Not your common scenario, I know. I think when people typically stay in France, especially if they are staying as an au pair, it’s usually with an actual French family, while immersing in the French culture. In my case, it wasn’t like that. It was with some Germans. And I was immersing with the German culture.
But as I love German culture and am continuing to learn the language, I was actually quite pleased to find this family was German; not French. But why not a German family in Germany? Well, few side notes to add:
- This family was needing a family helper (I could totally do the job!)
- Jobs were easy: mainly house cleaning and helping with English
- the flight was paid for
- a German Handy (smartphone) would be given to me (in addition to my US phone)
- meals were provided for
- family trips would be made
- allowed travel/free time
I love(d) being around Germans. I love the culture, the food, the language, the mannerisms. Everything German I love. Maybe it has to do with my heritage and ancestry. My family from my mom and dad’s side are rich with German heritage. My dad was even born in Germany. I feel it is something important I should do – to learn the language and immerse myself in the culture. I enjoy it. All things German. I totally didn’t really care about the fact that I was staying in ‘France’.
It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss, to say the least! I felt I had to at least go for it, even if I didn’t get to go. But things worked out in the end and I did get to go. I spoke with the family via Skype prior to leaving, which was different than the first time I’d been abroad. Everyone does things differently. When I had been a workawayer in 2014 I simply made a few emails and headed to the airport.
Brave or dumb? I don’t know… maybe both?
This time though, I got to know the family before leaving, and was acquainted with them a bit before I arrived. I remember being a little overwhelmed at first. My jet lag lasted longer than I anticipated (whereas I had practically no jet lag on my first trip!). It was nearly a week before I finally adjusted to the time difference. The children were younger than the first set of children I’d watched, and required more supervision. As I have younger siblings though, I’m used to it.
I really felt I got a good perspective of what life was like for a German family who had moved from France. Their main reason had been because of homeschooling. They wanted that freedom to teach their children how they wanted freely, without the restraint of the government hovering over. It was very interesting, and I met numerous families who had done or were trying to do the same thing. It was amazing.
my little tulips
This trip was different than my first one in many ways. On my first trip, though I was more of a traveler, staying with a family and living like one in the family, I was definitely more of a tourist in comparison to this past time I was in Europe. I stayed at home more, and was around the family and their friends all the time, and engaged in topics concerning Germany’s current state as a nation, and what was happening to Europe. I loved hearing their perspective as Europeans, and they enjoyed hearing my opinions as an American. They had even asked me what I thought on the upcoming election and the US candidates xD
The children I watched were darling. They were all boys and weren’t really sure what to think of this new young lady from Florida coming to stay with them. But it wasn’t long before they were cuddling next to me on the couch, sitting in my lap for a story, asking me to play outside with them, and helping me make some dessert in the kitchen! (My lemon squares were a hit, by the way).
coloring in the living room 🙂
routinely morning grooming!
And they had never heard of the Wiggles. I guess that’s were my adolescence hangs on a bit because I just adore the Wiggles and couldn’t believe they had never heard of them! Pretty soon, the whole neighborhood could probably hear me and the boys chanting, “Fruit salad! Yummy, yummy! Fruit salad! Yummy yummy!” over and over again… I’m sure there was some French neighbor shaking his head and thinking, “Ah, that’s what we get for having an American over here!”
All too soon, though, I had to leave Europe and fly back home. The good-byes were kinda hard for me to make. I don’t like making good-byes. The children didn’t really understand fully what was going on. They knew I had to leave, but I’m not sure they were really aware of how long I would be gone.
The original plan had been to return in October, but I had to cancel that as it looked like my family was going to be moving (turns out it’s been postponed til next month or so) and then Hurricane Matthew paid a visit. That took a major blow on many Floridians. Lo and behold, though, the Swiss Family I had stayed with 3 years ago contacted me and asked if I could stay with them! I look forward to visiting with the German family, too – it’s been too long since I’ve seen them ❤