I know that a lot of you guys are thinking about becoming an Au Pair, but maybe you are too afraid to make the final step. In that case, please keep reading this blog post!
Hi, my name is Vanessa and I’m from Germany. I was an Au Pair in 2013/2014. My host family is still living in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I had a boyfriend and a job back in 2013 before I became an Au Pair. I had always wanted to have a private nanny when I was younger. In 2013, I was obviously too old to have a Nanny, so I decided why not become one?!
THE PRE-DEPARTURE PROCESS
I applied to become an Au Pair a few days later. A couple of weeks later I was all set up and ready to talk to host families – and after 3 interviews, I talked to my the family I ended up matching with. I knew from the beginning that they would be a good fit for me (even though I had trouble understanding my host dad because of his Texan accent). After the second Skype call, we matched. And just like that, I was ready to leave Germany in May 2013. I was so excited to finally meet them in person, and to live my American dream!
The Orientation days in New York were exhausting because of the classes we took there, but I also had a lot of fun and learned some important things for the year to come. During the New York City tour I made friends with some of the other girls, and I’m still in touch with some of them to this day.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Right form the start I felt welcome and loved by my new family. They tried everything to make me a part of their family, and it worked. It really became my second home over the year. In the beginning, I made the mistake to stay in my room after I was done watching the kids. My host parents were always downstairs talking or watching TV, but I didn’t join them as much as I wish I would have done. So, it took me a while to really bond with them.
A few months after my arrival my third host kid was born, and my host mum was at home the first three months. We spent the mornings together, and finally got to know each other better. My other two host kids were almost 2 and 5 and went to school from 9 am to 4 pm at the time. After school, I took them to all kinds of activities. Sometimes it was hard for me, because I had to adjust the baby’s schedule according to the schedules of my older host kids. But I got a lot of support from my host parents and their parents as well.
I Wouldn’t Have Done it Any Other Way!
BE AN AU PAIR BUDDY FOR SOMEONE
As an Au Pair in America, you might sooner or later be asked to become a ‘Buddy’ for one of the newly-arrived au pairs in your cluster. I was asked to be a ‘Buddy’ for Kasia from Poland – who, to this day, is still my best friend. She lived in my neighborhood, just a 5-minute walk down the road from my house. Let me tell you that you can make friends for a lifetime, even if you are not understanding each other in the beginning.
Kasia was not confident to speak English at all. But the more I talked to her, the more confident she felt talking. That’s when we started to see each other every day. We experienced a lot of great things together, and took a few trips with other girls. We still visit each other several times a year, even though she now lives over 500 kilometers away from me.
THE AU PAIR COMMUNITY
But no worries even if you won’t be asked to become a ‘Buddy’ – you will still have a lot of opportunities to meet other au pairs. There are also regular coffee mornings with your counselor and all the other girls from your cluster, and you will get to attend their monthly cluster meetings. As part of that, we did different kinds of activities such as hiking, visiting the zoo, eating Crepes, line dancing, and we even made a bonfire at my counselor’s house one time.
MAKING FRIENDS WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
I also had the chance to make friends with some Americans. Some girls say its hard to meet Americans in our age, but I don’t think so. It is actually pretty easy. I met most of them on campus, while attending classes at university to earn my credit points. Let me tell you one thing in general: Please don’t only make friends with the other au pairs from your home country. It may sound mean, but you are abroad to experience different cultures and languages. I made friends with girls from France, Canada, Italy and Poland. And I’m still keeping in touch with all of them, and it’s such a great feeling to know that you can travel the world because you know people in all different kinds of places.
AU PAIR FOR A YEAR, A FAMILY MEMBER FOR A LIFETIME
And make sure to keep in contact with your host family. I still do, and we Skype regularly. I visited them for the first time again in 2017. And since then, I try to visit them every year. My host parents made sure that all of their au pairs got to know each other. And since we are all from Germany, we meet twice a year and spend a long girls weekend together. They are also part of my second family now, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.
DEALING WITH HOMESICKNESS
As I’ve said, back in the beginning in 2013 when I decided to become an au pair, I had a boyfriend. We broke up during my year abroad. But I still completed my year and never even thought about going home early. But I know a lot of au pairs who flew home early because of their boyfriends. Please don’t! If he is not patient enough to wait or if he is not supporting you, then he is not worth it. If you are homesick, don’t go home early. I only was homesick the first few days, but after that, I never felt homesick again. If your homesickness is not going away, ask yourself what the problem could be. Try to talk to your host parents, your counselor or other girls. There always is a way to ‘cure’ the homesickness.
TRAVELING THE USA
And use your weekends and your vacation days to travel and see as much as you can. America has so many amazing things to offer and there a lot of holidays that are perfect to try out all different kinds of activities. Don’t spent all of your money on shopping. Save it for the next trip with some other girls from your cluster. It will be worth it!