Previously, on ‘GOODBYE D.C., HELLO HAWAII’:
“One thing on our to do list, besides hanging out on the beach all day long, was hiking up the Diamond Head Trail. We headed off at 8 AM because unsurprisingly. it gets really hot in Hawaii throughout the day. There was no shade on the trail whatsoever, so I highly recommend going early in the morning. It was an about 45 min hike but that view over Honolulu was incredible. Totally worth it!”
The next day we took the bus down to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. If you get there by a certain time you can get the ticket for free! They showed us a short movie about the tragic day and then part of the crew took us out on the water to the actual memorial. Not only did we get goosebumps, but we also learned plenty about the island and its fascinating history.
After we got back to our hostel, we packed up our stuff and went straight to the airport to fly to our next and final stop:
Upon arrival, we actually wanted to pick up our rental car for the week. But unfortunately, the car came with some major problems. After many phone calls, spending way more money than expected and talking to the lady at the front desk, we finally managed to get the rental car though. At this point Franzi and I were exhausted, mad and tired because of the whole situation. So we went straight to bed once we had arrived at our hostel.
The next morning we hopped in the car and started driving around the island. We only stopped to get some groceries. Other than that, we just enjoyed the kind of stunning scenery you only get to see on Hawaii! The next couple of days we drove to different beaches, waterfalls and hiking spots. I would love to tell you more about the time in Kauai, but literally all we did was lying on the beach, working on our tan and relaxing all day long. Absolute bliss!
After two weeks of exploring Hawaii, making new friends and living the hostel life, our travel month came to and end. All three islands were stunning and absolutely beautiful. Each in its own way and nothing like anything I have ever seen before. It was the perfect ending to an amazing year.
BACK TO THE EAST COAST
We both flew back to D.C. for two days to run a few last errands like closing our bank accounts and packing our suitcases. I ended up flying home with two big suitcases and one carry-on.
Since my host family was already on vacation at that point, I did not get to see them and spent pretty much all of my time with Franzi. After I had finally managed to pack most of my stuff, it felt really weird seeing the room I had lived in for one year as good as empty. Every now and then, I would come to really random, sudden realizations. Things like: ‘Oh, now I am driving through my neighborhood for the last time’ or ‘This will be my last shopping spree at Target’!
And then, on Thursday, August 23rd, it was officially time to go home. All three of my suitcases were packed and ready to go. I took an Uber and went to the airport. We were driving by some of D.C.’s monuments, and I felt so lucky that this had been my home for the past year. Surprisingly, I did not cry that day. Probably because I could not quite grasp what was happening, just like it had been the case a year ago, and that this amazing journey was coming to an end. I remembered sitting on the plane that brought me to the US one year ago, crying my eyes out because I did not want to leave Germany. And now, 388 days later, I did not want to leave my second home.
MY AU PAIR YEAR THROUGH THE REARVIEW MIRROR
This year has taught me a lot, and I am forever grateful for that. I have learned to be patient and independent. I have learned that it is okay to cry and be homesick. That it’s important to have bad days every now and then, in order to grow as a person. That you are capable of so much more than you think you are. And I have learned that there really is such a thing like a second home.
Becoming an Au Pair in America has been the best decision of my life, and I could not have had a better year. I had the best host family anyone could ask for and they will forever have a special place in my heart. I have developed friendships that will last for a lifetime, and I’ve made memories that I will never forget. And most importantly, I know that I have a second home and a second family away from home.
BACK HOME IN GERMANY
Seeing my family and friends again after more than a year felt so good – especially seeing my parents again. But the first few weeks were a little overwhelming. Sleeping in my own bed again. Being around my family all the time. People constantly talking German. Even the grocery stores made me complain a lot. It was like a little reversed culture shock. On one hand, it felt like I had never been gone, but on the other hand, everything felt different.
As I am finishing writing this blog post, I have been back home for a little more than two months and I am doing great. I’m enrolled at university, so I’m making new friends and starting a new chapter in my life all over again. Nevertheless, I do miss my host family a lot. I still get a little emotional sometimes when I see pictures of my host kids. But I am constantly texting and FaceTiming my host family, which helps. I am also planning on visiting them in a few months and I cannot wait for that day to come!
I wanted to thank everyone who has been following my journey over the last couple of months, and who took the time to read all of my blogs. An extra huge shout out to Au Pair in America for constantly supporting and helping me, and many other au pairs.
Thank you, everyone. Over and Out!