After being in the non-immigration line for 1,5 hours me and the other au pairs finally made it out of the arrival area. Our luggage was already sitting there, lonely, waiting for us to pick it up. A nice lady with an au pair sign welcomed us, but it took at least another 1,5 hours before we finally arrived at our hotel as we were waiting for more au pairs to land. I can’t even tell you how exhausted I was.
A little dinner buffet was waiting for us at the hotel, but I could barely eat. I was jetlagged, tired and overwhelmed by all these emotions and impressions. After a short introduction they told us our room number and the schedule for the upcoming days. I was really hoping to share a room with one of my fellow Austrian au pairs, but they usually put one in a room with au pairs that live ‘close’ to your own town.
When I entered my room I was welcomed by at least five Brazilian girls. The Brazilian temperament and energy, yet very lovely, was a bit too much for me at that point of mental state. They noticed how done I was and ended their party, as it was in the middle of the night anyway.
Three young women remained: me, a Brazilian girl whos name I unfortunately can’t remember (Carol probably?) and a very sweet and calm French girl Angelique. Our room had two big beds and one cot. Since the girls already took over the nice beds we decided that we would take turns each night. Three nights, three beds, I started off with the cot. I took my shower and hit the hay. At this point I’ve been on my feet for 24 hours straight.
One might think I fell asleep immediately, but wrong guess. Even though I was over the top exhausted, I could not fall asleep.
All these emotions and impressions were too much for me. I remember laying in bed staring out of the window and looking at a tall building. The sky was a weird brown and orange sauce. I kept asking myself: “Why did you do this? What did you even think about going to the USA all by yourself for a whole f****** year? How stupid can one be?”
At this moment I realized, that I was 6.715,85 km away from home, in a different continent, country and time zone. I cried to myself and felt very, very lonely. I didn’t sleep much that night.
Fortunately we had a busy schedule so there wasn’t much time for homesickness. Getting up at seven, having breakfast and carefully listening to the speaker was on that days agenda. For all of you who don’t know: When you become an au pair in the USA you have a three-day-long pre-au pair training before you actually head to your host family. During these three days they tell you a lot about the American culture, lifestyle and people. Of course childcare is another major part.
That very day I wrote an e-mail to my parents:
Hello mum and dad,
I am very sorry but right now I can’t manage to skype with you, as I would probably just cry throughout the call. Even thinking of you makes me tear up.
Don’t get me wrong, I am great, but I am starting to realize that I will be gone, for a whole year … all by myself, without any parents or close friends.
[Then I told them about the long an exhausting travel]
The hotel is very nice and the food not as junky as expected. I didn’t sleep much as I was crying most of the time. I always had to think of you and thought: What am I actually doing here? I wanna go home. What did I even think going abroad for a year?
I slept approximately two hours, cause we had to get up at seven today. The workshops are ok and everybody is really nice. I share a room with a French and a Brazilian girl and of course I still have the Austrians to accompany me.
Besides I am really looking forward to my host family. I am sure the kids will take my mind off things and give me some kind of family flair.
Well, this is it for now. Due to my jetlag I am pretty strung up. I will write you every day and call you on the weekend.
I miss you!
As early as day one I got introduced to the American culture of air conditioning. The hotel was awfully cold as the AC was running constantly. Basically all au pairs were wearing warm sweaters and long pants even though we had 35 degrees outside. Americans really do have a different notion of cold and hot than Europeans. But they actually also told us that they want to keep the seminar room cool as we would otherwise fall asleep due to our jetlag, which might have been true.
Wednesday afternoon we drove into Manhattan and stopped by the Rockefeller, Times Square and Battery Park. It was breathtaking as I’ve never been in such a big city before. I remember staring at these huge buildings, bridling up all the way to see the top. Looking onto Manhattan from ‘The Top of the Rock’ felt amazing. I couldn’t believe that I would be living so close to New York City.
Thursday was the last day of au pair school. After lunch time we would head to our host families (or would get picked up by them). I remained with a bunch of au pairs in the hotel lobby as I would get picked up by my host family. We were incredibly nervous and excited. It was like a Bingo game. Whenever somebody entered the hotel our heads would immediately face the door. Two seconds later an au pair would jump up squeaking: “This is me!”
I got picked up by my host mum and the eight year old girl. It took me a while to recognize them. Meeting people in real life is always different than seeing them in pictures.
We hugged and between us managed to heave my two big suitcases in the car. My host mom instantly remarked: “Wow, you definitely have the heaviest bags of all our au pairs!” (I was au pair number three, by the way, and yeah you better check out my previous blog post on “What (not) to pack”)
Another thing I remember was the car, or should I call it space shuttle? Cause that’s how people in Austria would probably call ‘it’. It was HUGE as one wheel itself was half my size. I don’t even think that one could buy a car like this in Austria.
Once we managed to put my stuff into the space shuttle we took off to Westchester, where the rest of the family plus dog were waiting for me …
As you can see I was pretty homesick at the beginning. It went by eventually, but realizing what ‘going abroad’ means hit me pretty hard. I hope this post is helping all of you out there who feel the same way.
Would you like to know more about my first days in America? Then stay tuned and subscribe to my blog.