This year has truly been an amazing adventure. In a span of three months, I had been with five different host families. Each host family was different in size, but each special and unique in their own way. I have found something I have loved about each of them and something to miss about them all. After having left each host family, I can look back on my experience with happiness.
After being in different homes with different families, I have learned that we are all the same and all filled with love, no matter the house size. Each home held people that were so hospitable and for that I am grateful. With the summer program I was in, I was to be with each family for two weeks and then my location, along with my family would change. It was definitely hard, in the beginning, to get accustom to each new home I was introduced to. But at the end of every two weeks, I felt sad to leave to my new host family.
Here are some tips you can try out if you are or going to be au paring or even if you have a host family in general.
I am very close to my parents and being away from them can get hard, but I spoke to my host parents like they were my own parents and because of that I felt less homesick. I told them about my life back where I was from, I asked them about theirs and what it was like to live in the area they lived in. Talking to them about everything really brought us closer.
So don’t be shy or think they won’t understand you if they don’t speak the same language, because I have learned they will always at least try to keep up a conversation. I have had so many amazing conversations with all of my host families and now I keep in contact with many of them.
Let Them Know If You Need Anything
In each house I stayed at whether it was in Italy or Austria, the families were very hospitable. They gave me everything I needed and more. But if you ever need something extra like toothpaste, lady products or you need to wash your clothes, be sure to let them know! Also if you have a food allergy or you are a vegetarian be sure to also let them know as soon as you meet them. All my host families would ask me multiple times a day if I needed anything, which was always really nice and helpful.
Hang Out With Your Host Kids
If you’re an au pair or just simply being hosted by a family and they have children try and hang out with them! Play sports, cards, video games or board games with them. One of my families had three energetic kids; they loved playing games by the pool and played a very competitive game of Nerf which I loved because it made me feel like a kid again.
If Your Host Kids Don’t Like You…
If they don’t like you, it might be because they’re really shy. So try not to push yourself on them because it might push them farther away. Be there for them and act like a friend. Ask them questions about what they like to do. I had three young teenage host brothers in one home and it was difficult to try and find things in common but I mentioned to them that I liked soccer, after that it was much better.
Go Places with Your Host Family
Every host family is so nice, that they would always ask if I wanted to go run errands with them and as much as I
sometimes wanted to stay in and sleep, I went anyway. I realized that these moments spent in the car or grocery shopping were good times to talk to the parents, who were sometimes busy cooking or cleaning and sings songs in the car with the kids. These moments became some of my favorite time spent with my host families.
Offer to Help Around the House
In every host family I was in, I always offered to help around the house. Even though nine out of ten times they will say to not worry about it, so always try to help in any way you can. Clearing the tables is something I always did, even if they didn’t ask me to and I could tell they really appreciate it.
If you are an au pair, sometimes helping out around the house is part of your job description, so something simple, but helpful that you can do is keeping your room/bathroom clean. Even with my busy schedule, I made sure that I made my bed before I left for work and again, I could tell it helped out in a small way.
Learn New Languages with Your Host Family
One of my host sisters was seven years old and we spent a lot of time on me learning their version of the alphabet. The seven year old who taught me really enjoyed it and I actually learned a lot. Spend some time with the kids or even the parents and ask questions. I think its great bonding time to spend with your host families.
I hope that these tips help you out with your host families and that you have the courage to make the most of the time spent away by truly submerging yourself in the new culture.