One year, 365 days, 8760 hours ¡V how can you summarize one year?
Well, I will try to write down everything I learnt, I loved and felt during my year as an au pair in South West London.
Looking back from today, back home in Germany, I still can remember everything that happened during my year and the whole experience and my stay felt rather like a couple of months and not like a year which I think, is a positive thing.
Anyway, on 3rd September 2005 I left everything and everyone behind to start over as an au pair in a family I¡¦ve never met before. Of course, saying goodbye to the people you love is never easy but to me, it was rather like fulfilling a dream because I love England, its people and culture.
I arrived at Heathrow airport and I spotted the faces of the family I knew from the application forms. Puuuuh, what a feeling! What do I have to do next? What do they think? I had thousands of thoughts running through my head but before I could say anything, they gave me a big hug and kiss and said ¡§welcome to England¡¨. I was literally overwhelmed by all this warmth and love I was given.
After a while we arrived at their house and I unpacked all my suitcases and bags. I took a moment for myself and thought ¡§this is where I¡¦m going to spend the next 365 days ¡V not bad¡¨.
From day I got more used to my new surroundings and I adjusted myself to my host family¡¦s life. What can I say? It all worked out from the very first beginning. I spent lots of time with the children, Ellen (3) & Martha (5), but also with the parents, Kate & Martin. After a while I found myself talking about my host parents as my real parents and I was stunned by that. It just happened but I still knew that I only have one brother, on e mother and one father and they live in Germany.
It is a huge responsibility to look after two children who aren¡¦t yours but the more you spend time with them at the play park, in the city or even in the house, the more you start to see them as a part of yourself and you want to protect them no matter what.
My task as au pair was divided in childcare (20-25 hours/week) and cleaning (3-4 hours/week) which was, I thought, a fair and well organized schedule. I had lots of spare time which I spent with friends, I did language courses at a college, I went on several trips to other parts of England, such as Bath, Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, etc¡K
I¡¦m a huge music fan and I love going to concerts and musicals and as you can imagine, London is the place to be if you want to have a huge variety of concerts. I loved spending my money and time on concerts. I just love London! ƒº
I know you probably heard that before but I had the time of my life: A year I will NEVER forget, I made lots of new friends, saw lots of different places and lucky me, I was able to stay with a family that is the best host family you can ever think of.
I¡¦m still touched by all their love, support, believe and trust in me. It¡¦s funny ¡V people keep on asking me if I¡¦ve ever had issues with them but I can¡¦t think of any. I think we were the perfect match. They took me with them on holiday, we went out for dinners, they gave me birthday, Christmas, Easter, etc presents and they took care of me like I was a proper family member. Even when my parents came over to visit me (from Germany) they were made welcome as well and we all spent time together, went on a trip together and had a really good time. But as you can imagine, working as an au pair doesn¡¦t last forever, so you come to the point when you have to say goodbye to the people you love, people you got to know and to love during one year. When I left, the older girl started crying and it really touched me, I felt like I would let someone down although I know that¡¦s not true.
Although I¡¦m still having some difficulties getting to my old life before I was an au pair, I can recommend it to everyone! Please do it, it¡¦s a unique experience. And if you do, please attend a college to meet new people, travel around the UK (or wherever you are), visit lots of places in London, the cultural centre and please please enjoy your stay because you will never experience something like that again.
If people ask me what the worst part about being an au pair is, I tell them ¡§Saying Goodbye¡¨.
Thanks to iSt for finding the best host family in the world!
All the best,