This is another guest post from Agnieszka, who is currently working as an au pair in Georgia, USA. Enjoy!
When I first met my host family, I of course was nervous, like all au pairs are. These are things I learned that help me get through the initial strange getting-to-know stage, and hopefully they will help you if you are getting started out in a new place and with a new family!
- Be yourself! Nothing is worse than pretending to be someone completely different than you are just because, this is what you think others want to see. If you start out pretending, you will have to do it all the time for the whole year. Is that worth it? I don’t think so.
- Be honest! This is a new situation for you, and it is normal to be anxious at the beginning. If there are problems or you don’t understand things that are being said, say that you do not understand and that you need them to repeat themselves. No one expects you to be perfect, so it’s ok to be honest if there is an issue or if something isn’t clear.
- Talk a lot! Communication is the most important thing when it comes to relationships with other people. If you do not share anything, it is impossible to get to know and be able to trust, and to be trusted. If you have any problems with your host family, go and talk about what is happening. Of course, communication is important not only when you have a problem! During normal days, when you are happy about something be sure to be open and share.
- Listen, too! Talking is just part of communication. The rest of it is listening. Occasionally your host family will have things to discuss with you about their household and children and maybe even how you are doing things. If they have problems to discuss, do not defend yourself immediately, but listen to what they have to say and share your opinion afterwards. Stay open and be willing to hear what they have to say!
- Spend my time with your host family! If they eat dinners together – eat with them. If they go somewhere on the weekend and invite you to join, then go with them. Of course I am not saying that you should be with them all the time, but do be sure to spend time getting to know them and having fun with them. The au pair/host family relationship doesn’t have to be all work and no play!
- Have fun! Remember, living abroad as an au pair is something you really wanted, so stay relaxed and go with the flow. Living in another country and working and living with people you’ve just met can be challenging, but you will get used to the new place and have a great time. Just remember to stay positive, even when it gets challenging.