Hi everyone and welcome to my first Au Pair in America blog post!
My name is Kendall and I am a 23 year old Canadian au pair, currently living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York. I live with an amazing family, consisting of two loving parents, an adorable four year old girl, and two unbelievably sassy cats. When I began my time here as an au pair, I never could have imagined that the world would throw so many curve-balls, and while I certainly didn’t expect much of my time here to be spent under lockdown, I am still so glad that I am here.
I arrived in New York for Orientation on January 6, 2020. Orientation is where I met one of my best friends, a Polish au pair named Klaudia, whom I shared a room with and whose host family lives only ten fourteen blocks from me (in New York, this is basically like living on the same street. New York is such a walking city, which is one of my favourite things about this place).
I remember being so nervous before Orientation. I was the first to arrive at my hotel room that day (Canada is a much shorter trip to Connecticut than Poland is), and while other au pairs began to arrive in groups, having made friends with other au pairs on their flights from their home countries, I was one of two Canadian au pairs at Orientation, and I remember worrying that I would not make any friends. For any other au pairs that may be worried about this prior to arrival, let me put your worries at ease. APiA does an excellent job at Orientation to assure that you are welcomed and comfortable and helps to encourage so many new friendships.
Not only have I formed a strong bond with Klaudia, I also made friends at Orientation from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, and have been able to watch via social media as they share their experiences in cities across the country. One of my favourite parts about the APiA experience, over and above getting to experience American culture, is the opportunity it gives you to learn about the cultures of other au pairs, and allows you to form lifelong friendships with people all over the world. Before becoming an au pair, I had never even thought about visiting Poland or Brazil, but now they are both at the top of my travel list.
During my first couple of months in New York City, I spent a lot of my time looking up. I still can’t believe how tall some of the buildings are here. I come from a pretty rural farming area in Saskatchewan, Canada, and so, to be surrounded by skyscrapers everyday has certainly taken some getting used to. While I now walk with my head mostly pointed forward, I am still so amazed at how exciting and different this city is compared to home. I think that globally, and for a lot of Canadians themselves, there is this idea that Canada and the United States, because of their close proximity, are super similar, and while this is true in some ways, everyday that I live in the USA, I am reminded of how different they are as well. I think that that is one of my absolute favourite parts of the au pair experience. When you come to a country for vacation, you only get to see what I would call “surface level” culture.
When you come to a country for an extended stay, like being an au pair, you get to immerse yourself in the culture, and that is when its uniqueness and idiosyncrasies start to become more clear. To me, I think that every country has its own distinct personality. When you only know somebody for a couple of hours, or a couple of days, it is hard to really know their personality. But when you know a person for months, or even years, you come to understand just what exactly it is that makes them, them.
And with all of its vibrancy and vivacity, I am growing to absolutely love The American Personality and I cannot wait to get to know it better over the coming months.