Katie loving it in Seattle.

Au Pair in America Friends

The friends you make will be forever

Being an Au pair in the United States has changed my life in so many ways. I have been here in Seattle for 1year and 7months now. I take care of a 11yr old boy, 8yr old girl and a 6yr old boy. When I first arrived here I was greeted by my host mother Sally with a lovely bunch of flowers and a warm smile. Yes at first everything is new and scary but you soon get used to everything.

Right away I was getting phone calls and e-mails from other Au Pairs close by, wanting to meet me and take me out! Everyone looks after each other and I never felt alone.

Au Pair in America Swimming

Swimming with friends I’ve made

I have made the most amazing friends here so far. Girls from Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany and America. I can’t wait to travel to their countries and see them again, they really are friendships that will last a life time. I also have a very close relationship with my host parents, they really are a second family to me and I love them very much.

 

 

 

 

In my time here so far I have been able to study Guitar, Spanish, Photography and Painting. All of these classes were so much fun and kept me busy and happy. Not only did I learn new things but I saw SO many new things as well. I travelled to Florida and Iowa with my host family a couple of times. I was able to save money and go to Hawaii and also Jamaica two times. Without the Au Pair program I would never have been able to see and do what I have done.

Au Pair in America Travel

the sights you see are amazing

I have had so much fun getting to know the American way of life and joining in with traditions and holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of my very favorite times with the kids. America is so huge and there is so much to see and do. It really is such an incredible country.

 

 

Katie Martin Au Pair in AmericaAs my time here starts to come to an end and I look back on how much I have learnt and how much I have changed, I truly feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. Travel, children, taking risks and laughing have been the basis of time here.

 

 

 

 

I will forever and always have the best memories of being an “Au pair in America”.

Au Pair in America Childcare

the kids are awesome

an outing and a half!

an outing and a half!

Tiffany has the time of her life in America as an Au Pair


“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

This quote sums up my time in America so far. I have been lucky enough to get to explore and discover America, visiting places I could only dream of.

Hey I’m Tiffany and I am living in Lexington, Massachusetts. I have been here since February this year and am having the time of my life. It still amazes me that my time here is going by so fast, but when I look back, I know that I have done so much during my nine
months here so far, and there is so much that I have to look forward to during the rest of my time here.

I always thought of America as they portray it in movies. But it is so much more than that. Being an Au Pair has allowed me to experience what I now think of as ‘the real America’. Being immersed in an American family gives you an insight into what America is really like – you get traditional American experiences such driving on the right side of the road, watching an American Football game, seeing Fourth of July fireworks, dressing up for Halloween, eating hotdogs and fried dough. You are giving the opportunity to learn about America’s schooling system, the way their government is run, as well as little things like how to tip at a restaurant.

I am lucky enough to be an Au Pair for three wonderful children aged 14, 11 and 7. The oldest has just begun high school and the younger two are at elementary school. My host family is very involved in the community and all the children play a lot of sport throughout the year. My week consists of getting the children ready for school each morning, doing laundry and keeping the children’s play areas and rooms tidy, picking them up from school, helping with homework and getting them ready and off to sports in the afternoons. I help with dinner, but generally have most evenings off.

I help out with sports and other activities, such as birthday parties, occasionally in the weekend. During my time off I like to go for Starbucks with friends, visit the mall (I probably spend too much of my time there), go to concerts or events, take road trips to towns and states nearby, as well as spending time going for walks and relaxing.

From the day I landed in America, I was already receiving emails and messages from other Au Pairs in the same area that I was going to. Au Pair in America has a great Cluster system that allows you to meet with other Au Pairs who live in the same area. Through this, I have made a fantastic group of friends who I enjoy getting to hang out with on my time off in the evenings and during the weekend.

Over the summer I attended classes at a Community College nearby. Part of the course I did required me to go on a trip to Montreal, Canada for a long weekend. This was such a great experience as I learned a lot about American history during the classes and also got to see a bit of Canada and learn about their culture also. This weekend, myself and three others are driving to upstate New York to attend a weekend course at Silverbay. This course is specially designed for Au Pairs where you spend time participating in various workshops throughout the weekend.

During the ten weeks that the children were on summer vacation, we stayed in the family’s holiday house in Cape Cod. Each day the children had tennis and sailing lessons, and spent nearly every afternoon swimming at the beach. I was lucky enough to participate in tennis tournaments, take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard and also made some new friends.

