Once I decided that I really will become an au pair in America (USA), I started slowly but surely with the application process. I chose not to tell everyone though since I don’t like ‚bragging‘ about things until they are a done deal and therefore actually going to happen. Plus, I saw that my classmates were totally exited and all over my other au pair companions, so I decided to keep it to myself until I match with a family. Of course my parents and very close friends knew my ‚little secret‘.
I remember one morning in March when my mom said to me: “I was crying all night long because I am so sad that you plan to go away.” As young adults we have no idea how hard it is for our parents to let us go.
Marianne, my partner in crime, and I drove to our interviewer to get more information about the program and our next steps. I guess we were quite ambitious applicants.
At this point it was spring already and since we wanted to depart during the summer months we were on fire. I honestly don’t remember much as this was 7 years ago, but I recall that me and my friend helped each other with the application. Since we applied at the same time, I felt pressured to get going. It was a good kind of pressure though since I was this anxious young woman who wasn’t 100% convinced if she’s doing the right thing here. Maybe I even hoped to bail out somehow. I even asked myself: “Do you really wanna leave? You have such a great life in Austria right now.”
I remember that my very best friend helped me shoot the application video as I wouldn’t dare to let anyone else watch this. The video was an important part of the application, but this was 2009. I had no idea how to make a video nor how to cut it and put single pieces together. So it just had to be a 3 minute one shot where I was basically showing my room and mumbling something about why the family should pick me as their au pair … I am not even sure if I ever wanna see that video again … 😉
Anyway I got my shit together and finally went to the personal job interview. Of course I was scared as hell since it’s just part of my character to worry if I am good enough. I think I must have been quite a handful for my counselor as I always had a lot of questions for making sure that my application is ‚right‘ and ‚proper‘. She even told me off once.
In school I was the girl with the good grades – the studious one. “Never settle for a B instead of an A on a test.”, was my motto. You know these annoying people who are like: “I think I didn’t do too well on the test.”, but then still get an A minus? Well, that would be me. Why should it be different with my au pair application then?
After about 3 months, my application was finally done and out there for host families to look at. By then three of my classmates already found a family – one of them in California. I don’t know why Europeans think that California is just ‚the place to be‘ in the USA. Maybe because we think when you live in California you live right next to the beach, the sun shines 24/7 and you have 30 degrees Celsius all year long. We actually have no idea that this State is even bigger than Germany and that it can get quite cold depending on where you live.
However, I was jealous, under pressure and worried about not finding any family at all.
As days went by I got an e-mail from my agency that a family with two kids in Connecticut was currently looking at my profile but they didn’t really got in touch with me.
I was contacted by a family in the State of New York – 3 children of school age. They asked me for a Skype date and also mentioned that I am welcome to talk to their previous au pairs. One of them was from Austria too, and since they really liked her they decided to go with another Austrian girl.
Do I even have to mention how incredibly nervous I was when they called me? When I am nervous my mouth gets dry and I feel sick to my stomach. Ever since then the Skype ringtone creeps me out. I must have sounded like a robot while talking to the host mom, basically repeating my application letter. We had a very nice casual chat and I was thankful that she was talking most of the time as my English was kinda wonky. I also got the chance to say hello to two of the kids and a few days later I skyped with the host dad. We mostly talked about the kids, the daily routine, but also about New York City and their annual Yosemite trip on mother’s day which I was welcome to join. Meanwhile I had an ongoing e-mail dialogue with their present au pair and a phone call with their former Austrian au pair. My main worries and questions were basically if the family is nice and fair and if they treat their au pairs well. After all, I was still a very insecure young woman. I didn’t really care where I ended up or what they asked me to do or how many kids they had as long as they were ’nice‘ to me. Also the term ‚rematch‘ scared me to death. I wanted this to work out without any detours or dead ends.
On the 8th of June, just a few days after my graduation from High School, I got an e-mail from the host mom:
I hear that you had a nice chat with […] and an email dialogue with
[ …]. We would like to offer to match with you if you feel ready to
make a decision. […]
Looking forward to hearing your reply.
I didn’t overthink it too much. Even though I would’ve seen myself with kindergarten age kids, I had no guarantee if more families would contact me. As it was already June, it felt right to match with them. Also, the fact that the parents worked from home didn’t bother me too much at this point. This way there was at least somebody home if I had questions or if an emergency happened.
My parents were comforting me in my decision: “If the former au pairs say they are nice then you should go with them. Plus three kids sounds like the host parents have a lot of life experience. They seem trustworthy.”
I replied the very same day that I would love to match with them.
Welcome to New York!
We should discuss arrival dates and then I’ll click the „match“ button
at the agencies site.
I felt truly relieved. From there on things got real …
Wanna know what happend next? The point of no return