Brazilian au pair Pamela has spent the last year in Philly with her lovely host family! She’s giving us the lowdown on extending for a second year, her experience so far and why she would recommend this experience to anyone!
So, let me first say that being an Au Pair in America is awesome. I mean, for me it has been a wonderful experience so far! I am almost in my second year, and yes, I am extending with the same family! I feel so great to have chosen the right match for myself that I couldn’t even think about changing families. I also need to say that even though being an au pair is great, it is not always easy. So, let me tell you a little bit more about my year, my experiences and if you think this experience might be right for you then, welcome to the au pair world!
I chose to be an au pair for three reasons: I was a bilingual teacher in Brazil and I had a degree in education (so I had the experience), I always wanted to live abroad and finally, I wanted to experience, first hand, the cultural differences and holidays that they had in the US that I always talked about in my classes, but had never experienced them for myself.
After thinking a lot about it I decided I could do it. I here I am, almost a year later! I wouldn’t change my experience so far, but like every au pair, I’ve experienced ups and downs. When I first arrived in the US I was welcomed by a person from Au Pair in America and waited for girls from other parts of the world to arrive. For me, it was the worst moment so far because I don’t sleep on planes, so when we were at the airport waiting I wanted so bad to sleep and all the waiting was killing me. But everyone else was feeling ok and happy. My advice is, sleep on the plane!
The Orientation was great, I met people from so many different countries that were going to different places in the US, but they were there just like me, waiting and sharing insecurities. After Orientation you travel to meet your host family for the first time. I was catching the train with some other girls who were going to other cities on the way, but I was the only one going to Philadelphia. Scary much? I got off of the train, with two huge suitcases, climbed up the escalators and there my host family were. All of them, waiting for me with flowers and balloons. The boys were shy and didn’t know how to act, but I guess most of them are like that when you first arrive, especially because mine were two teenage boys. My host parents were super polite and were
asking all these things about my trip and telling me about all the places we were driving by on the way home.
Home. This is the word you need to look for, cherish and ask for. There are differences in culture, in language and in relationships, but the thing that families need to offer you when you come here is a home, they need to give you a place to feel welcomed, to feel safe and to be yourself. And that’s what I have right now. I can be myself, I have people around me who will help and support me and I truly feel at home.
My host family and I had so many conversations about how different things are in Brazil and in the US, about food, the traffic, the houses, people, holidays, everything! We shared so much about everything that I can understand now how much different we are from each other, and sometimes how similar. I have cooked and baked things that we love in Brazil, but they hated it here, but I have also tried things that they love, and I hated, and it’s all good. It’s part of the experience.
And experience is something that you will gain a lot. Experience on how to survive the challenges you will face. You will probably think at some point that you won’t understand what people were going to say, that you will get lost (and you will), that you won’t be able to get home in time for your duties (sometimes you’ll wake up late) …you get the picture.
Your year is going to be full of great memories and people and all I have to say is: if you are feeling like this could be a great experience for yourself, and that you want experience a new country, a new culture and actually share your culture and skills with a host family, then go for it and have a great year!