Since arriving in America, I have been privileged to see other parts of the country. Last winter I went with my host family to ski in Vermont, as well as spending a week at Disney World Florida with friends. I am a huge tennis fan, and was lucky enough to get tickets to the US Open in September this year – this was an experience that I will never forget. In January I am spending two weeks travelling across the country. I will spend some time in New York City before continuing onto Colorado, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and then driving up through California to San Francisco.

For those of you considering coming to America to be an Au Pair, it is something that I recommend you do. It is such a fantastic way to see America and a great way to meet people from all over the world. It is such a rewarding job to have – being able to be part of a family and seeing the children grow over your time here. The memories that I have from my time here are memories I am sure I will never forget.

Kiwi Zeta and her time in USA as an Au Pair in America

Hey, my name is Zeta and I live in Olney, Maryland.

I look after two girls a 9 year old, and 7 years old who has Cerebral Palsy as part of my year with the Au Pair in America Program. I have been here for 10 months now and have enjoyed it all! My typical week includes working before school to help get the girls up, dressed and have their breakfast before they go on the bus to school (usually about 7am to 8.45am). I then have the day free until it’s time to get the girls from school, on Mondays I take my youngest to Physiotherapy but the other days we come back to the house for homework and snacks. After the homework is out of the way and my host parent is home from work I will get the girls bathed and into pjs before dinner. After dinner I am free to do as I wish however most nights I will stay in during week.

Meaning I usually I work from about 2pm till 8pm in the evenings. At the weekends when I am not working I go shopping with my friends or we do something else fun. The shopping here is great as there is so much more range then in New Zealand and it’s so well priced! Olney is a small town about half way between Washington DC and Baltimore. I have a car to myself which makes exploring the area easy, and I have also taken a few trips.

I went to New Orleans for 4 days in May with two of my friends from Germany, we had a great time and I went on a swamp tour! I got to hold a baby Alligator, was one of my best memories from the trip! In June I went on a 3 day bus tour to Niagara Falls and stayed on the Canadian side which was absolutely beautiful! Definitely a place you should visit while in US, and there are great attractions you can go on while there to see the falls up close. I went on the Maid of the Mist boat ride which took you to the base of the falls, and also on the Journey behind the falls walking tour where you go through tunnels that open up right behind the falls, it’s amazing how loud it is!

I also went on a weeklong trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware with my host mum, the girls and my host mums family. There were 14 of us all up and I loved how close it made me feel to my family, they all made me feel so welcome. We just relaxed on the beach most days, but also spent a day shopping at the outlets and a day at an attraction park and went on go karts and some rides which was a lot of fun. I am also planning on going to Las Vegas in December before I come home; it’s going to be great!

If you are thinking of coming to U.S for a year as a nanny…Do it!

You will have an amazing year, get to see some incredible things and meet new people from all across the world!

A Typical week for Erin as a Kiwi Au Pair in America

A Typical Week

 

I am Erin and I live in Northern Virginia, near Washington D.C. and look after one little girl.  She was one when I arrived, and turns two next month, just days before my one year anniversary as an Au Pair.

I wanted to explain a little about my situation and my typical week as an au pair.  I live in a suburban area, with no other au pairs within walking distance so having a car has been great for me the past few months, as when I arrived I did not have access to a car during the day, but the playground and pool were within walking distance which was great.

A typical day for us starts with me beginning work at 7:30am so my host parents may go to work.  The baby may or may not be up by then, if she is up I get started on breakfast, or if she is not up I wait for her to wake up and then change her diaper, dress her, give her any morning medications and her morning bottle and then start breakfast.  Each morning I am responsible for unloading the dishwasher and generally tidying the living area.  I do this while the baby has breakfast, and then I will have breakfast with her.  She generally has a mixture of cereals, oatmeal, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, which changes daily depending on what we have.  I usually have cereal.

After breakfast we play for a while – generally she will play with her dolls or other toys, or we may read some books together.

Around 9am to 9:30am I begin to get organised for whatever we are doing that day.  Activities we will go out to in the morning include – a weekly visit to the library, a little dance class she is registered for, a trip to the mall indoor playground, a trip to a lake or park, a trip to the zoo or other outdoor activity such as a nature centre, or if there are any playdates or cluster meeting playdates we go to those too.

