Something probably every globetrotter is faced with at one point during their adventure is: homesickness. Just like our au pairs have beautifully unique personalities, they all have their own way to deal with homesickness. Au Pair in America blogger Vanessa opens up about her experience with dealing with homesickness, and why missing your loved ones back home can ultimately be a good thing!
“Let’s talk about something different in this blog post, something that you or other au pairs will for sure experience during your year in the USA is homesickness.
“Homesickness is the distress caused by being away from home. […] Indeed, nearly all people miss something about home when they are away, making homesickness a nearly universal experience. […]”
This post is going to be a personal one because I want you to know that it is likely that there will be challenging times every now and then. Nothing can not be perfect 24/7. This might be a topic that people don’t want to talk about or try to ignore. But homesickness is real, and everyone experiences a different kind of being “homesick”.
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CHAPTER
In July 2017, after 11 months of preparation, I finally hopped on a plane that would take me to the continent where I could finally live my dream of being an Au Pair in America. I myself always thought that I would enjoy to live without my family and friends back home for a certain amount of time. And yes, for most of the time I really do enjoy it. But at the same time I’ve come to realize how much I need my loved ones around me.
I left Germany half crying, half smiling. Saying goodbye to my parents and my sister at the airport was not easy. I knew that I was doing the right thing, because this had been my dream for years. But seeing my mom and dad cry broke my heart and made me want to stay home. But obviously it was too late to say no at that point. People don’t exaggerate when they’re speaking of the infamous “roller coaster of emotions”.
ORIENTATION & NYC
I’m not going to lie: I was crying during the whole flight. And even when we arrived at our hotel in NYC, I was sobbing like a baby. I don’t know why. I guess it was the first time I realized: “Oops, I really am 3000 miles away from home and I won’t come back any time soon”. But you know what? It didn’t even take 24 hours until I started feeling like a completely new person. I could not wait to finally meet my host family! Standing on the “Top of the Rock” aka the Rockefeller Center as part of our NYC tour made me forget about all the tears I had shed. I could not wait for all the adventures that were lying ahead of me!
The first weeks and months in your new family are especially exciting. I was super happy even though I was scared of making mistakes or doing something wrong. But I mean, who wouldn’t be?! There were definitely days in between where I was crying because I was sad. But after I cried I felt a lot better and I just moved on, as one should.
THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Then Christmas came around. Back in Germany we’re really big on the holiday season, so naturally I missed my family and friends even more. Every time I saw pictures of my friends being together with their families, I got a little jealous. I used to wish that I could somehow be with both my families at the same time. My host family tried everything so I would not be too homesick. And this really comforted me, because I knew they did their best to make my first American Christmas a good one. And boy, it definitely was a good one!
If you’ve read my last blog posts, you probably know that I flew to Los Angeles right after Christmas. This trip was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it. Me and my friends had such a blast! But when we came back at the beginning of January, I literally hated everything. I know this sounds horrible, because it was so irrational, but that was just how I felt. I was complaining about almost everything. My emotions were going through the roof during that month, and I felt like no one understood me. I know that I was being a little unfair, because people who are not in the same situation can obviously not understand what you’re going through. Nor can your family, host parents or friends feel the things you’re feeling. The only people who somehow know what you are going through are other au pairs, for obvious reasons.
THE TURNING POINT
And here’s the silver lining: Talking to my au pair friends really helped me. My advice if you ever feel homesick or sad is to talk to someone like your friends, your community counselor or you host parents. Because if you just keep everything to yourself, it’ll all pile up, and will get too much. And that’s exactly what happened to me: At one point everything came together, and ultimately made me feel the way I felt. I’m someone who tends to overthink a lot and that is what I personally consider to be my biggest weakness.
My guess is that au pairs in generally tend to overthink things way too much. But who can blame us, really? We’re taking care of someone else’s kids, so naturally we don’t want to allow ourselves to make mistakes, like ever. And it is true that it’s a huge responsibility, but sometimes we have to accept and remind ourselves that we are human, too. And that it is okay to make mistakes. Most of us are really young and of course it is normal that taking care of these little human beings and the big responsibility we have can be overwhelming. So, to all the future au pairs out there, please don’t worry too much! I know, this sounds a little funny after all of what I’ve just told you. But it just shows, that we’re all going through the same thing, and we all worry at times. But at the end of the day, we’re all going to be ok. And so will you be – you are not alone!
THE BIG PICTURE
I have 3 months left with my host family and it already makes me sad (once again) to think about the end of my year. Because these people have become my second family and I really do love them, especially my host kids. After having lived in the States for 9 months, I can honestly say that I would not want to miss this amazing experience for anything in the world. All the good AND the bad days have made my year unforgettable. All the tears I’ve cried have made me stronger. And all the days where I felt sad still had a positive impact on me – because all of it has turned me into the confident and independent woman I am today.
Now, you might be wondering why I wrote this blog post in the first place. Why focus on the times where I felt like crying, rather than something more fun? Well, the reason why I wrote this is because I want YOU to know that being homesick or going through all these crazy kinds of emotions is absolutely normal, and something you will definitely be able to deal with. As I’ve mentioned, you are not or won’t be the only one who’s feeling that way. So keep your head up, and remember:
“You’ll never know your strength until you’ve faced your struggles!” 😉