Tag Archives: culture

Hints for Success – Overcoming Homesickness

Almost everyone experiences homesickness and culture shock to some degree, when they come to live in a completely new environment. So much is different and it takes time to adjust.

It is normal to miss your own family, at home. Try to remember that they support you and want you to make the most of this experience. They will enjoy learning more about the U.S., through your eyes, as you share your adventures with them.

Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try emailing instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and the vast majority of them get through it, stay and have a successful year (some even extend for a second year!) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place June 29-July 4 and July 6-9. 

The Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage. This year will be the 50th anniversary of this popular event. Attracting more than one million visitors yearly, the two-week long celebration is the largest annual cultural event in the United States.

The Festival is held outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between 7th and 12th Streets and inside the Arts & Industries Building. There is no admission charge. Visitors should dress for hot and humid weather. Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so visitors are advised to use public transportation. Smithsonian is the closest Metro station to the Festival site. L’Enfant Plaza, National Archives, and Federal Center stations are within a half-mile. For general Smithsonian visitor information, http://www.si.edu/Visit or call 202.633.1000 (voice).

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special events taking place most evenings beginning at 5:30 or 7 p.m. View the schedule here.

I highly recommend that you visit their website to plan your visit http://www.festival.si.edu/

Au Pairs Make a Difference

Photo: Catherine McEaddy Holmes

Sara Segundo Lazaro shared how Catalonians celebrate Sant Jordi Day at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC

Volunteering is an important part of American life. Au Pair in America encourages all of our au pairs to volunteer as a way to share your culture and learn more about American culture through the experience.

APIA’s Global Awareness program provides the opportunity for you to share your culture, customs, and language in DC-area classrooms through the “Meet Your Global Neighbor” project. Recently, Sara Segundo Lazaro taught a group of kindergartners at National Presbyterian School about Sant Jordi, a festival celebrating the patron saint of Catalonia. See the Global Awareness website for more details on volunteering through this program.

Xareny Segura Muniz is enrolled in the UCLA APIA Advantage Course, which requires au pairs to do a Global Awareness presentation, volunteer at a local organization, and participate in historical and cultural activities. Last month, Xareny visited a first grade class at Lee Montessori PCS, where she taught them about Mexican foods, holidays, and animals. The children also learned a few words in Spanish. Next week, Xareny will volunteer at the DC Central Kitchen to help fulfill the Community Involvement portion of her class.

There are many volunteer opportunities in the DC area. You are welcome to contribute your time wherever you like, as long as it does not interfere with your work or school schedule. Our DCC Cluster Facebook Group has a list of current volunteer opportunities under the files tab. Also, ask your Host Family for community service ideas with their children’s schools, their church, synagogue, or other house of worship, or neighborhood organizations.