We asked former au pairs Meritxell and Martyna for their top tips on how to adjust to life in America and how to survive your first month as an au pair.
MERITXELL’S TOP TIPS
- Be open minded and be ready and willing to experience new things!
- You won’t want to hear this but you will feel homesick at some point during your year but don’t worry this is totally normal and happens to most au pairs. For me it came after a month of being with my host family, I woke up one day and started crying for no particular reason and couldn’t stop! Rather than try to hide the fact that I was feeling homesick, I told my host mom how I was feeling and we met up and had the best girly day together. It was just what I needed!
- Don’t be worried or scared about getting lost when you drive around your new neighbourhood for the first couple of times. It will take you a few weeks to familiarise yourself with the new area and remember to take a fully charged cell phone with you when you’re out and about in the car.
- Talk with your host family frequently and spend as much time with them as possible. The best way to start feeling comfortable in your host family’s home is by getting to know the family so don’t be shy!
- Attend the cluster meetings! Sometimes you will be busy or might not feel like going but you should try to go to every meeting. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the house, try something new and get to know the other au pairs in your area.
MARTYNA’S TOP TIPS
- Don’t freak out! Everything will feel new and a little scary but try not to get stressed, it will just make you feel more homesick.
- Don’t let your host kids run circles around you. Let them know that they have to listen to you early on, this will help to make the transition into having an au pair as smooth as possible.
- Find new friends! Write to the other au pairs in your cluster and arrange to meet up with them during the week even if it’s just to grab a coffee. The friendships you establish during your year will last long after your au pair experience has finished.
- Enjoy your time off but make sure you prioritise your time wisely and spend time with your host family. It’s important to show your host family that you want to spend time with them, this will help you integrate well into the family.
- On your first trip to NYC don’t spend all your time in souvenir shops. Sounds silly right? You will have so many opportunities to buy souvenirs during your year but on your first trip to Times Square just soak it all up and enjoy being there!