While visiting my local Chapters, I met the lovely Cindy Babyn, author of Moving Out! A Young Adult’s Guide to Living on Your Own. She is a wealth of information and very generous with her time. If you have any questions about living abroad, how to make it on your own, or how to go with the flow, read on sista!
My niece Jacklyn was the source of my inspiration. She was 17 and that was how old I was when I moved out. I decided to start writing her some tips and I just kept writing and writing until at some point – like 60 pages later – it donned on me that this felt like a book. A lot of people approach me at book signings telling me that they want to write a book. I encourage everyone to give it a shot because you just never know – you might have it in you!
How has international travel and living abroad informed the advice you give in Moving Out?
Living abroad gave me a much better perspective about how great Canada is culturally, how safe it is, how clean it is, among countless other elements. I moved just as frequently when I lived abroad as I did at home in Canada, because something is clearly wrong with me – I move way too much! Moving is moving. It’s pretty much the same set of issues wherever you are, at least in the countries I lived in!
What brought you to Spain and the Netherlands?
Spain: it was romance… I had been continuing post-secondary studies in a music conservatory in Rotterdam, Holland. While there, I fell in love with a Spaniard and for a while I thought I was going to marry that dude. Then I got wise. I was young. I think it would not have been smart to marry at that young age. I had hardly grown into myself. After my studies in Holland, I moved to Spain with him. It all fell apart. I was running out of money and couldn’t find work there. I decided to return to Canada to finish my university degree – and guess what? Lots more moves associated with that decision! The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m incorrigible.
What advice would you give to anyone who would like to try living abroad?
Don’t trust the travel bureau photos! I swear: all those beautiful Dutch travel brochures of sunny terraces and tulips – well, okay, that was true for like a couple of months. The rest was dreary rain, thick fog, and wind coming at you from every single direction! I seriously understand the skies in Van Gogh paintings now.
Okay, but if you want me to get down to giving you some serious advice, I’ve only tried living abroad in a studies context – and for that, the university/college/conservatory should greatly be relied upon to help set you up with student housing. If it’s a romance situation, well, you’ve got to go with trusting your beau to help you work it out.
Still, pack along a sense of adventure, confidence, patience, and a go with the flow attitude. Be open to trusting people, but also trust your instincts at all times. Every situation is so different. For example, when I showed up at the student housing office in Rotterdam with my suitcases, they said that by mistake they had given my room to someone else. So there I was, Canadian non grata. Luckily, the person who was also slotted to take my room showed up at the office with her father. Since they were Dutch, the man took pity on a stranded Canadian and gave me the room. Well, things happen. You have to be graceful and polite, at the very least. Life’s short – make a friend. Generally I find that most people are good and reasonable, and they’ll help you out if they can.
As an experienced visual artist and professional musician, avidly involved in festivals, what keeps you enthusiastic about the arts?
Well, as famous Canadian Gabrielle Roy once said, and as we quote her today on our $20 bill: “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” I’m not involved in festivals any more and I’ve allowed the musician in me to die a certain death, though I sing just about all the time – no, not professionally. My car’s a good listener! These days I’d describe myself as a visual artist. That’s my true gift. Whether people think I’m a good artist or not doesn’t matter to me. I know that gift’s always accessible no matter how much time passes in between the pieces I produce. I enjoy it and feel true satisfaction. I’m grateful for it. I attach my newest work in chalk pastel. It’s still on the easel – haven’t even had it framed yet! See I’m giving your readers the freshest stuff and I encourage them to follow their passions, talents, and dreams.
Meet Cindy in person in Ottawa, ON, at the Pinecrest location of Chapters on Saturday, July, 21st from noon – 5, or at South Keys on Saturday, August 18th and Sunday, August 19th from 12 – 5 pm. Happy moving all!