South African au pair Corlia had a great job as a primary school teacher but when she heard about Au Pair in America, she knew she couldn’t let this opportunity pass her by!
“SOME PEOPLE CARE TOO MUCH. I THINK IT’S CALLED LOVE.”
A.A. MILNE, WINNIE-THE-POOH
Before I joined the Au Pair in America programme, I was a full-time primary school teacher in Port Elizabeth. I chose to become an au pair because I love taking care of children and it gave me the opportunity to share my teaching knowledge and experience in a non-conventional way. At the same time, I could experience and learn more about another culture whilst sharing my own and bonus – I would get to travel overseas!
The decision to take a break from my professional career as a teacher to become an au pair was by no means a decision I made lightly. I loved my job, my school, my colleagues and my classes. But to become an au pair had always been a thought that came up every now and again. So, in 2016, when I realised that I was getting close to the age cut-off to qualify for a visa and I was in a place in my life where I was mentally and emotionally ready for such a change and the journey it will take me on, I decided to just go for it.
As an au pair, coming into a strange country with no one you know is terrifying, but exciting. You make friends very quickly and thanks to everything we see on TV, it quickly feels like you’ve always been part of the American lifestyle and culture. One of my favourite memories goes back to my first week in the USA, when we went on a tour through New York during Orientation. I met amazing girls and we had so much fun getting to know each other and this new, exciting country. We went up the Rockefeller building and even though I fear heights, I did it and it was an awesome experience offering breath-taking views. Time Square was also an incredible experience. In my opinion, the tour is a must for every au pair when they arrive!
I have a wonderful host family and meeting them for the first time was not as terrifying as I thought it would be. They were very welcoming and made me feel at home right away. I take care of the two sweetest children and you will be amazed by how quickly they take over your heart. I’m learning just as much from them as they do from me. Getting used to a new culture and a new lifestyle took a bit of time, but before I knew it I was settled in. Adjusting to little things like no sugar and no screen time for the kids and providing healthy eating options were top of my list. I learnt so many things from my host family that positively impacted my own lifestyle and way of thinking and I will continue to apply them once I am back in South Africa.
During my year as an au pair, I saw things and places I never would have dreamed of seeing and believe me when I tell you – NO words can describe that feeling… The USA is such a safe and clean place – and everyone is just so friendly! Of course, nothing takes away that awesome feeling when you get onto the metro for the first time. You know the things you always see in movies?! You finally get to see and do it yourself! I experienced snow for the first time, joined in 4th of July celebrations, Halloween preparations, visited the White House, went to Football games and learnt to draw by taking a short course as part of my educational hours.
I not only have the most wonderful host family that are like family to me now, but I also made new friends. These girls all have different stories and backgrounds. You learn from them, you experience new things with them and you grow with them. They become your support system while you live away from everyone you know and love. Mostly, these girls stay friends forever as you get to share some of the most special memories together and share a bond that not many others do.
My year as an au pair has been the best year of my life. I met new people with different outlooks on life, I’ve travelled, experienced and seen places and things that otherwise probably would not have been possible. I believe that this experience has helped me become more fulfilled as a person and improved my English skills even more. I have been able to save money and gained experience that can only improve my career prospects once I return to teaching full-time. I would recommend this program to any young girl who even remotely considers the possibility. It helps you to finally step out of your comfort zone and put on your travel and exploring shoes. Go on, you can do it. You won’t regret it, I promise!
Are you ready to jump out of your comfort zone and gain life changing skills and experiences? Register on our site and get started on your application today!