Unsure about living in the USA for one year as an au pair? Swedish au pair Ida has been in the USA for 5 months now and she has some amazing words of wisdom for anyone who is contemplating becoming an au pair in America.
Here I am, five months into the program I so long anticipated participating in. It didn’t always feel like the most rational thing to do since I study Business and Economics but now I see why that little voice inside of me didn’t take no for an answer: I moved and was planted into new soil with new nourishment that has helped me grow tremendously – in ways I could have never dared to imagine.
Yes, it is going to be an emotional roller coaster. Yes, it is scary to leave everything you know and the safety of your comfort zone behind. Yes, it takes courage and discipline. Yes, it’s not going to be easy. But if we truly want to achieve something great, either in our own lives or in this world in general; we have to take the plunge and start believing in ourselves.
I truly believe that what it really comes down to in both life and business is building mutual and long-lasting relationships. Gaining the trust of children is not easy though – it takes determination and some finesse. Being an au pair is not easy, drop that thought, but it is so rewarding. You will get so much from it in terms of character development, which will be a valuable asset to your career path for the rest of your life. There is no such thing as wasted experiences or moments – every experience shapes you as a person.
Whatever expectations you have for your year here in the US, make sure to add some flexibility to it and be willing to be tirelessly open-minded and brave. Things might not always go the way you imagined they would but remember that some of the best moments rise from spontaneity. Remember that cultural exchange is all about sharing and not so much about changing. It will be a cultural shock, even though Sweden is fairly similar to the USA I still found it took me a bit of time to get used to the American culture. If you look at this experience with curiosity instead of doubt, the year you will have here will most certainly become a memory of a life time.
There will inevitably come moments where you become homesick, but I have realized that it’s not a weakness to ask for help and to be open about your state of mind but rather signs of strength. We can’t go through life alone, and that includes this program as well… But the network around you with Au Pair in America is stable and reliable: you can count on their support and comforting help. The bond you form with your host family and the support you get from them is a true blessing which makes this year of change so much more bearable. And there’s more! The friends you make as an au pair also become an amazing support network for you. I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate all the friends that I’ve been honored to meet from all over the world throughout my time here and how they have made this whole experience invaluable. Them, as well as the Hillsong Church that I found in the neighbor town, makes me want to relive this experience over and over again.
Are you still not sure? Go for it! Try it out. You can’t say that the program is not meant for you if you haven’t tried it out. It takes patience, courage and determination to get through the year but it’s so worth it in the end. It’s a year you will remember for the rest of your life: a year that shapes the foundation of who you truly are. We must be extremely cautious and careful not to cut our own wings in the process of doubting ourselves. My firm belief is that, in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make.
So, go, spread your wings and fly off to an adventure of a lifetime!