Steph is back – and she’s brought a friend! Steph and her gym pal Steffi have taken it upon themselves to answer 10 of your most requested questions about their crazy au pair life in the USA. Future au pairs! Listen up and feel free to take notes – this could be you one day!
Today I decided to mix up the blog post with a question and answer style post with my friend Steffi. We actually only met about a month ago, but have become great friends since then. We actually met through the Crossfit we both attend. The owner gave each of us the other persons Instagram and then we met up and have became great friends since. So as we were hanging out I was trying to decide what my next post should be about and we were sharing our experiences of the program so then this occurred to me.
When I was looking into becoming an au pair I always looked for this style of post because I always thought it was really interesting hearing what current au pairs had to say about their experience. I hope you get something out of this and if you’re considering becoming an au pair this makes your decision a little easier.
QUESTION #1: Tell us your name, age, where you are from and when you arrived in the US.
Steph: Well I’m obviously Steph. I’m from Australia, I’m 27 years old and I have been in the US for nearly 13 months now.
Steffi: My name is Stefanie, but I get called Steffi. I am 23 years old, from Austria and I have been in America just under 4 months.
QUESTION #2: Where do you live, and how many host children do you have and how old are they?
Steph: Pittsburgh, PA. I have 16-month-old twin boys.
Steffi: Pittsburgh, PA. One boy who is 9 months old.
QUESTION #3: What do you enjoy the most about being an au pair?
Steph: I really enjoy every opportunity it brings to be honest. There isn’t just one thing. It gives you a chance to experience a new culture, live in a different country, meet new friends, make a second family, try new things, travel new places and grow as a person.
Steffi: It’s a hard question, I could tell you a lot of stuff… Making friends all over the world, travelling around,…but most of all – I love my host family and I love to be part of their family. You can travel as much as you want to the states, but as a tourist you will never have this amazing experience. This gives you the opportunity to see the country from a different aspect.
QUESTION #4: Tell us about your host family and your relationship with them?
Steph: I love my host family. My host mom and I are like best friends really. We have movie and wine nights, we travel together and we even go shopping together. We have always had a great relationship. Even before I came to the US. We always say it is like we have known each other forever. Do we get on each other’s nerves, sure? Do we drive each other crazy? Sure. But every relationship has that. As a whole though we get along really well. I also have a great relationship with her extended family and friends. I think us being so close in age really helps (she is 34) as we have similar interests and are in similar life stages. We have also both studied in the health & medical field, so we have a lot to talk about.
Steffi: As I mentioned before, I really love them. I mean, I came to live with “foreigners”. I’ve only seen them on skype before and they really treat me like a family member. Everybody in this family is so nice, helpful and lovely. I can not even find words to describe how cute this baby is. We have so much fun together and I also can talk about all my problems with them. The whole family invites me for everything. From family parties to vacation at their houses. Even if I’m off, I sometimes spend time with them or go to other places – they’re just amazing.
QUESTION #5: What do you find most challenging about being an au pair?
Steph: Missing your friends and family can be really though and something I have battled with more this time around. Especially cause my friends are getting married and having kids I feel like I’m missing out on a tonne of stuff. However, you just have to remember that it isn’t forever and you will be back home missing America before you know it. The months fly by so quickly that all of sudden they are providing your extension paperwork or your flight details for going home.
Steffi: The biggest challenge was the beginning. Honestly, it is hard. Everybody is talking about the fun and perfect part, but when I came here it was not as easy as I expected. At home I also took care of a lot of kids this age, but every baby/child is different. I have to get used to him and his needs. It was hard to know, if he is hungry, if he is tired or what else is going on. Also, it’s super weird just to go to the fridge and just take out some food, even if they keep telling you a thousand times per day. But you get used to it – I promise!
QUESTION #6: What has been your favourite experience since coming to the US?
Steph: My host mom asked me this on my one year anniversary. She asked what was my favorite thing from my first year. Everyone was waiting for me to say a favourite location I have visited, or some experience. But honestly it’s the relationships I have formed over the last 13 months. I can’t imagine leaving these people behind now. Some of them have already gone back to their home country, some are based here in the US. It is who is surrounding you through this journey that really counts. I guess meeting the love of my life hasn’t been so bad either haha.
Steffi: Definitely the people. Especially here in Pittsburgh, the people are so nice and helpful. You can talk to almost everybody. I even made friends while waiting for the train.
QUESTION #7: Have you travelled anywhere since coming to the US, and what was your favorite location?
Steph: Yeh, I have travelled. I have been back to New York since orientation and loved it. I have also been to West Virginia, Ohio, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Atlanta. I also went to Mexico with my best friend. I am planning on going to Nashville in November, Chicago in June and possibly Florida in the summer.
Steffi: Yes, I’ve travelled to New Orleans with my good friend from Colorado (I met her at the training school and have booked 5 more trips with her) to Philadelphia with au pairs from here and to West Virginia with my host family for an engagement party. I have also been in the states 3 times before and I have booked a lot more trips this year. I’m looking forward to them!
QUESTION #8: How have you found making friends in the USA?
Steph: I have made friends in the US quite easily. You make friends at orientation, with the girls in your cluster and I have also made a tonne of American friends. I met them through church, Crossfit, my boyfriend and my host family. Everyone is so welcoming and opens you with wide arms in America. There are plenty of Facebook groups for au pairs as well where a lot of girls will meet au pairs from other clusters.
Steffi: Honestly, most of the friends I have currently I found through signing up for crossfit. There I also got in touch with a lot of Americans – which I really love! There are also a lot of au pairs in Pittsburgh and I met them at our au pair cluster meetings. Additionally, I just talk to a lot of people just at random places or at the baby classes I attend with my host child.
QUESTION #9: What would you say to anyone who is considering being an au pair?
Steph: Just do it. It is such a life changing experience and I recommend the program to anyone and everyone. It is such a cool opportunity. You grow so much as an individual and you will go back a changed person. You will see new places, make friends from all over the world and have an amazing experience.
Steffi: It is a big chance and I really recommend doing it. I have been here since January, but I recognized that I have already changed. I’m definitely a stronger person now. I have met many amazing people, seen awesome places, my English is so much better and I’m already use to this life here. Sure, it is not always super and easy, but it makes you stronger and you’ll gain so much experience. But the most important part is, that you love children- if you do, it’s a great “job” and you can have a lot of fun. I mean no child is always easy- they can be fussy and everything, but they can also give you so much love back.
QUESTION #10: What advice would you give to someone who is about to arrive in the US to begin his or her journey as an au pair?
Steph: I would tell them to come with an open mind. It is not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. However the good experiences totally outweigh the hard times you will have. The hard times will be the ones that will help you grow and develop. Have an open mind about everything, say yes to as many things as you can without being over stretched or putting yourself and others in danger.
Steffi: I think your start here can influence the whole upcoming year you’ll have. Try to talk to your host parents, host kids and all the people around you. Don’t lock yourself in the room. I talked to my host parents a lot from the beginning, which has developed a great relationship. Everything you will give will come back to you. The key to everything is communication. Don’t be afraid to talk to them… And don’t be afraid to go to the fridge and eat something (this was the hardest part for me haha).
New here? Make sure to check out Steph’s very first installment in her series!