We usually are home by lunchtime and we have lunch which could be anything from leftovers, to scrambled eggs, sandwiches, macaroni cheese, subway or whatever is in the fridge.  I then give her a bottle and put her down for an afternoon nap.  She generally sleeps 3-4 hours in the afternoon during which time I do laundry and tidy up toys and then can use the rest of the time to do whatever I like within the house.

When she wakes up she has a snack, a bath and we may go to the pool or just play and read books until my host parents come home.

 

Weeknights

On weeknights I do varied things – sometimes  I stay home and chill out with my host family, meet other au pairs for dinner or coffee, go shopping, attend cluster meetings, go to the gym or the pool or go to the movies.

Weekends

On weekends we get up to many activities.  A lot of the girls in the cluster use our cluster facebook pages to suggest outings, or I organise things to do with my friends.  A few recent examples include a weekend trip to Niagra Falls, Boston or Toronto; theme parks – Six Flags of America, Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion, a trip to Virginia Beach, kayaking for our cluster meeting, going to the movies, going shopping, going to museums in DC, sightseeing in the area or attending classes.

 

Education

For my education for my first year I did the travel classes through the Borough of Manhattan Community College which you may take if you live in the DC/VA/MD area, or Philadelphia area or New York area.

The first class I did was the New York class, in which you attend three Saturday classes in which you learn about New York City, and do a presentation on a topic related to New York City.  Then you do a weekend trip to the city where you have a guided tour on the Saturday, then you have Saturday night and Sunday free to explore the city.

It was a great way to explore the city and to meet new au pairs.

The second class I did was the Philadelphia and Amish Country class.  In this class we spent three Saturdays in classes learning about Philadelphia and the Amish people and then did a weekend trip to Lancaster, where a large Amish population is located and Philadelphia.  We had tours all day Saturday, with Saturday night free, and a tour on Sunday morning where we got to see the Liberty Bell and the constitution and declaration of independence, with free time Sunday afternoon.

 

These classes are about $400 each, depending on which one you take.  They also offer Niagara Falls, Montreal and Boston classes.

This year I am enrolling in classes through Sojourner Douglass College as they are a bit cheaper and shorter, being just weekend courses.  I have enrolled in an Art History course based in DC on two Saturdays, and a Psychology course which is a weekend course in Baltimore, MD.  These were about $300 each.

 

If you are thinking about coming – do it!  I have has the best year experiencing the USA and meeting new friends from around the world!

And I now have another year to look forward to as I just extended with my family for 2012-2013

Happy Hannah’s Hijinks in Virginia

I have been an au pair in America for about 5 months. I came to America soon after finishing High School as a GAP year because I had no clue what to do with my life.  I enjoy looking after children from previous babysitting jobs so I decided this was a great way to travel and work.

My family lives in Virginia about 30 minutes out of Washington DC. I look after a four year old and coincidentally we have the same name. Both my host parents work outside the house so my normal working hours are 8am-4.45pm. My schedule is based around a kindergarten schedule so we do reading/writing/math and some art/music in the morning then in the afternoon we walk to the community swimming pool or play outside.

I have been very lucky to have had the chance to do a decent amount of travelling in the first three months I was here. My host mom’s job required her to go on work trips regularly. I have been to New York City, Denver/Colorado, Miami/South Florida and Minnesota. When we go away on vacation I don’t work besides maybe one day so that my host parents can go and do something. Also, I have done some weekend trips to Niagara Falls/Canada, Maryland and West Virginia. I have a week of vacation booked on the West Coast in September as one of my two weeks of paid vacation.

I have met many other au pairs from the area including a couple New Zealanders. We do all sorts of things like shopping, going to the cinemas, Starbucks and exploring DC and Northern Virginia and even further afield.

My community counselor is really helpful and always there when I need advice. She organizes great cluster events too and every meeting we get a rubber duck (she is obsessed with rubber ducks) to add to the collection. A few of the cluster events she has organized are an outdoor movie showing of Dirty Dancing, Fireworks at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC and an Olympics Pool Party.

