Have you ever had the feeling that you are missing out on something? Something big, like a once in a lifetime experience? Latvian au pair Katerine’s advice to all of you out there who just nodded their heads: “Jump when you are scared most!”
The idea of becoming an Au Pair in America first crossed my mind two years before I actually sent off my application. At that point I had started university. But I wasn’t happy. It was going ok, it just felt like something was missing. For the next two years, I would constantly think about would it be like to live in the USA. Wonder, if I was missing out on a big opportunity. And then in autumn 2016, I read a quote that said: “You want to do something that you are afraid of? Jump, when you are scared the most”. That’s when I knew that it was now or never. That’s when I decided to take a gap year. Flash-forward to now: I am living with this amazing, generous, loving family in Texas. And I couldn’t be more thankful. I found a second family on the other side of the world. And I mean literally – they are just like my real family!
THE MATCHING PROCESS
is quite an interesting experience. Some might say that it is a little nerve-racking! Mainly because you know that is is up to you to choose the perfect family. Or rather, the family that is perfect for you. Never pick a family only because they are living in a big cities or a huge house. Match with the family that you feel most comfortable with. A family that you can relate to, and that relates to you at the same time. I talked to more than 20 different families from all over America in two months.
Once I had found my perfect match and all the (sometimes) tedious paperwork was done, it was time for the next stop: New York City! The first week of your au pair year is always Orientation. That’s when Au Pair in America introduces us to loads of other au pairs, whose au pair journeys are about to start just like yours is. Everyone spends a few days learning about the most important things that you need to know for your new life in the USA. We got to share some valuable childcare-related experiences, so that by the end of Orientation week, I felt full-on prepared and ready for my new life in the USA.
Meeting your host family! I remember arriving pretty late at night, so they picked me up from the airport. We hit it off pretty much right away, so that we ended up talking a lot about politics and traveling when we came home. It was really fun! Although I do have to admit that the next few days felt kind of strange, waking up in a house you’ve never been to before and all. After all, I had only spoken to my new family through Skype and Whatsapp up to that point! But, as I’ve said, my host family was so nice, they immediately made me feel like a part of their family from the second I arrived.
I have been taking care of three kids. One of them wasn’t even born when I arrived, and now she is already 7 months old. Time flies! It has been so much fun, we are learning so much together. Kids are the biggest treasure a family can hope for, and by becoming their big sister, you’ll need to make sure to be extra responsible when looking after them.
In my free time I try to explore as much as possible. This is my list of cities, that I want to ideally have visited by the end of my au pair year: San Francisco, Atlanta, Jackson in Wyoming, Chicago, Los Angeles and a few cities in Florida. I will probably add even more cities to that list. The Au Pair in America program is a great opportunity to explore the USA, meet new people and learn about different cultures.
What I love most is that this program also gives you the opportunity to study. Going to ab American university or college is an experience that is completely different from my country. I’ve already got my ,,Professional Event Planing” certificate back home, and now I am taking UCLA courses, that help me learn more about the American history and culture. My favourite part is that we get to volunteer and be part of the Global Awareness program as well.
My highlight of the year was definitely receiving an Email from the Au Pair in America office telling me that my family had nominated me as Au Pair Of The Year. And I also made on of my childhood dreams come true: I visited the house from my favorite childhood TV show “Full House” and even got to take a photo! Although my year is not over yet, I believe I will have so many good memories together with my host family, and traveling the USA.
Coming up with an advice for someone who wants to apply to the Au Pair in America program is easy. Firstly, be honest when it comes to your childcare experience, because families trust you with their most valuable possessions in their lives. And secondly, Skyping a family for the first time can be scary, I know. But it’s actually a lot more fun than you would think! They are usually very nice and are just trying to make an effort to get to know you, so don’t worry too much about it. And last but not least: Do anything in your power to make this year unforgettable. Really try to immerse yourself in the American culture and travel. It is going to be such a great feeling when you go through your photos from your au pair year, and all you can think is: “What an amazing year this was!”