Tag Archives: experiences

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)



Au Pair Holiday Memories – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dave and Margie HillI recently asked the au pairs in my cluster to share their favorite holiday memory from fall/winter 2011. I expected to have a lot of replies about Christmas, New Years and maybe Hanukkah. I was surprised that I received more replies about Thanksgiving than any other holiday. I suppose I take Thanksgiving for granted because growing up in the United States, I have celebrated every year of my life.

Below are some of the responses I received when I asked,
“What was your favorite 2011 holiday memory?”

sarkaŠárka from Czech Republic:
“Why THANKSGIVING? Well first of all we don’t celebrate this holiday in my country (Czech republic) so it was new for me. Second it was first holiday which I celebrated with my host family. Third Thanksgiving Day was simply perfect! I met relatives of family, I was the sous chef in the kitchen (haha). The food which I didn’t know was absolutely delicious. And the most important thing – the day I felt like a part of family which was great! I was talking to everyone, I wasn’t shy or something like this at all…  I was just really happy that I have the opportunity to be in the US. Day after Thanksgiving I left to New York and guess what? I was thinking of my host family all the weekend and I missed them. Every holiday was really good but Thanksgiving was special to me! I am grateful for that.

LiliLili from Mexico:
“Thanksgiving!! My first real American Thanksgiving. In many ways this it’s my favorite one because I met the grandparents from my kids, they’re so lovely “abuelitos”. They reminded me what is to have a grandpas, all the sweetness in the world. Then my host dad made an awesome turkey and meal, everyone enjoy it. Third I made my first apple pie as gift to my host family, as a symbol of gratitude to them, for the hospitality and great family they are. I was very happy to see all the family together it was so peace and I really feel like in home. Ahh and everybody loves my apple pie. It was really good. I feel happy cause for the dad of my host mom was like the apple pie her mom used to make when little. For last the season was great. The leaves from the trees falling. Ahh my, it’s so nice. Now my favorite season for sure its fall, all the different colors, brown, yellow, red…was the perfect Thanksgiving. I’m really happy and lucky to be here and experience it myself.

AlexAlex from Austria:
“Guess what my favorite holiday is in the States? again.. THANKSGIVING!!!
Christmas was always my favorite holiday, but maybe that was because we don’t have Thanksgiving in Austria. I cooked with the family, we ate all together. I met a lot of new family members, we were playing a Thanksgiving play that my host child got from school. We danced to a silly song and just had fun. The best part was their family tradition – they have every Thanksgiving the same table cloths. They are white with a lot of things written on it… every year everybody who is there has to write something on it:  something they are thankful for, a few nice words or just the name – it doesn’t matter. But it’s really cool. I got to write something on it too. It was great.
“They are the ugliest but most beautiful table clothes I have ever seen” (like everybody says in the family.)

swantjeSwantje from Germany:
“Mine was Thanksgiving too. Firstly it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical thing you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.

Life in America – Candy

This is the first installment of a new series of posts asking au pairs about their impressions of life in America.  The first au pair to take part is WenWen (nickname Candy) from China.

Candy visiting Great Falls Park in Virginia

Candy visiting Great Falls Park in Virginia

5 Things that Surprised You Most About Life in the U.S.

  1. Good protection on nature environment (such as trees, parks etc.)
  2. Open minded
  3. Some things are expensive.
    • College and university tuition is really, really high, not only for international students, but for U.S citizens who are not in the same state as the college need to pay out-of-state fee.
    • Need to pay for everything, even prescription, and too expensive.
    • Mostly, need to pay tax for everything.
  4. Good education for children with special needs in school. The class I went to do volunteering has four kids, one teacher, and two or three educators; summer school for special needs children.
  5. Lots of NGOs (non-government organizations) and volunteers

Any of those things you were were surprised to find you like?

# 1, 4 & 5 above

Anything exactly like you had seen in American movies or TV?

People are open minded

Anything very different from what you had seen in American movies or TV?

The food was not delicious to me.  I thought it would be when seeing it before.

Best Experiences Living in the U.S.

  1. Have met lots of nice people  (no matter they are Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, etc.) everywhere I’ve been to.
  2. Went to a special education school and some NGOs to do volunteering.
  3. Have learned about Buddhism.

May you be well and happy!