Que vous soyez habitué ou non à voyager loin de votre famille et vos proches, le sentiment de manque de vos proches et au-delà, de votre pays d’origine se fera forcement sentir à un moment ou un autre de votre séjour en tant que Au Pair. Julie, ancienne au pair française aux USA, vous donne quelques conseils.
Either you are used to travel far away from your family or not, you will have to live with the homesick feeling during your experience as an Au Pair.
1. Tout d’abord avant le départ, être conscient qu’il y aura des moments difficiles et ne pas partir trop confiant, ces sentiments sont tout à fait normaux/ Before your departure: you should know that there will be difficult moments and should be carefull of not being too confident.
Feeling homesick is normal even if you are used to travel. As an Au pair, you are not in vacation, you will live in a new country, with a new host family you have chosen but who is not your own family and with who you will have to build a daily relationship with all its members.
2. Un temps nécessaire d’adaptation / A time for adaptation
Take your time and give time to your host family for discovering each other. Don’t expect to be comfortable with them after a couple of days (it’s pretty sure you will not), or even a couple of weeks. Even after an entire year, some of their habits… could remain weird for you. Don’t forget that your host family will probably get the same feeling about you.
3. Apprendre à vivre avec les habitudes de votre famille d’accueil / Learn to live with your family’s habits
Your host family will have to learn how to livewith yours. Everybody has some habits (yours friends, your parents…) which can be weird for others to live with on a daily basis. As an Au Pair, you will have to share habits every day formonths or years with your host family, not just few days of vacations. Many habits may irritate you. For instance: maybe you are tidy and an on-time person and your host family can be messy and late every time (or the opposite). You will not change them and they will not change you, but both of you will have to learn how to live together and make some concessions. Your host family won’t be exactly the same as your own family or friends (and I am sure that some habits irritate you too in your own family and friends) and this is not the point as an Au Pair. The goal is discovering a new culture and a family. You will have to accept their qualities and defaults to learn how to live with them. The best way is to communicate with them. Feel free to tell them what is weird for you and be prepared: they will do the same to you.
4. Se fixer des objectifs / Set objectives, goals to yourself.
Why do you want to be an Au Pair? Think about these reasons. They can be many ones: to discover a new culture, a new country, to learn a language, to take classes, to be more experimented with taking care of children… To reach your goal, you just have to stay few months as an Au Pair in your host family. And don’t forget that you will be very proud of yourself at the end of your experience.
5. Ecrire un journal / Write a diary.
This will help you to express your feelings. It looks like a “teenager’s” thing but it can be important and helpful to take this time for yourself during this time far away from your family. Try to take this time only for you; it can be 10 minutes a day, 1 hour per week… And it could help you remembering after your experience.
6. Parler avec vos proches de votre pays d’origine quand vous en avez besoin / Keep in touch with your family and friends from your country.
If you miss them, just take some time to call them, write them an email or a letter, and speak with them more often or longer. There is no doubt they will care about you and will miss you too.
7. Parler avec d’autres Au Pair ou ex Au Pair de votre expérience, de vos sentiments / Speak with other (or former) Au Pairs of your experience and your feelings.
Don’t forget that you will live the same experience, same doubts, feelings… and probably bad feelings and sadness, that the other Au Pairs around you. They could help you to keep in mind that these
feelings are normal and shared by other Au Pair.