I am looking forward to the next 7 months of my experience in the USA 

Lauren tells us about her year in America as an Au Pair

My Year so far in America

I arrived in America in September of 2011 and now with less than 2 months left I’ve realized how quickly a year flies by. After arriving in a new country, orientation was a great opportunity to meet other girls who I would be spending my year with.

I live in the New York State, and the city is just an easy train ride away. New York is such a truly amazing city with so much going on. Every season brings a whole new feel to the city. Christmas in New York was probably my favourite time here – amazing Christmas markets and ice skating rinks throughout the city. I’ve also seen a Broadway show, a NY Knicks Basketball game, Ice Hockey games and spent New Years Eve in Times Square and now that summer is here I’m planning on going to a NY Yankees game.

New York City! Hard to beat

My host family have 3 children, aged 18, 16 and 11 however the oldest attends boarding school so for the most part there’s only 2 of the kids at home. I’ve loved my time here with my host family, they’re really lovely and welcoming and have made me feel completely at home here. I also love the town I live in as it’s a small, pretty town with the beach only 5 minutes away, yet New York City is so close and accessible.

There are a lot of other au pairs in my area which is really great as I’ve met so many great friends here and they’re from all around the world.

For the educational requirements, I took two travel courses through BMCC. The first was a Washington DC course. There are 3 classes you have to attend and then a weekend trip to DC. The second course was a Niagara Falls trip. There is a huge range of courses available to take but I chose these travel ones as it’s a good way to gain your educational credits and visit some other cities at the same time. Both trips were a lot of fun and were another good opportunity to meet more au pairs.

One of the greatest aspects of my year here has been the opportunity for travel throughout the States. As well as DC and Niagara Falls, I’ve visited Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. Each city is so different and all were amazing. And from NYC many of them are only a reasonably short bus ride.

Next week I’m heading to California with a friend for a road trip, starting in L.A. and heading up the coast to San Francisco. I can’t wait to visit the West Coast and have the ‘California road trip’ experience but once I return I will only have about 3 weeks left before my year is up.

When you first arrive, a year seems like so much time but it honestly disappears before you know it. I’ve had such a great year here, met so many amazing friends and had a great host family. I know I will miss all the wonderful people here and the vibrant city. (Though I probably won’t miss people never understanding my kiwi accent or giving me a strange look when I call flip-flops ‘jandals’).

For anyone considering doing the Au Pair in America programme I would definitely recommend it. ~ Lauren Grierson (Hobsonville, Auckland placed in NY State)

Things you should know about working as a nanny in USA


 

 

 

Can I work in USA without a J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa?

Not legally – some people in the past have entered and worked on a tourist visa (visa waiver), but you should think twice (maybe more than twice) before you do so. Maybe friends of someone you know have done it without any problems – but please read on. The US government have clear rules to protect nannies coming to America and to reassure American families that the nanny they employ has been carefully selected and prepared for this demanding job. Only a few US appointed and approved agencies – such as Au Pair in America – are authorised by the government to arrange legal nanny visas.

Today, with the internet ads, many nannies are tempted to find families themselves. Sometimes, of course, they end up in nice families, but very often – as we know from our experience – the illegal nanny job can turn into the job from hell. The family will reassure you that it is ok and perfectly legal but unless you have the right working visa in your passport BEFORE you leave New Zealand – you’re not legal! You have to ask yourself why these families don’t want to be screened by a large agency? It it because they don’t think their nanny is worth the fee? Will your pay cheques bounce? Are they hiding something?

At Nannies Abroad we sometimes receive phone calls from desperate mothers and fathers whose daughters left for America with no visa or with a tourist visa, to work in a family they found themselves on the internet. The situations these girls are in are often frightening and unbelievable (just like you see on TV). They plead with us to help their daughter by taking her into our legal program so they can be protected, but this is not an option by then because a legal “J-1″ visa can only be issued to applicants before they leave NZ. Under no circumstances will US Immigration issue one from within USA. All we can do is advise the nanny to return home as soon as possible and perhaps go through the channels correctly this time.

There are in fact serious risks involved in going to the US as a nanny without the help of a government-authorised program. For example…

Its illegal.

The US government strictly warns that you may not work in America if you have a tourist visa, even if you only receive your room and board and no salary. Many people are discovered at LA airport and turned back. Others are arrested later (once in the family) and deported. Their names are put on a computerised “black list” and they are not allowed to return to the United States for many years. All ‘illegal aliens’ are arrested.

