So you’ve left your home country and your family and friends and you’ve arrived in a totally new country, diving in a completely new culture. You’ve probably spend the first few days getting used to your new surroundings, talking to your host parents, playing with your host children.. and you’re exhausted. You’ve basically started a whole new life!
First of all.. you need to just take a moment right now to give yourself a HUGE pat on the back for doing this. Leaving everything you know behind and starting all over again is so very courageous. Not many people would do it.
It’s important that you make yourself feel at home as soon as possible. So after a few days, when you’ve recovered from a possible jet lag and gotten to know your host family a bit better.. you need to go out and explore! It’s important to bond with your host family, but try to also get out and meet other people. Especially during those first few weeks. Here are some tips for meeting new people:
- Join your agency’s au pair meetings
- Join Facebook groups for au pairs in your area
- Sign up at a gym or sports club
- Sign up for classes (language, yoga, art, cooking, etc.)
- Contact other au pair agencies and ask for au pairs in your area
- Go to a spiritual or religious center and get to know likeminded people
- Join a book club (check with your local library)
- Check meetup.com for interesting meet up groups in your area
- Take your host children to reading/baking/play events
- Help out at your host children’s school
- Sign up to volunteer for something you’re passionate about
Over the years I’ve spoken with many au pairs. I’ve seen au pairs with really bad cases of homesickness and culture shock (I’ve been there myself!). I’ve also seen au pairs go back home because of it (I did that too the first time!). That’s why it’s so important to go out, meet other people and dive into this totally foreign culture (even though it might be scary sometimes). Step out of that comfort zone!
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call other au pairs (or you know.. send them a message on Facebook, like most of us do these days) or go to meet ups in your area. You might not get along with everyone, but it’s definitely worth the try. Meeting people from all over the world has its perks. After your au pair adventure you can stay in touch and visit your friends in their home countries!