Credits, credits and more credits. As an au pair, it is mandatory for you to meet the educational requirements of the program before you return home. And there are a few different ways for you to earn your credits. In this blog I will tell you guys everything about my experience at the au apair weekend class in San Diego.
You could, for example, go to a college and audit some classes on campus. But there is also an option to get all, yes all your credits, in one weekend; through an Au Pair Weekend Class. And that is exactly what I did. I went all the way to San Diego to do a 4-day weekend course: Make a Difference & Discover San Diego.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
The weekend class usually starts on Friday morning. But since I had to fly in all the way from Baltimore, I decided to go a day early. The first night, I stayed in a really cute hostel. In the morning, I went for a little walk on the beach. The day didn’t start until 11 am, so I had a little time to go and explore. My hostel was really close to ocean, not even a 2-minute walk. It had rained all night and the clouds were finally starting to disappear while the sun was coming out. There even was a rainbow – it was so pretty and a great way to start the weekend!
It was a really nice and relaxing morning before I left for campus. I payed to stay in the hostel that the organization had booked for the remaining days, so I did not need to worry about any transfers to and from campus, since they had shuttle buses. I would highly recommend staying at the hotel that they book for you, because you safe a lot of money that way; It was only 125$, there is breakfast included (which is not great but it’s better than nothing!) and you don’t need to worry about how to get to campus or other places you’ll want to go to during the weekend.
Friday was not very special, it was more an introduction day. You had to be there between 11-12 to get to know your fellow students and teachers. Almost all meals are included with the course, so when we arrived, we got a sandwich with a bottle of water. They started at 12 with a bingo icebreaker game to really get to know the group. They then did a little overview on what the weekend was going to look like. The rest of the day consisted of different classes like volunteerism, the city of San Diego, conflict-resolution and more. A good thing to know is that between the classes, you usually have a 10-15 minute break. Sometimes you had to go to a different location, and other times, you could go hang out outside for a little while.
PIZZA & COLLAGES
Friday’s dinner was pizza and salad, which was all really good. We then played a little game before we had our final class of the day, which was about diversity. Afterwards we took the bus back to the hotel, and once everyone had checked in, we each had to give a presentation about our ‘personal collage’ that we had all prepared prior to this weekend. Before you go to San Diego you have to do 10 hours worth of pre-assignments to eventually get all your credits. One of those assignments was this ‘personal collage’ assignment (2h of credits). You had to talk about who you were before you came to America and all your goals/ things you would like to achieve whilst in America. Once our whole group was done presenting, we got a dessert and were officially done for the day.
Saturday was the first day we would go off-campus. We got picked up at the hotel and went over to Fleet Center at Balboa Park, where we were supposed to get a little introduction and a demo training about our first volunteering experience. Our group first got an hour and a half to explore the park. It was really fun; it’s such a big park, and there is something to see for everyone. I personally loved the old Spanish Village, it was so cute!
After exploring the park, we went back to our meeting point where we had some bagels in the sun. The weather was great for a weekend in January, especially considering that it was -13 degrees Celsius in Baltimore… It was really sunny in San Diego the whole weekend with an average of 22 degrees, which was great.
AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM
After lunch it was time for our volunteering session. We were sitting behind a market stall in the science museum to conduct little science projects with kids who were passing by that day. It was quite fun, it was only a bit of a shame that there were hardly any children. In an hour and a half I spoke to maybe 10-15 kids, because my science project was pretty popular. Others only got 2 kids in their entire shift. Nevertheless, it was all about the experience and helping the people at the science museum and that’s what we did it for!
ALL ON BOARD
We took the bus to the USS Midway, the biggest aircraft carrier from the WWII, where we had a little orientation about the ship and the kind of volunteering we would do there. Once again my group was scheduled to go explore first. It was a massive ship, I think we only saw 1/10 of the whole ship. The guide said that it would take 5 hours to see the whole ship.. Our main priority that day was to help the kids on board with some art projects.
