My name is Marie and I am an au pair in Alexandria, Virginia. I have been in the States now for 5 months and I am thoroughly enjoying my experience. I decided to become an au pair because when I was home in Ontario Canada, I found that I never took time out of my busy schedule to travel and enjoy the things in life that I wanted to experience. So, I let my manager know I would be resigning, signed up to the program and started my Au Pair in America application. Once everything was finalized, I had matched with a family, my flights were booked, I’d finished packing and I was off!
Orientation was first, in New York, then after 3 days we were all off to meet our host families. Orientation was a great experience! I met so many girls from all over the world, and everyone was in the same position as me. We were all excited about becoming au pairs and for the new experiences we were going to have. There were so many stories shared, friends made, and fun times had, especially on the NYC tour. After finishing Orientation, it was on the train and off to meet our host families. It was such a cool experience to see all of us being greeted with such love and warmth from our new host families who were so excited to see us and finally have us there, with them in the USA.
One bonus of the program is that you are living with a family that knows the local area really well and everything around, including the secret places you might not know about as a tourist. As you are in the USA for one year, you get to know your local area really well and you are totally enriched and immersed into the experience.
When it comes to choosing what you want to study, there are SO many options, including courses which allow you to learn about a place and then go and visit it. I just signed up for a course which is all about Nashville, Tennessee and I can’t wait to start it. There are so many educational options for au pairs and I think it’s a really important aspect of the program because it allows you another opportunity to meet people and do something you haven’t taken the chance to do before.
There is definitely a lot of work involved with taking care of the children, but the reward and experience of it all is so amazing. I’ve developed such great relationships with my host kids, two beautiful little girls who are 4 and 1 year old, and I now consider them like my adopted nieces. I have had such a great experience with my host family, they are so generous and kind to me and they do feel like my second family. They include me in everything they do, I’ve been able to get to know their extended family, and we are all so comfortable around each other, it’s a wonderful environment to live in.
If I could offer some advice to future au pairs, it would be, to make the most of your au pair experience you have to be very open minded and adaptable. Change can be hard, but if you approach it in a positive way and try your hardest to be flexible and work with your host family’s needs, your year as an au pair will go really well. Another key thing is ensuring you are communicating openly with your host family at all times. If you have an issue or just something you need to talk about, you have to speak up about it. Keeping everything bottled up will just make things much worse. Your host family and your local community counselor will not know something is wrong unless you tell them so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. It’s really reassuring as an au pair to know that in addition to your host family, your community counsellor is always there for you. She can help guide you and be there for you if a problem arises or if you just need someone to talk to. I’ve felt totally supported through-out my time as an au pair so far.
There have been SO many highlights of my time as an Au Pair in America so far, but one of my favourite memories is the first time I saw Washington, and in particular the Lincoln Memorial. I went on a cold day in February on my own. There was no one else around, everything was so quiet and peaceful and I was just astounded by what I saw. The pillars around the memorial just amazed me, and the memorial itself was so breath-taking to see.
This entire experience has been an eye opener and such an exciting adventure. There are so many things I had never experienced in life before becoming an au pair. I had never felt such freedom and independence to go out there and try something totally new.