I grew up in a small town in New Zealand, and throughout my childhood, the importance of travel and exploring other cultures was instilled in me. My family hosted a number of exchange students from all over Asia, and at the age of 15, I myself went on an exchange to Australia for a school term. On top of that we were very fortunate to be able to take family vacations to other countries, and so at the age 12, I made my first trip to the USA. I remember sitting in a restaurant after a day at Disneyland and wondering why Americans put down their knives and ate with a fork! I was very intrigued with many aspects of American culture from that point on and wanted to explore it more!
In 1997, at the age of 22, I spent a month traveling around the Southern States on a Country Dance Tour (I used to teach and compete in Country Line Dancing….back in the day!). I had an amazing trip and when I returned to New Zealand I realized that I wanted to experience the USA more than from a tourist’s point of view! I wanted to really submerge myself in American culture for a longer period of time. I was exploring my options and at about the same time I came across an “Au Pair” ad in the newspaper. I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity for me!
From the day I saw the ad, I was accepted and found myself landing in St Louis, Missouri just three months later. It was the middle of July, 1998, and I remember the sweltering heat and humidity hitting me as I stepped off the plane! Waiting to greet me with signs and balloons was my new family for the next 12 months. I was now a big sister to an adorable three-month old baby boy and a cute little two-year old girl!
My year as an Au Pair was definitely exciting! I made the most of every opportunity and got to experience so many different aspects of American culture and made many lifelong friends. From baseball and football games, concerts, county fairs, festivals and parades, and even a trip to a pumpkin patch, I definitely was feeling very “Americanized” by the end of the year! One of the highlights was the 4th of July Parade and fireworks which I attended with my host family. I also took advantage of my time off and traveled to Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
At the end of the year, I returned to New Zealand for five months with my new “American” boyfriend and worked on getting an International Student Visa so that I could return to the States for another year and begin my teaching studies. Well, to sum it up in a nutshell, the boyfriend proposed just as we were getting ready to head back to the States, we got married two years later and here I still am living in the USA 15 years after coming over for just a one year experience!!!
I now live in Longmont, Colorado with my husband and two-year-old little girl. I am enjoying being a stay home mum after teaching middle school English for eight years. Having been an Au Pair myself, I completely understand what the program is all about and believe I can use my experience to offer excellent support for both Au Pairs and host families.
Thursday, 8 August 2013 2:21 PM