My name is Kathi and I am 22 years old. I was an au pair from September 2015 to June 2017, and if all goes as planned, I am going to return to the USA to be an au pair again in summer 2019! My au pair story is a pretty unique one, and I thought I would tell you a little bit about it. So let’s go back to where it all began.
In 2015, I applied to become an Au Pair in America. During the matching process there was one family that caught my eye right away. That family lived in Arizona, had 2 little girls and they were looking for a German-speaking au pair to teach their kids German. After some email exchanges and Skype dates, we technically decided to match. Technically, because although we ‘shook hands on it’, the host family wanted to wait until the summer to really seal the deal and make it official. Why the summer? Because I had the opportunity to meet my host family at home in Austria. They just so happened to spend most of their summers here. And so I got to spend some time with them, and got to know them a whole lot better, before I even went to the states.
IN THE STATES
Going to the USA seemed so easy at the time. But little did I know, that during the first few weeks I would call my parents daily, crying and wanting to come home. I felt so uncomfortable, I even thought about rematch and leaving them, because I couldn’t stand the atmosphere in the house. But once their previous au pair left, everything changed. Suddenly, my host family would eat dinner with me, take me to the mall, show me around and finally trusted me to drive the car without having one of them sit right next to me.
Don’t get me wrong, not everything was picture perfect from then on. We had many discussions; some of them about the weather, other regarding how I “raise” their kids, and during the election, the majority of them focused on our political opinion. Like any other family, we had our ups and downs and there were times, where I would think I should just leave. But I decided to stay every single time.
BRINGING AUSTRIA TO THE STATES
I showed them many things about the Austrian culture. how we celebrate Christmas, how we welcome “St. Nikolaus” and the “Krampus” into our homes, or how to cook traditional food like “Palatschinken” and” Fritattensuppe”. At the same time they taught me everything about Thanksgiving and other things about the American culture.
Whenever they could, they would take me on vacation with them. Together we went to Disneyland (more than once), San Diego, Texas, Disney World and many other places. I never took it for granted that they would take me with them.
BRINGING THE STATES TO AUSTRIA
Going back home to Austria was easy for me, because I got to take them with me! Together we took a transatlantic cruise from the USA to Europe, followed by a little road trip, after which we finally arrived in Vienna. I had officially completed my au pair year, and moved back to my parents’, while my host family moved into their own place.
BACK IN AUSTRIA
We started to meet up at least once a week. I showed them around Vienna; my favourite, secret spots in Vienna as well as each of the seasonal highlights here. But besides that, we also got to celebrate another birthday, another Christmas and another New Year’s Eve together. My family took them in like they were their own, and so did the girls with my family. And if my host mum and I needed someone to watch the girls, my parents never hesitated to help out.
But what really showed me how big of a part of their family I am, was when they asked me to become the little one’s Austrian god mom – and without even thinking about it, I said yes. So now I am officially a lifelong family member!
BACK TO THE USA
When it was time for them to return back to the USA, we were all heart broken. It was almost harder to say good-bye to them than to my family here in Austria. We had made so many memories in the past 3 years, that we knew we would keep cherishing and celebrating.
Even before they moved back, we talked about me returning back to Arizona. But I had to wait for 2 years – and so here we are. We already matched officially and set a date for my return ‘back home’. We talk weekly and keep each other up-to-date about everything that goes on in our lives.
One of the best things is that I have found a second family on the other side of the world. And I cant wait to be with them again, even if it will be hard again at times. I can’t wait to get back to my second home and can only recommend this to everyone out there. Go – take that first step of the adventure of your lifetime.