South African au pair Nadine N. was selected by community counselor Cindy Garruba as an Au Pair in America Explorer. This post will be a bit different from past posts as Nadine has written an essay about being an Au Pair in America Explorer which we would like to share.
Nadine’s Message to Au Pairs: Become an Au Pair in America Explorer !
And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new and trust in the magic of beginnings.
About 19 months ago I had to put all my trust in something magical! I have to say, it was the beginning of a wonderful something new.
My name is Nadine N. I am 21 years old and from beautiful South Africa. Currently I live on Long Island, New York with honestly the best family any au pair could ask for. I take care of two little girls, ages 4 and 8. I would love to share with you what I’ve accomplished in the last 19 months.
Being an Au pair explorer there is so much we can do. For my education I did a couple of things, in my first year I wanted to experience the “Life of a Student in the USA” so I did my six credits with Long Island University (LIU), I took two weekend classes on Child Development and can I just say: I had the most incredible American teacher! She was really funny and super down to earth. Another amazing thing is I made loads of friends, friends from all over the world, even from my home country.
In my second year I decided to take a travel class on Niagara Falls with Cultural Hi-ways. We had to take a class over one weekend in Harlem and then the big long weekend where we traveled to the Falls. I must say the falls took my breath away, it’s nothing like you could ever imagine. For the last of my credits I will be attending another class at LIU.
One more thing I am busy with is completing my Diploma in Graphic Design at an online school. Not only does it keep me busy during the day but it also means that when I go home next year, I won’t have to worry as much. I also did a few online photography courses. There is also education in First aid. I would recommend to any Au pair who does not feel 100% comfortable in their training to attend a class on First aid, AED and CPR with the American Red cross. I did mine when I first got here and I also did a second class recently with them. Not only do you get certified but you also feel a lot more confident in your own abilities.
Exploring as an Au pair is also loads of fun. One important way of exploring or meeting new friends is attending cluster meetings, try and attend as many as you can. There is always someone new to meet. My favorite cluster meeting was definitely attending the Broadway shows! In my time here I had the privilege of attending two of these cluster meetings, we saw the SpongeBob Broadway show and the Cher Broadway show. I also did a day of volunteering with my host mom at my little girls Montessori school. My host mom made lunch for the children. At lunch time we got to serve the lunch to them all. I think my host child enjoyed it the most to see us there. Another very fun volunteering experience (for NY Au pairs) is volunteering at the New York City marathon! What an amazing experience that is! I am still speechless. The amount of work that goes into this event and the amount of people who partake is astonishing.
I think one of the best parts of being an au pair is the traveling, in my 19 months I have seen quite a bit. I’ve seen a lot of the East coast and a little bit of the South, my favorite is probably Outerbanks, North Carolina or Washington D.C and definitely Boston and Salem, Massachusetts. I also love Pennsylvania but my absolute favorite place in the entire USA is New Orleans, Louisiana. The people there treat you like family, the food is something out of this world and the place is just overall warm and inviting. It is full of history and the buildings are so different to what I have ever seen before. It is one extremely interesting place.
A few extra things I did in my time here was take part in everything. I helped my oldest girl with her science fair two years in a row, the best one was definitely our last one. We did a Harry Potter themed project with a spell to create an exploding potion (not as extreme as the movies but there was a lot of popping rock candy, baking soda and vinegar) very magical! I also had the huge privilege to attend the 2019 Girl Mogul conference started by founder and CEO of Mogul Tiffany Pham. The conference was probably the highlight of 2019 for me! I learned so much from the people there and gained so much from just talking to some of the counselors. If you ever have the opportunity, do try and attend it next year.
My highlight of 2018 was when my host mom arranged for a surprise day with my Aunt in the City ! I did not expect a thing at all, I didn’t even know my aunt would be in New York. My host family gave me the day off to spend with my Aunt exploring NYC, going on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and visiting the 9/11 memorial. It was such a bittersweet day and I will always cherish it.
Lastly, I would love to share a few more fun events I feel all au pairs should partake in with your host family and also your friends. Halloween is my favorite one! Not only is it in my favorite month of the year or in my favorite season of the year but it’s also really fun! You can dress up in costumes, you can go trick or treating and also look at all the decorated homes, you can even carve your own pumpkin into a Jack’O lantern! My girls love Halloween (maybe because they get lots of candy). Thanksgiving is another one, last year I was lucky enough to go watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the City at CBS offices, any au pairs in NY should try and attend it, just dress warm! After the parade we had lunch together as a family and watched a wonderful “old fashioned” movie together. We also said what we where thankful for around the table, I am thankful for this amazing opportunity and the wonderful family I get to be a part of. Christmas is up next! It’s not always about the gifts but about the special moments with your host family. Another fun event for me was New Years, I got to spend a few days with my host family at an indoor waterpark! Definitely not something you see every day.
My host family always goes above and beyond to make me feel a part of the family! They take me with on vacation, they include me in fun American activities and also, they made the days where you miss your family most very special. One example was my birthday. In my first year I was with my family for only three weeks, before my birthday, so naturally homesickness was heading my way. But my host family had a fun day out planned for me. We went to a place in New Jersey called Medieval Times. That is exactly what it was! A medieval themed restaurant with a live medieval themed show. It was a really special day. In my second year I turned 21 and my host family took me into the City for a day of exploring and amazing melt in your mouth Korean BBQ for dinner.
Make the best of your time here in the States, it goes by in the wink of an eye. Enjoy the small things and document it all. One day when you are back home you can look back on this dream and realize that it was all true, everything you did really happened.
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
What is an Au Pair in America Explorer?
These are au pairs who embrace all aspects of the au pair program (volunteering, attending monthly cluster activities, attending webinars, discovering new places) and for those going above and beyond, sharing their culture through Global Awareness. For complete details: https://www.aupairinamerica.com/pdf/apia-explorer.pdf