spend life well, or better yet, getting the most out of life.
When I think of getting the most out of life, I think of my favorite Instagram accounts. A life well spent is a life traveling to the most beautiful places, eating lots of yummy bad food yet still looking like Gigi Hadid, wearing your vintage Chanel with your new Gucci, sharing it with hundreds of followers online and always being happy. I tried to live that life and I guess I got quite close. I left my home in The Netherlands to travel the world, I’ve got a Chanel bag, over 75K followers on Instagram and I can eat quite unhealthy without turning into Miss Piggy. The only thing missing was my happiness.
Pressure of the perfect picture
The pressure of the perfect insta life made me unable to enjoy the things that were happening around me. I was constantly looking for the right shot to shoot a ‘Look at me, I lead an awesome life!’ photo. I had the perfect travel insta life, yet I felt totally lost. Why? I was focussing on what others liked to see, instead of focussing on what I liked to do.
I took an Insta-break and when I arrived in Sydney I slowly picked up my phone and laptop again. In January 2017 my boyfriend, Rick, and I were asked to create content for my old employee in The Netherlands, a Dutch watch & jewelry web shop. Why? Because he liked my Instagram content so much. The content I was so unhappy with!
Rick and I took on the challenge and realized we are a great content creating team. From then on we started doing more fashion shoots. We would go for a coffee, explore a new neighborhood in Sydney and if we would find a cute spot to shoot, we’d take out our camera. And after the shooting, there was no pressure anymore. We got the shot, our job is done. That’s how we’ve been doing it ever since.
Feeling comfortable and at home
Taking away the travel/lifestyle part out of my content was a great decision. I love not having to photograph everything I do. Believe me, 90% of the things I do aren’t Insta-perfect! Plus, I don’t really enjoy traveling that much. Yes, I want to see what the world has to offer, but I realized that I’m way happier being in a place that makes me feel at home. Sydney is that place for me right now and from there on we’re taking trips. Next up: Bali, Malaysia, and Vietnam!
Enjoy life to the fullest (in jeans!)
Anyway, to answer Marks & Spencer’s question, after a way too long introduction: I enjoy life to the fullest when I’m browsing around a cool city with my love Rick. Grab a coffee to go, take some cool photos, walk around a bit and treat ourselves to a burger and a beer afterward. No fancy restaurants, cool hotspots, tropical beaches or infinity pools, just a great city where I feel comfortable.
I also realized over the past year that I love doing all this while wearing jeans. So to make this story complete, I put on Marks & Spencer’s latest mom jeans during this shoot. Investing in clothes you really love is also a way of enjoying life. Why purchase the latest trends, when you can buy something you’ll feel great in for years? I have a few favorite jeans – these Marks & Spencer ones being one of them – and every time I put them on I feel like a million bucks. I combined these jeans with a white shirt (cause those are always in style!) and a pair of gold pumps to spice things up a little 🙂
How do you get the most out of life?
In collaboration with Marks & Spencer and Shoppinglinks