Once our shift had ended, we got off the ship and walked to Seaport Village. There we had to provide our own meal. We first walked back to the famous Kissing Statue, that we had passed earlier when walking towards Seaport Village. Mainly to take some pictures. We then went back to the village to eat some delicious fish tacos and nachos.
We went back to campus for our last activity of that day, which was to watch the Crash movie. Yes, we watched a movie. Basically because it had to do with all the stuff they had been telling us about in class: diversity, stereotypes, conflict resolution and so on. Around 9:30 pm, we took the bus back to the hotel.
Sunday was yet another very busy day with lots of fun activities off-campus. It all started with a little trip to Old Town Historic State Park. Once we arrived, we had to do a photo challenge. It was a really nice assignment and made you explore the area at the same time. We took some really funny pictures with our group, and then proceeded to sit down in one of the restaurants. After a quick picnic in the park, we had to do another assignment. This was, in my opinion, a bit too much for a place like Old Town. We had already seen the whole place at that point, and would have loved to see other places in San Diego. Nevertheless we did not really have a choice, so of course we did what we were told.
Eventually though, we headed over to La Jolla. The beach, finally!!! We had almost two hours to do our assignment and explore. We went to La Jolla Children’s pool and La Jolla Cave, saw some sea lions (took lots of pictures), and walked back to our meeting point. After this fun stop, we had to go back to campus. We had a quick dinner on campus, along with another handful of classes: US Jeopardy, Culture shock, Rituals and zoom. We once again got some dessert, and left for the hotel around 10 pm. It was a very long but interesting day.
Monday was meant to be our last day. Time had literally flown by, but we still had some classes on campus that day. We had another presentation (show and tell) that we had previously prepared at home. This time it was a presentation about your home country. You had to pick something very typical or representative for your country. I am from the Netherlands and since I did not really bring anything typical from home to America, I decided to talk about the Netherlands in general. I had made a little ‘mood board’ about all sorts of things the Netherlands is famous for (tulips, bikes, windmills, and so on). It was really nice to see what other people from other countries did, too. That way, you really get to learn about their countries in a fun way.
Following those presentations, we had two more ‘big’ classes; US history and US politics, plus some lunch. Before the weekend was officially over at 2 pm, we had to turn in all of our worksheets we had worked on during the weekend. For example, the ones we had to do in Balboa Park, La Jolla and so on. Those worksheets also count towards your credits. Most of those worksheets were not a lot of work, but you still had to do it.
NEW FRIENDS & SUNSET CLIFFS
After we had turned those in, the weekend was already over. It flew by but it was a lot of fun. I made some friends with who I also went stayed in touch with after the weekend. My flight was not until 11 pm, so I had some time left to explore a little more. Together with my new friends, I went to the harbor to hop on a boat for a little harbor tour. This was so much fun, especially with the sun out. We also took a taxi to go to the Sunset Cliffs. Just like the name suggests, we were going to see the sunset. It was, for sure, one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen and a great way to finish this weekend.
THE ‘Make a Difference & Discover San Diego’ COURSE
A little more information about the course itself: Once you are done with the course, you have to get another certain amount of hours of assignments to get your total of 6 credits. 6 credits are approximately 80 hours in the classroom. This particular course, plus the pre-assignments (10 hours), will give you a full 52 hours. There is a special website made for the weekend course where they will give you suggestions on how to gain more credits. I, for example, chose to do some more volunteering in order to receive more credits: I went to a food bank and helped there for 2 hours, I went to one of my host kid’s school to talk to them about my home country, and I’ve also been working on a scrapbook which will earn you 2 hours. I still need to do another 10 hours, but as you can tell, there are lots of things to do!
Overall I think a weekend class is one of the best options to fulfill the educational component of the program. It is very quick and easy, and you get to travel on top of that! Most of the workload is done during the weekend, and there are only a couple more assignments you have to do afterwards, e.g. writing an essay about the movie (Crash) or other stuff. It is for sure the fastest way and in my opinion also the most fun way to obtain your credits. I am very happy I did it, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to be back again in San Diego rather sooner than later!