Hello everyone! I am Laura, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Germany. In October 2019 I decided to become an Au Pair by the end of September ’20. In March I had my final Match with my host family and we scheduled my departure for Sept 28th. I would have never dreamed to find such an amazing host family! I’d been so excited to arrive in the USA, and I regularly Skyped with them and we kept us updated via mail and Whatsapp.
And then: COVID-19 “happened”! We didn’t have much contact because my host mum was working at a hospital and so was I back then, my host dad suddenly was working from home, and my two boys had online classes at home! It was stressful for everyone. And then, when Trump signed the presidential proclamation on June 22nd, that NO more J1 visas are going to be granted that year we were all so so sad about that! I cried for days because since I matched with my host family I’ve been so happy and then suddenly someone destroys your happiness, your dreams with just one signature. Luckily my host family would have somehow managed to wait for me!
I applied for a job, that would have started in October and lasted till May, so we postponed my departure to the end of May ’21.BUT then, a month after the presidential proclamation was signed, we found out that there would be some exemption to the visa ban. That means that I could apply for my visa, because my host mum is a doctor and working with Covid inpatients and outpatients and both of my host kids have Special needs, so there was a high chance I’d get my visa granted.
So I had my appointment at the embassy in Frankfurt at the beginning of September, and just after a few minutes into it…
When I got my flight details through, I have to admit that it was quite a shock for me when I read them!
Three flights and four airports in about 25 hours! Before my last flight, I met with a friend I already met back in Germany and then our last flight finally started! That meant another 6 hours for us in the plane to SeaTac International airport!
There, after travelling a little over 25 hours in total, I finally met my host dad at the airport! But thanks to Covid it was weird not to hug him for a greeting! I remember being so scared I won’t find or recognize him because we were wearing masks of course, but he greeted me with a sign and some beautiful flowers!
At the airports they really did everything to keep people apart. At the gate for my flight to SeaTac it was kinda crowded because the flight was crowded itself, but they made sure that there would be at least one empty seat between everyone.
And after that everything was better, because as soon as I saw my host dad my bad mood and thoughts about the travel and how people sometimes act in these times, in combination with me being tired and exhausted disappeared and I realized that I’m done! I’m here. I finally arrived!
We got my two suitcases and drove right home.
Thanks to Covid I had to wear a mask full time in my first two weeks here in the U.S., and keep as much distance as possible and those two weeks felt like ages, but it was worth it, better safe than sorry!
I’ve been here now for some weeks, and I love living with my host family. In those weeks I became a part of their family and I would have never thought for my Au Pair experience to be this great in such a short time. We haven’t had a moment of awkward silence yet and there’s always something to talk about or to do together, like talking about and watching TV shows together, talking about and making music, taking a walk around our beautiful neighborhood and at the waterfront of Tacoma, driving around Tacoma to do some in-car sightseeing or crafting/ scrap booking and decorating with my host mum (or her kinda kidnapping me to multiple craft stores and making me spend all my money there – Thanks for that!!)
We went to Seattle once, had a car sightseeing tour there as well and spent some time outside at gas works park where it wasn’t that crowded and it was easier to keep distance to other people
A week after that we went to a Pumpking Patch, a corn maze and shot apples with an apple cannon and I am so thankful to my host family for making this, what I consider to be a typical American experience, possible, despite this crazy Covid times!
We also had a family photo shoot and during this shooting I felt so incredibly happy and thankful to be in the U.S. and that it was possible for me to start my adventure this year!
I just feel so comfortable and welcome here in my host family. I haven’t had such an experience before that I came to live with strangers, thousands of miles away from home, that turned into family in such a short time and to have found a new place I can call home. Or as I like to say: Tac-home-a.
I would consider myself to be an introvert so taking the step into the Au Pair programme made me leave my comfort zone and since I applied for being an Au Pair this hasn’t stopped. Living in a foreign country makes you leave your comfort zone every single day! For example: My host family loves to cook. The more international the better. In those few weeks I’ve been here I had more international food than in my 24 years in Germany and I am so thankful to my host family for that because I had so many good meals that I would have never tried voluntarily, because, you know, it’s different from what I am used to!
So being in the U.S. makes me leave my comfort zone constantly and this makes it a lot easier to grow!
Another thing I would like to tell you about is meeting friends, because sometimes I feel like every Au Pair has soo many friends or other Au Pairs they meet regularly. The more the better. But for me personally that doesn’t matter that much anymore. I have a few friends that I meet from time to time and that’s ok. Don’t put yourself under the pressure to find as much friends as possible just because it seems the right thing to do or because everyone else was doing that. I came to the U.S. with that thought but it changed after a short time. Even though Covid and another lock down makes it harder to meet friends and to explore the U.S. right now I really don’t feel lonely or sad about that because I have an amazing host family that I love to spend my free time with.
We really have a good relationship and barely have difficulties, apart from staying concentrated with online school for my “little” one, which probably is a problem a lot of current Au Pairs have to deal with right now!
We all need to find a way to deal with these crazy times and to make the best out of it. I am on a good way and I hope all of you are as well!