Becky gave up her job as a teacher to pursue her passions of looking after children and experiencing life in the USA!
My name is Rebekah and I wanted to tell you a little about why I decided to become an au pair! Back home in the UK I had a well-paid job working as a teacher however I had always been keen on exploring the USA and have always wanted to travel. I talked to a friend and they recommended Au Pair in America which seemed like the perfect way to combine my love of caring for children with my desire to explore and experience life in another country. Honestly since I signed up, I have never looked back. It has truly been one of the best decisions of my life! Sometimes we can feel scared and stuck in our ways but if you have a dream, you just have to jump in and do it! I had a lot to give up back home such as my job, home comforts, seeing my friends and family regularly but I have been able to experience life in the USA and it’s been simply amazing! I’ve tried to make the most of my weekends off by travelling to as many different States as I can. In the last 6 months, I have visited Florida (Disney world), Las Vegas, Chicago, New Orleans, Francisco, Texas, Niagara Falls, and just booked to do L.A. California, I even got to go on vacations with my host family to Mexico and the Bahamas!
The Orientation in New York was highly enjoyable and really prepares and equips you for your journey ahead. I found it very interesting, you learn everything you need to know before stepping into the au pair life which refreshes your mind and gives you an insight of what is expected of you as an au pair. You get to meet other girls who are doing exactly the same as you and get to stay in a really nice hotel! The teachers there are SO lovely and really welcoming. They understand how tired you are and how homesick you might be feeling and they are very empathetic towards you which is what I loved most as it made me feel very supported and cared for from the moment I arrived. The main highlight about Orientation for me, was the chance to explore NYC and enjoy all the sight-seeing which they make time for you to do.
One of the highlights of being an au pair has been the study weekends, as you know the program requires you to study but don’t let that put you off! My schedule didn’t work around the college classes so I and the host family decided it was best to do the study weekends which I highly recommend, the courses were so much fun! I made long lasting friendships through these study courses because you’re with people 24/7 for the whole weekend which brings you closer together. The courses were enjoyable and practical as we got to go out and do lots of sight-seeing, so if you’re one for travelling like me you would really enjoy it!
Living with my host family has been great, you get to really bond with the parents who become friends and the children you’re looking after! My experience with my host family has been really relaxed and I’ve been trying to use my time with them effectively, making sure I get out and about with my host kids and not stay inside all day. I was able to use the car and as lots of things are in walking distance for me such as the park, museums, cafes etc we go on a lot of walks. We have been to different museums, libraries for story time, to the park for picnics, to the movies and my favourite of all which I’m sure you will agree is going to the pool! Yes, that’s right an outdoor pool which we don’t have in England so that has been a great experience. I spend most of my weekends at the pool myself just to chill and relax.
It can take some time for you to settle in and feel at home with your host family and you shouldn’t worry if you don’t feel settled within the first few days. It is hard at the beginning because you’re new to the country and to the family you are now living with but the more you get to know your host family the better you’ll feel. The American culture is all about making you feel welcome and they are really friendly so don’t worry too much about fitting in or feeling homesick because the host family will do all they can to try and make you feel a part of their family!
You also have regular cluster meetings with the other au pairs who live in your area, which is really helpful especially when you first get there as it enables you to meet new people and build friendships with the other girls who are going through the same thing as you! My highlights of the year have been the study weekends and winning the 2017 Au pair Community Service Award! I won the award because I have become very involved in the church here and I head up one of the teams! I had the opportunity to take part in the competition and write about how getting involved in my community has impacted my time here in the States. There are lots of different ways you can get involved in your local community as an au pair and I highly recommend that you explore the opportunities available in your area. It helps you build new friendships outside of the au pair community and helps you to see life in a different way! So, if you’re thinking of applying just go for it, it is definitely worth it and it also gives you a different perspective on life which I think we all need. It truly will be a year that will change your life! I have 6 months of my Au Pair in America journey to go and I can’t wait to see what adventures and experiences the next 6 months bring!