Tag Archives: food

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

Almost everyone experiences culture shock and homesickness when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

Here are my 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 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 texting 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, go to the park, and/or go places with other au pairs. If someone invites you out, say “yes” whenever possible.* 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.

*Since we are in a pandemic, talk with your host family about what they are okay with you doing and what precautions you should take.

4. Share your culture with your host family – If you are missing some favorite foods from home, find ways that you can make them here and share them with your host family. There are many international markets in our area, you should be able to find most of the ingredients you need. If you are not really a cook, search online for restaurants and bakeries that have a taste of home. Your host family is probably just as excited to learn about your culture as you are to learn about America.

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 or WhatsApp group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Realize that it definitely gets easier with time.

All au pairs experience homesickness to some extent and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years.) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

Healthy Eating – Downsize Your Portions

portion_size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. You want to experience life in the U.S., but don’t feel compelled to pick up bad habits. Stick to the portions you would normally eat. The U.S. is known for its “supersizing”, especially in restaurants.  It is OK to ask for a to-go box and take home that food you couldn’t finish at the restaurant.

Also, check food and drink packages to find out what is considered a normal serving. For example a 20 oz. bottle of soda is actually 2 1/2 servings. Many things that are packaged in what appear to be single serving sizes are actually 2 or more portions.

It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight than it is to overeat and have a lot to lose later.

1/2 Price Deals for Washington, DC Area & Beyond

save-money1There are so many great events and things to see and do in the DC Metro area.  You can spend a lot of money experiencing it, unless you look for deals.  I have three websites that I am subscribed to that send local offers (for the areas of your choice) on a regular basis.

How does it work? All three of these websites allow you to register for free to receive emails with offers in the area(s) of your choice. Groupon and Living Social are daily and Goldstar has a variety of options. I am subscribed for a weekly Goldstar email. If you see an offer you like in the email, you go to their website and buy it. Read the restrictions carefully to make sure of important details such as: at which locations can it be used, the expiration date and special restrictions.

I am signed up for Washington, DC and Baltimore area deals on all of these sites. If I am planning a trip to an area in the future, I sign up for that area as well to look for deals on things I can do on my trip.

Groupon – Click HERE to register.
My fave deals – I bought a Segway Tour of Annapolis for $25 (regular price $50.)  I am planning to use this in the spring. I have gotten lots of other deals for things like salon services, Redbox rentals, places to take the kids and restaurants.

Living Social – Click HERE to register.
My fave deals –  I bought a $20 Amazon gift card for $10. I just got a great deal on movie tickets.

Goldstar – Click HERE to register.
My fave deal – On Goldstar, they have tickets for the Twilight Convention coming to VA in April for $10 (regular price $20) that are tempting me.  They have tickets to all kinds of events, including: theater, kid’s events, sports and more.