Today Anna, an italian au pair in DC, tell us her story..
My name is Anna, I’m 19 years old and I’m from a little city near Milan. Almost 7 months ago, I left my country, my family and my friends to start an experience that would have changed my life. On July 22nd 2013 I took a flight to New York, to begin my year as an au pair. If you are reading this article, you probably already know what an au pair is, so I won’t write that and the requirements again, what I want to tell you is what an au pair truly is.
The truth is that there are lots of factors that affect our experience. I found an adorable family, they give me everything I need, respect the rules and reward me when I deserve it. I can’t complain about anything, it’s also thanks to them if I’m living this amazing experience!
But, some host families don’t respect the contract, they make you work more, they give you unacceptable tasks. Don’t think of coming here and everything will be perfect, it’s hard, for everyone. Maybe for the lucky ones (like me), it will be less difficult, because despite the distance, the english, living with kids ( besides working with them), you will have a host family ready to help you and support you. But, anyway, it will be hard, without any doubts.
People often ask me “is it worthy?”. My answer?! Every cents, every minute spent to fill in all those documents, every tear at the airport, every scream, every snack to prepare, all the clothes to wash, it’s definitely worthy!
I’m living the best year of my life! It’s an experience that makes you grow up, makes you more mature, you will understand your priorities, maybe you will even understand what you want to do in your future. Trust me, if this is an adventure you want to do, do it! You won’t regret it!
When I left I wasn’t worried about homesickness, and honestly after 7 months here, I’ve never been really homesick, but the truth is that, even if the experience is great, you will miss your family, it’s inevitable. The worst thing you can do when you are sad is talking to them every day, skyping to feel less the distance, think about them all the time. What you have to do is going out, meeting people, making new friends, having fun…so you will realize that, even if it’s hard, it’s actually fine.
But how? How can you find new friends in a place you don’t know, if you spend the all day with your host kids? Well, the easiest way is Facebook. I met the half of my friends through Facebook, the other half through other friends. There are lots of groups on Facebook of au pairs in the different cities, states, groups of italian au pairs, groups of au pairs looking for travel buddies…if you want to know new people, the easiest war is Facebook.
I alway say that there are millions of way, like going to the gym, to bars, Starbucks, attending classes, on websites, but if I have to give you a percentage of people I met in these ways is 0%, maybe you will be luckier.
A barrier you could find if you want to make new friends, is the language. Obviously you will meet people from all over the world, and the language of communication is, of course, English. Now, unless you leave with an English level of C, you will have some troubles at the beginning, it’s natural. Not only because it’s a language that it’s not yours, but also because speaking English 24 hours a day, especially at the beginning, it’s exhausting! The important thing is not giving up, after a couple of weeks you will notice that your English improved a lot! If you really want to speed things, I suggest to read a lot, watching tv, talk (with everyone!). Everything can help, even the smallest one. Another piece of advice I want to give you is: don’t be afraid of speaking English, making mistakes, getting the wrong pronunciation! Nobody cares if your English is not perfect, the only thing that counts is reach the communication!
Being au pair changes you life, it’s an amazing experience that I heartily recommend, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be 100% sure that it’s the right experience for you. If you are certain, go! You won’t regret it!
If you want to learn more visit her blog!!