Disclaimer: Please be indulgent because you may find some mistakes since this article was written by a non-English speaker.
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.”
That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. Why did you want to become an au pair in the first place? Why leave your family, boyfriend/girlfriend and friends to travel abroad? To a country that you don’t know at all? How did you feel when you made this decision?
“These are the personal questions that people kept asking me during the last 11 months”
Every time someone ask me one of these questions I don’t know how to answer, because it is difficult to explain why you decided to do this program and how you felt in that precise moment. Also these are very personal decisions that influence us and then our family. So for people who have never tried anything similar, it is difficult to understand your point of view, even your relatives. What made me become an au pair, in the first place, was simply to travel. I love travelling, and I always did.
But this time there was something different, this time I was traveling alone. Other times, I was traveling with my friends or family especially, in Europe.. Sometimes for work, other times, for fun; with friends or, when I was younger, with my parents. In my life, on one hand, I visited some pretty special places, that I still remember, like Vienna, Austria or Budapest, Hungary. On the other hand, places that I decided I will never go again, like Corfu. And so, after graduating from university, I decided that it was time to travel again, but this in a different way. So I left my country to become an au pair.
“So now what I’m doing is this – building what is gonna be my world.”
One of my dearest friends, from Germany, made this experience after high school. For her, it was a possibility to live alone, in another country, probably to test some “new” way to grow up. At that time, she didn’t want to start university and a cultural exchange program was a good way to learn without going to school. Some girls just want to try a new, exotic and not so common, experience. For others, it’s a good possibility to learn a different language and culture, while earning money.
There are millions of different reasons to leave your country and family and no one is more important than others. Whatever is our reason to pack our belongings into a bag and get on a plane, all we au pairs have something in common. We all leave our beloved and travel away, sometimes to the other end of the world. It’s scary leaving, and not having any idea what’s waiting for you on the other side.
Why? When we decide to participate on this program, we took a big decision that’s going to influence our life forever. At the airport, we make a conscious decision to carry out our au pair duties month by month. Maintaining what you decide to do, it is very hard and not for everyone. So in same way we are very special people. Moreover, doing an exchange program that, at least, is 6 months, in most cases, takes a lot of strength and willingness. And not of all the young women have this characteristic in their blood.
“The scariest part in all of this is about the future.”
In everyones life the big question is the future. So, the future is unknown, dark and scary for all human beings; now, imagine for a 18, 20 or 22 year old girl that traveling alone to a strange country and in a strange family, what is the future? There are no clear answers to that, just a lot of questions. Have I made the right choice? Is going to be good? Fun? Exhausting? We hope so.
Let’s be proud of ourselves! Maybe just for travel. Maybe to run away. Maybe for fun. Maybe we are scared, but full of hope. But we leave. For me it was a chance to travel, understand other cultures and understanding the word “integration”. It was an adventure. And still is! When I left I was scared, but I wanted to test myself and, who I call for a long time, friends. The scariest part was a question: “What they will think of me?” Now I know – absolutely nothing.
But for me, there wasn’t any weird feelings about the strange country; now I know perfectly that where I am is not more “strange, but is my home. Leaving is important for you to understand that you are not so important, that life follows, with or without you around. People are born, people die, some marry and some separate and solve problems that before you believed only you can solve. It’s shocking and liberating but no one needs you to keep on living.”
Article written by Valentina Zerbini. Find more about her on Facebook
Founder of “Au Pairs Chronicles” and author of the novel “#AUPAIRCHRONICLES”, my main goal is to help and motivate people, including au pairs to live their dream. My favorite quote is ” Be somebody nobody thought you could be.”