Homesickness can be a problem during the holidays, even if it hasn’t been at any other time of the year. Au pairs often miss their friends and family, familiar places and their own traditions and customs. The holiday activities in the United States seem, and may actually be, different just at a time when an au pair would welcome something familiar.
It is common for au pairs’ emotions to be close to the surface during the holidays. Her highs are higher, her lows are lower. The enormity of what she has done–actually living in another country (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)–hits her and throws her into a self-protective mode.
Host parents can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (gifts, meals, visitors, religious services, in-home traditions, or none of these, as the case may be.) In the spirit of cultural exchange, ask her if she has any favorite holiday traditions or foods that you might be able to incorporate into your family’s celebration of the season. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect. Talk to her about what has to be accomplished and get her involved and interested. Don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed upon assignments. Make her feel a part of things. And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
Photo: Sheila Sund (Flickr)
Is it risky to do winter sports without the sports insurance?
Yes. If you have to pay your own hospital bills for a broken bone, you might be shocked at how much that would cost. I checked this website for some cost estimates.
Here are a couple examples:
- Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (that does not require surgery) it could cost up to $2,500.
- Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (requiring surgery) it could cost $16,000 or more.
I wanted to make sure everyone understands how the medical coverage works for sports related injuries. There is a list of “high-risk sports/activities” that are not covered with the basic or upgrade medical insurance plans. Those activities are only covered with the Sports Insurance Package (also known as Option A.)
The Sports Insurance Package was available pre-departure and may also be purchased at any time during your year. It takes effect within 48 hours of your enrollment and it is good for 12 months. The cost will be the same ($75) whether you have a month left or your whole year ahead of you. I recommend you pay for it early on, if you didn’t already purchase it. You never know when an opportunity might present itself and you don’t want to miss out on an adventure. You also don’t want to take a risk on getting injured and being responsible for the bill on your own.
Below is a partial list of sports that are only covered with the sports insurance package:
Football, Rugby, Scuba diving, Ski-doo, Wakeboarding, Skydiving, Parachuting, Rock climbing, Zip line, Skate boarding, Rollerblading, Roller skating, Ice Skating, Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiles & Snowshoeing. View the full list on page 3 of the insurance brochure HERE (2013 arrival au pairs) & HERE for (2014 arrival au pairs)
Note: Injuries sustained while partaking in these sports are covered with purchase of the Sports Insurance ONLY.
How to register for the Sports Insurance
Download the form HERE and follow the instructions. It takes a few days for your coverage to begin. If you think you will be doing any of these sports, you should get it now.
Winter Driving Tips
You are likely to find ice and snow on the roads in many parts of the country. There are some basic rules to remember to stay safe in the car in difficult driving conditions:
- Start early and take your time.
- Accelerate slowly, especially on hills
- Drive slowly to avoid having to stop while going up a hill, as it will be hard to start again.
- Don’t make any sudden turns or stops.
- Be sure that the mirrors and windows are always free of snow and ice.
- If you skid, try to steer in the direction the car is sliding to regain control.
- The changes in temperature sometimes cause potholes in the streets. If you don’t see the pothole in time to steer around it, apply the brakes before hitting the pothole and release them just before you reach the pothole. If you keep the brake on as you hit the pothole, it will do more damage to the tire.
- Try to keep your gas tank at least half full.
- If your wheels spin on ice, switch to low gear, even on automatics.
- Leave extra space between you and the car in front of you.
- Remember that bridges and exit ramps are icier than roads.
- Ask what kind of brakes your car has and how to use them in case of a skid.
Wet Weather Driving Tips (from www.nyAAA.com)
- Summer rainstorms can quickly reduce visibility and create dangerous driving conditions.
- In stormy conditions, it is more difficult to see other vehicles, road signs and the road itself. It is critical that motorists take steps so they can see and be seen.
- Drivers should regularly clean their windshield and windows, on both the inside and outside. Drivers who smoke should take extra care to make sure their interior windows are clear of a buildup of smoke residue.
- AAA also suggests that motorists regularly check that headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are working properly.
- As soon as rain begins, AAA recommends drivers turn on headlights and windshield wipers. Many states require headlights to be turned on when it is raining or if the visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet.
- When visibility is so limited that the edges of the road or other vehicles cannot be seen at a safe distance, it is time to pull over and wait for the rain to ease up. It is best to stop at a rest area or other protected location. If the roadside is your only option, AAA recommends pulling off as far as possible, preferably past the end of a guardrail. Keep headlights on and turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
- In addition to reducing visibility, rain creates slippery roads that require motorists to use extra caution. AAA suggests that when driving in rain, motorists slow down and increase the distance between vehicles to compensate for reduced tire traction.