The warning of the American Embassy: “It is strictly forbidden to work or study in the United States with a tourist visa! This applies even if you do not earn a wage and receive compensation in the form of meals and lodging. Visitors who are found to have take up work, in spite of this warning, run the risk of being arrested and expelled from the country.”

The family from HELL

You may receive a very tempting offer from an American family – your own car to use, a great salary, great working week – no weekends, a huge house, your own flat, “wonderful children who love their nannies”, and even a “contract” – when you arrive. But the conditions of the contract will be dictated by the family, not you, and if they don’t respect the contract – which is of no value because you are there illegally, who will help protect you against being taken advantage of? Nobody. You may find that your “dream job” lasts only two weeks. If you don’t get on with the Mom or if you can’t manage their “wonderful children” they can sack you, and they won’t think twice about doing that, because you have taken ALL the risks. The family can treat you the way they want, change your job description or working conditions – just because they can!. You will have to accept this or leave, in the hope of finding another family on your own. You may find yourself in the street with no place to go and nobody to turn to. The police? They will arrest you and ask to see your ‘papers’ and you will be detained as an ‘illegal alien’.

Unexpected changes.

Even if your host family treats you fairly, the conditions in the family can suddenly change and result in your having to leave: death, divorce, separation, illness, financial problems, moving away, or the mother, for example, could decide to stop working and stay at home and wouldn’t need you anymore. There would be no organisation ready to help you find a new family. With businesses going into bankruptcy in USA it is a normal thing for people to lose their jobs.

Deportation

In 1996, the American Congress passed new legislation giving the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) a budget of 748 million dollars and new draconian powers to eliminate all persons living or working illegally in the USA. The INS now has over 15,000 agents out looking for them, and in the first two years (1996/1997) – about 285,000 people were arrested and deported. While waiting for their deportation these people are usually sent to one of the many overcrowded internment centers around the country, where you can find anything but five-star comfort. (In November 1998, the prisoners staged a protest in a New York detention center: 80 people were sleeping on mattresses in a dormitory built to hold 42. You will agree that this is not exactly the kind of “cultural exchange” that the US government wants visiting Kiwis to experience).

As an illegal nanny, you will have to constantly live with the possibility of being discovered , or arrested by the police and sent home at your expense. Nannies with a legal “J-1″ Cultural Exchange visa in their passport don’t have to worry about this.

Health and accident insurance.

As an illegal worker, you will have to organise your own Medical Insurance for the whole time you are in USA. A trip to the doctor can cost $200+US (NZ$250+). If you crash the parents car – or ‘your car’, the police will automatically ask for your papers, – you will not have car insurance so will have to pay for it yourself. Travel Insurance for 12 months through a travel agency is $2000+NZD.

It’s really not worth the risks and there are no benefits. The flights provided by Nannies Abroad and Au Pair in America are discounted heavily – so in fact you are better off. It’s always good to be safe – like Mum says “better to be safe than sorry”.

Tina has been with Au Pair in America a month shy of 2 years

I have been with Au Pair in America a month shy of 2 years now, and planning my trip home brings a lot of mixed emotions. I am so excited to see my family and friends again, but very sad to be leaving America and the life I have made here. I also feel extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity.

Washington DC

I decided to join the Au Pair in America Program when I was 23. I had been unemployed for about 6 months and was feeling pretty lost with what to do with my life. Once I made the decision, the process was easy. I matched with a family in Virginia, with 2 girls aged 2 and 4.

 

 

 

Orientation was awesome, I remember first being shocked at the heat (I left winter for summer in the middle of June) and incredibly jet lagged but in awe of everything around me.

Statue of Liberty (NY)

We did the tour of New York on the 3rd night I was there and I instantly felt like I was where I was supposed to be. New York was, and still is the most amazing city I have ever been to. I was very nervous to meet my host family for the first time. I caught the train from Connecticut to Washington DC and met my host father at Union Station. He was so nice and made me feel very comfortable straight away. The previous au pair was still at the house and she helped me get settled in, and took me to open a bank account and get my social security number. Looking after the kids was great. I have worked as a nanny for 3 different families so I had a good idea of what it entailed.
My first year was amazing, I traveled to Boston and Chicago and went back to New York a few times. The first time I saw a show on Broadway was a dream come true. I saw Phantom of the Opera and cried the whole time, I couldn’t believe I was finally there. I also went to Washington DC a lot as I lived about half an hour from the city. In my summer vacation I went camping in New Jersey and hung out on the Jersey Shore.

