Swedish au pair Tove is 20 years old and just returned back home to Sweden after spending an amazing year with her host family in Atlanta, Georgia. Read her story down below to find out why according to her the Au Pair in America program is an experience and an opportunity “like no other”!
I really wish all people could get the chance to do what I’ve been doing this year. I’ve always wanted to become an au pair. I love children and I love traveling – so this program was the perfect fit! During the matching process, I wasn’t really looking for host families based on the city or state they were living in. But I knew that I wanted to take care of younger children, since that’s what I am most experienced with. I had two other important things on my list: My future host family could NOT be Swedish, nor could they be religious. But guess what? I ended up with a family that is proud to be both. And it turned out to be the best match for me.
The moral of the story: It’s so much better to go into the matching process without restricting yourself. When you find the right family, you’ll just feel it. My family being Swedish doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to improve my English. Just because someone in my family is religious doesn’t mean that I am being forced to believe in something I don’t feel comfortable with. I’ve learned a lot from my host family and I even joined them for church once, just to see what it’s like. I can’t believe that Tove Johansson is saying this but – IT’S AWESOME!
My host family is everything I could have asked for. They really care about me and they never failed to make me feel like I’m a part of their family. My host dad is Swedish and became a part of this amazing family not that long ago. I actually got the chance to attend his and my host mom’s wedding last May! However, he is not the biological dad of the kids and therefore the kids don’t speak any Swedish.
So when I moved to the USA, my biggest challenge was to start teaching them. My host kids are 3 and 4 years old, so it’s still fairly easy for them to pick up a new language. During my time as their au pair, they have both made a lot of progress. We were practising every day and it was so much fun to see them develop their language skills. Spending my days with them was the best English lesson I could have asked for. So really what happened was: I taught them Swedish at the same time as they taught me English!
Traveling was very important to me during my time in the USA. My schedule was great which made it easier for me to explore the country just the way I wanted to. I’ve visited 13 different states as well as Toronto, Canada and the Niagara Falls – and that doesn’t even include my travel month to the West Coast and Hawaii!
To everyone out there who is thinking about becoming an Au Pair in America, I just want to say – go go go! This is an amazing experience and something you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. I’ve learned so much about the American culture but also about myself. I jumped on a plane all by myself, moved in with a family I had never met before and woke up in a city with no friends whatsoever for the very first time ever. The only person who could decide what to do with my 365 days in the USA was me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and it helped me become a more confident and independent person. The au pair life is so much more than “just” a gap year – let’s go!