It’s an exciting time to be in America! Why? Because the holidays are right around the corner! Everyone across the USA is caught up in the hustle & bustle of the season, doing last-minute shopping, baking special sweet treats and spending extra quality time with their loved ones.
For people spending the holidays away from their family this year—like au pairs, for example—it can sometimes be a difficult season. After all, so much of what makes this time of year so wonderful is sharing timeheld traditions with people you care about. But the good news is, this time of year can be an opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone and embrace new customs with your host family and au pair friends!
In times of sadness or uncertainty, it’s important to remember why you embarked on this exciting adventure in the first place—to meet new people, experience a new country and culture, and to learn about yourself! You took the incredible leap to be an au pair in the USA because you wanted to gain confidence, independence, and self-assuredness to help you in your future endeavors … and for many au pairs, that means finding the strength to enjoy the holidays in a brand new way with people you’re still getting to know.
Just think—one day, you’ll look back on this time and be proud of yourself for celebrating the holidays in a new part of the world. Maybe you’ll miss this special time of year … maybe you’ll even come back to America to celebrate with your host family again!
No matter what, we want to help you push past any homesickness you may encounter. Being homesick is a normal part of the au pair experience, but with a little advice from fellow au pairs, you can overcome it in no time at all.
Here are some tips and tricks from other members of the Cultural Care community to help you manage (or avoid!) homesickness:
“I haven’t had any homesickness yet but I would say talk with host family and friends—they’ll understand you and it’s good to talk with someone about it. Also talk with family and/or friends back home. Some people find it better to talk with the family often and some just once in a while. Plan things during your free time, go to new places, and things like that! Keep yourself busy.” — Mimmi Karlsson
“In my opinion the best thing to do is make a plan about what you want to do in your free time—because usually in that time is when you get homesick. Hang out with other people or try to find a hobby. That helps a lot. And for the holidays, just think that this program is just for a year and you can always go back home.” — Norma Orozco
“Keep busy and tell your host parents! They always gave me some special attention when I was feeling homesick.” — Laura Van de Ven
“Make sure to have plans in your free time. Hikes, gym, movies, drinks, etc. Talk to your host family about it, too! They are the ones around and it feels good if you can let your feelings out and know they care about you like you’re family too. Also, try to not talk to the people you miss too much. It’s good to plan a call once in a while. But calling them a lot makes it harder.
Remember to be positive, and remind yourself why you are doing this. Think about every thing you are learning and how much this will help you grow as a person!” — Marian Geenen
“Remember why you are in the USA. Remember what you wanted to learn about the world, and about yourself. Sometimes in our home countries we feel like we have to be a certain way because of the friends and family around us. In the USA we can learn more about ourselves away from the circles we were always in back home. Remembering that you can spread your wings a little bit further in USA can make you feel less homesick for sure.
Text your family and friends when you feel sad, but also talk to your new friends about what you miss back home. They will probably share things with you that they miss about their home. This way you will feel less alone, and you will be helping a friend feel less alone too … and then guess what? You’ll both feel more at home.
Don’t try to avoid homesickness all the time. It’s important to let yourself feel whatever it is you feel in the moment —and then move on. Go do something you enjoy, give your host kid a hug, or make food from home for everyone to share. This is a great opportunity to be strong and stand on your own—that’s one of the main reasons I became an au pair in the first place! And I don’t regret a minute of it.” — Liesl Prinsloo
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