With some other au pairs

I extended for a second year with the same family and was determined to make that my year for doing the things I had dreamed of. I went down to Biloxi, Mississippi to see Liza Minnelli perform, which was something I never thought I would be able to do (I’m a huuuge fan!). I also went briefly to New Orleans. I drove with a couple of friends to the place where Dirty Dancing was filmed, Mountain Lake Resort, aka Kellermans. We participated in a Dirty Dancing weekend which was so much fun! Over Christmas we took a dream vacation down to Florida and spent 4 days at Disney World and 2 days at Universal Studios. Disney was so amazing that I ended up going to Disneyland in L.A a couple of months later. I met up with a friend from New Zealand and we went to Las Vegas and spent a night at the Bellagio Hotel.

Bugs Bunny!

My community counselor (Diane) is the greatest. We have really fun cluster meetings and I feel like I can ask her about anything, the support is always there. I made some great friends out of my own cluster and from nearby clusters as well. There are always people to spend time with when you are not working and I have learnt so much about other cultures too!
It has been the most amazing experience of my life and I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and how I view the world. Not everybody is in a position to do this program, so for those who are I encourage everyone to just go for it. I will never forget my time here and I will be forever thankful to everyone who was a part of it.

Halloween American Style

My Year so far in the USA: Erin (New Zealand)

August 2011

I arrived in New York on the 21st of August 2011 to start orientation on the 22nd. My roommates were both German, and both live about half an hour away now in Arlington, Virginia. Orientation was fun, I met a lot of cool people, and the highlight was of course the New York tour. I often comment to a friend of mine who is now living in New York that you never forget the first time you step out into the city – it is truly magical.

This is one of my favourite pictures from New York on the tour as it shows the craziness and business of times square. I absolutely fell in love with NYC that night and I love going back there.

I did rematch from my initial host family, and matched with another family in Northern Virginia, I live about a 30 minute metro ride from DC. My host parents are only 2 and 5 years older than me which is nice, and they have one daughter who is now 20 months old who I look after from 7:30-4:30 Monday through Friday which leaves my weekends free. They are really wonderful and kind people and I am so glad I have the opportunity to be their au pair.

My room is in the basement, and has two large windows so it is not dark, and I have a large walk in closet and my own bathroom. Our house is not huge, but it is 4 bedrooms and in a quiet cul-de-sac so it is nice and neighbourly. I attended a block party the night I arrived with the family!

 

September 2011

I made friends with another New Zealander, Tina, through our NZ APIA page which was great as she showed me around and showed me the ropes. We initially met when she offered to take me to DC to sightsee for the day. DC is an amazing city – there are loads of free museums to look at as well as all the monuments. We spent 9 hours walking round and still I didn’t get to see everything.

Capitol Building

At Zac Brown Band

I also got introduced to some pretty cool American country bands – the Zac Brown Band and Sonia Leigh, both of whose music I now really enjoy. We went to their concert at the Jiffy Lube Live in Virignia, which is a large outdoor arena where you can take a picnic blanket and lawn chairs and settle down and enjoy the music.

 

 

 

October 2011

October brought my first experience of Halloween, American style! Also my first experience of falling snow, as I had previously only been snowboarding on settled snow in New Zealand.

For Halloween I dressed as little red riding hood, and took the baby trick or treating for a little bit – she was dressed as a pumpkin, and then drove to Tina’s and we went trick or treating in her neighbourhood and got loads of candy.

Halloween

 

 

my car after it snowed

 

 

 

 

Also on Halloween weekend it snowed – in October – here. Not much but it was exciting. The picture below is in the falling snow, I had to crop the baby out as my host family do not want pictures of her on the internet.

Shenandoah

My host family also took me on a drive on Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah national park to see the leaves change. The seasons here are incredible and so defined. Literally one day the leaves will be green, and a few days later they are beautiful gold, brown and orange leaves.

