Svea and Vanessa are living proof that a) things NEVER go as planned and b) that this might just be the best thing that could possibly happen to you…
Hello there, Au Pair in America community and welcome to today’s blog!
So, me being originally from Germany, I’ve always tried to avoid Germans wherever I am living or generally when I’m travelling abroad. It’s nothing personal (obviously) but to me, travelling is all about breaking free from all the things that you’re so used to in your everyday life. Having that said – I met one of my best friends in the whole wide world during my time as an Au Pair in America in New Jersey, the plot twist here being: she just so happens to be from Germany.
We met on the very first night at Orientation. I was literally just introducing myself to my other roommates, when she came bursting into our room: Red face, throbbing vein on her forehead and an alarmingly determined look on her face. Was she having a nervous breakdown, was she homesick, was she having trouble with any of our fellow au pairs already? Far from it. “Guys, someone stole the German candy that I brought over for my host family from my suitcase. My money is on those security guards at the airport – who the heck do they think they are?” No joke, these were the words that she chose to introduce herself to us, looking back, it’s absolutely hilarious, as she is probably the sweetest person I know. It turned out that no one had stolen anything from her. As many of you can probably relate to, she just finished packing the night before her flight over to the US – and she simply forgot and underestimated how good of a job she had done with wrapping and hiding said candy in her suitcase. Having successfully prevented a full-on au pair melt-down on the very first night, I got a chance to introduce myself properly: “Anyway, I’m Svea. And I think we’ll get along reeeaally well.”
It was pretty much smooth sailing from then on. We ended up living 20 minutes apart from each other, as both of us had matched with host families in Northern New Jersey, roughly 40 minutes from New York City. We were both looking after “older” kids, my host kids being 14, 13, and (the twins) 11 when I got to join their family. As our host kids were usually off to school until the afternoon, Vanessa and I got to spend a lot of time together in the mornings. I remember, we used to do loads of things together, such as attending college classes (every week), going to the mall (sometimes), running (rarely), meeting up with other au pairs from our cluster (as much as possible), or just simply hanging out by the pool together (lots and lots and lots of times) – and it was always a blast. In fact, at some point our cluster in particular started calling us V&V, as my host kids’ nickname for me was “Ve” at the time.
Even after 12 months of going to concerts and sports games, spending our Sundays in NYC and even living through Hurricane Sandy together, we still weren’t sick of each other’s faces (no, genuinely), so we decided to depart on our travel month together. Having spent an entire year on the East Coast, we decided to go see what the other side of this vast country had to offer. We met loads of incredible people, especially through Couchsurfing, on our adventure – we even met one of them again two years after we had returned to Germany: Josh and his flat mates had previously hosted us for a few days in their apartment in Long Beach. Shortly after we had left Long Beach to continue our trip to Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park and San Francisco, he happened to meet a German exchange student, who was staying in Long Beach in order to study at the California State University for a year. After said year, Josh decided to pack his bags and to return to Stuttgart, Germany with his now girlfriend – the city, that I had already started studying in at the time. It’s a small world!
To cut a long story short: Vanessa and I returned to Germany as well, and we haven’t lived in the same city (not even the same country, for that matter, as I just recently moved on to the UK) ever since we finished our au pair year. But that doesn’t mean, that we’re not as close to one another, as we used to be: Just last month, I got on a plane once again – to be able to attend her wedding in Munich! It’s just like they say – Au Pair in America might help you to find a second family (that’s a whole other story), but it also enables you to meet so many more special people that, if you keep in touch, really do become lifelong friends.