Sunday, 10 January 2016

The year that changed my life// BEING AN AU-PAIR

Like so many others, I dreamt of going to America for a long time. I mean you see it in all the movies and how can you not fall in love with a country so diverse and beautiful?
I knew about the Au-Pair program from another friend of mine and it sounded like everything I ever wanted. I have babysitted since I was 14, I kinda liked children and am good with them (for some reason) and combining that with America sounded awesome. In the year I graduated from highschool I applied, got all the stuff together and waited for families... They always tell you that it's important to have a good gut feeling... And with most of the families I talked to, I was just nervous and I didn't feel... 'right'. It was quite late already and I was nervous that I wouldn't find a family! Scary.

And then one night I got an exciting email with a possible match, and then a call from that mother. I talked to her for about an hour and at the end, we matched. Haha! Just looking at the cute pictures she sent, I knew it was right. I WAS SO EXCITED!
From there, everything went really quickly. Getting all the documents, a visit to the embassy, packing and repacking and planning my good bye party (those are the best, for some reason). In July I was off, first to an orientation with other Au Pairs and then finally my host mom picked me up and we drove to upstate New York, where they lived (AND ME FROM NOW ON!).

The life of an Au-Pair is truly awesome IF 
  • you like children
  • you accept that you live in another family' house and following their rules is key
  • you work hard 
  • you have a little bit of luck
I honestly got really lucky with my host family. This doesn't mean that the family was perfect, but it was perfect for me. I bonded well with the kids, my host parents are generous and kind people and I adapted really quickly and well to the American lifestyle.
I had a great friend that lived close-ish (for American standards at least haha) and life was more fun with her. We pretty much did everything together and my kids loved her, so weekends and holidays we were like siamese twins.

Coming back to life as an Au Pair.
Getting paid weekly is great, and because I pretty much only went out on the weekends (too knackered during the week), I had sooo much money. haha. I mean you have no bills to pay, you have a room and food to eat at your house, so you can spend your money on ANYTHING YOU WANT. I bought an expensive camera, so many clothes and books and things, went out to eat so much, and of course- holidays. During the year you get a two week holiday if I remember correctly, so we went to Hawaii for 11 days. IT WAS AWESOME.

We came back from Hawaii with a tan and no money, but damn it was worth it. So we saved up again and after the year was over, our final travel month started. We planned a two week road trip through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. AND IT WAS ALSO AWESOME.

Saying good bye to my family after almost 13 months was the saddest thing, but I think it only hit me when I was back in Germany. Reverse culture shock is a bitch, let me tell you. Even now it still happens to me, and it is a slap in the face and messes with your brain. It really makes you aware of how much you have changed and how people around you ..well, haven't.

Looking back, I think of my life divided in two parts. Before and after the Au-Pair year. I mean, I was a normal teenager before: my life consisted of school and friends, going out, living life in a small German town, having a boyfriend... I always knew I wanted to go to university one day, I clearly remember that. And AMERICA.
When this dream finally came true, I realised how much more there was to the world. I met so many amazing people during that year and made so many memories that I will treasure forever. Exploring other countries makes you so aware of all the differences to your home country. Many times I thought (for the first time I think) that I am really lucky to have grown up in Germany. Other times I would see something and think- why do we not this the same way? It clearly works so well.

The reason why my life is the way it is now is this Au Pair year. It was a real turning point in my life and I am forever thankful for this. I am so lucky that I was able to do this and all the things that came after this. Even though there are many Au Pairs that do not enjoy their experience, for a variety of reasons, I would still recommend this program. It teaches you independence and an intercultural competence that is the key to being a more aware and responsible person. AND IT IS A HELL OF A FUN YEAR!

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