 

 

November 2011

Breakfast at Baby's Table

We found out that the movie, Dirty Dancing, was filmed in Virginia at the Mountain Lake Hotel, about 4 hours drive from where we live. We found they offer themed weekends there where we ate breakfast at baby’s table, learned to dance, did karaoke, toured the grounds and saw the movie again.

 

 

Dirty Dancing Weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2011

In order to get credits for the educational requirement, I did the New York class through the Borough of Manhattan Community College, which included three classes learning about New York and a weekend trip to New York. The weekend trip was very exciting, I went with a fellow APIA au pair from the Czech Republic and also with an Australian cultural care au pair. We did a tour on the Saturday, and then Saturday night and Sunday were free to explore the city. It was loads of fun and earned half of the required credits.

New York Study Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also in December, we decided to go to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida for Christmas and my birthday. We drove to Florida (14 hours straight) and it was incredible seeing the sun rise over the harbour when I drove into Florida state. We did six parks in five days, which was exhausting but loads of fun, although it is a really busy time to go with quite long waits at each park. It did make me feel better about Christmas and my birthday though as we were away and so busy it didn’t feel too bad not being home with family.

Magic Kingdom

 

 

My Birthday at Universal Studios

 

 

 

January 2012

I spent New Years with two German friends at Old Town Alexandria, where there was a disco set up in front of the monument and a New Years Countdown. It was a really different experience to any of my past New Years eves…

The countdown on the Momument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January was also the first and only big-ish snowfall I have had here in Virginia. The baby and I got to play for one day in the little bit that fell, which was fun.

playing in the snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2012

In February we hit the snow to go snowboarding and skiing. I have found I am much better at skiing than snowboarding! We went to Mt Liberty in Pennsylvania which is about 2 hours away.

I am much better at skiing than snowboarding!

We also caught a college basketball game in DC – American University v Lafayette University which we got tickets for $5 from groupon.

I also went to Baltimore with another Au Pair, and had a day looking around there. It is quite pretty on the waterfront, but you don’t really want to go wandering around further uptown….

 

I also travelled on the Megabus to Boston, which is an overnight 8 hour trip each way so we left Friday night and slept on the bus, spent Saturday in Boston and then came home and slept on the bus Saturday night to get back to DC Sunday. It was tiring, but I loved Boston and I got to go and see the Harvard Law School and also see lots of sights in Boston. We did bus tour which also included a water duck (bus that goes into the water and turns into a boat) to see the harbour.

A little different from Waikato Law School

 

March 2012

In March, a German au pair and I did a one day trip to Toronto, in Canada for St Patricks Day by sleeping on the bus overnight Friday, spending Saturday in Toronto and then sleeping on the bus back overnight Saturday night. Its about 10 hours each way. Toronto is an amazing city, very arty and what I would compare to Wellington.

My first Guinness

In March I also visited some more DC museums – the American Indian Museum, the Botanical Gardens and the Art Galleries.

 

 

 

 

 

April 2012

Tina and I went to see Winchester, a small town about an hour away which is famous for its apples, and is also the home town of country singer, Patsy Cline. We did a tour of her house, and then walked around the town and shopped in the small craft shops. It is a neat town and I hope to attend their Apple Blossom Festival next year.

Winchester, a small town about an hour away

 

 

 

 

 

We also went to the local University Mall Theatre to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show, they do a midnight showing where they also have actors that interact with the audience which was definitely an experience.

For Easter I spent the Sunday with my host family, and was most surprised to find that Good Friday and Easter Monday are not holidays here. We went to my host mum’s parents house and had a family lunch and the kids did an easter egg hunt. My host family also found me Cadbury chocolate for easter.

I also did another course to complete the educational requirement, this time it was the Amish and Philadelphia course. We did the tour, on the Saturday we toured an Amish farm house and then had an Amish style family lunch. We then went on to Philadelphia and did a mural tour, then had the evening free, and Sunday we did a historic tour and then had some free time.

Amish Tour in Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

May 2012

I just signed my extension papers last night and am really looking forward to another year here in the US. Upcoming trips we have planned include – New York, a Bahamas Cruise, British Colombia in Canada, the Outerbanks in North Carolina, Texas, Vegas and a cross-country tour for my travel month.

I just signed my extension papers last night and am really looking forward to another year here

 

This experience has been amazing and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to spend time getting to see the US, studying in the US, networking with people from many different countries and getting to know and care for an amazing host family and their children.

Erin