ELLEN | What Will You Miss The Most When You Come Back Home?

written by Au Pair in America September 21, 2018

That’s a question I got asked very often over the last few weeks. My year here in Chicago is almost over and in less than two weeks I’ll be sitting on a train that takes my friend and I from Chicago all the way up to Seattle. Pretty exciting! But that’l also mark the end of my au pair year. But back to the question…

Mandatory Chicago Skydeck pic – check! 😄

Maybe some will think: it’s probably the USA, the car, Mac’n’Cheese or even Target. But no, it is the people I met here and who made my year very special. My host family with my three wonderful host kids and my friends. The family dinner every night, where I’ve had some of the funniest conversations. Or just being able to meet up with my friends on a Saturday to go downtown or to one of the many neighborhoods Chicago has to offer to go explore. The many car rides with good music and lots of laughter we had. Being able to go to my friends house after a stressful day because the kids had been a handful that day. Or just hanging out at the beach for a couple of hours, listening to music, talking and swimming in the lake.

The au pair dream team from left to right: Bianca, Lisa Marie, Emma, Ellen and Annemarie!

So, what I want to say is, that the people you surround yourself with will have such a huge impact on your year and your life here, that everything else will seem so irrelevant. But of course there are also a couple of other things I will miss:

The friendly and open American nature that makes it so super easy to talk to strangers on the train or in your neighborhood.

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Having genuinely nice people on your volleyball team who cheer for you.

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Living in a big city with so many, culturally diverse people from completely different backgrounds: I love riding the train and look around to ‘people watch’.

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Speaking of which – since the CTA trains are overground, you’re able to see the whole city and its different neighborhoods. That’s another thing I’ll miss.

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Halloween here in the US – it’s pretty awesome. Especially my host mom loves Halloween, and they always do a big block party in our neighborhood. I’d love to experience that for a second time.

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Starbucks.

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But of course, there’s also another side to this. Here is what I won’t miss, but maybe you will disagree with me:

The food. Since I got here, I’ve got to appreciate German food even more because I got to see what we have at home what they don’t have. Even if you think that adjusting to a new cuisine is not going to be that bi of a problem, I sometimes stood in front of the fridge for 5 minutes because I didn’t know what to eat. That never happened to me in Germany, as I would have just opted for some good old traditional German bread!

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I also won’t miss the taxes and tips!

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I won’t miss that everything seems so far away. It takes more than an hour to go downtown, and the prices for public transport and an Uber add up really quickly.

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Chicago’s winters! It’s cold, very cold. But beautiful – I’ve never seen anything like it, and absolute silence outside is magical.

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Stressing about packing all my stuff at the end of the year. It’s hard if you really don’t want to fly home with a second checked bag.

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Children screaming outside your room at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday. (To be honest, I still loved them though.)

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But let me end on a little bit more positive note: I am Ellen, 19 years old and from Germany. I arrived here in the beginning of September 2017 and I live in a northern suburb of Chicago with my host parents and my host kids: a girl (4), two boys (7 & 10 years old). I’ve done a lot of weekend trips in my time here (New Orleans, Miami, Boston, Washington DC, Cancun, the Niagara Falls) as well as two road trips with my family (Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and Nashville to New Orleans). In my travel month I will travel the West Coast and Hawaii.

Guess where! That’s right, Ellen on an epic weekend trip to the Niagara Falls.

I’ve had an incredible year here with the most wonderful people. And the best thing is, at the end of the year, all of my closest friends will be back in Europe as well, so it will be easy to visit them. My host family and I have already made plans for a reunion trip to Europe. And I, for sure, will come back to Chicago one day – my second home.

When it was time to say good-bye, this was the cake that Lisa Marie and Ellen’s host parents’ for their farewell party! 😭♥️

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