Name: Jessica Hopley
Country: South Africa
Placed: Vienna, Virginia
It was my mom who first suggested an au pair program to me a few years ago, and when an Au Pair in America representative came to my high school and told us more about the program, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. It was the perfect opportunity to take time out before deciding on my future studies and career.
I live in a town called Vienna in the state of Virginia, which is about 20 minutes away from Washington D.C, the Capital. I love living here and it has been great for sightseeing and attractions, plus the parades and festivals have been fun to see. We also have a swimming pool and tennis courts, which are great during the summer! Baltimore and Annapolis are really nice towns and not too far from DC and great for day trips. The beach is not a long drive either!
There are five kids in my host family. I only take care of the 4 youngest children, as the eldest drives and does not really need an au pair. The 13-year-old boy is kind hearted, and a typical teenager. He plays Lacrosse, basketball and is always up for a game of football with his friends. The other thirteen year old was adopted from Russia when she was 2. She loves to dance and aspires to be a cheerleader. The second youngest is 10 and is an outstanding all rounder. Finally, the baby of the family is a caring little 7 year old girl. She loves playing with her Barbie and baby dolls, but she is also a fierce competitor whenever she plays sport. Having so many children means things are never boring! My family is busy, sporty, fun and always on the go!
Going to college here has been a great way to meet new people. I did an interior design and a computer class at a local Community College. I have also travelled quite a bit and have been to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York a few times. The Grand Canyon was mind-blowing and driving up Mulholland Drive in LA made me feel like a movie star. I love the fact that I can say that I saw the Hollywood sign! I plan on travelling during my 13th month and would like to go back to Boston and see other parts of the west coast.
The most valuable aspect of being an au pair is that I’ve learned to appreciate and accept different cultures, not only the American culture, but the cultures of all the other au pairs from around the world. I’ve become so proud of my own country and when someone asks me where I’m from, I proudly say South Africa!
My favourite memory of my au pair experience would have to be all the friendships I have made. My host family welcomed me so warmly and they have had such a great impact on my life. The friends I made here will last me a lifetime! I definitely recommend the program!
Name: Alejandra Vargas Castillo
Country: Costa Rica
I decided to become an au pair because it is the best and safest way to travel to the US and experience something new. I wanted to take a break from my studies and as I really like spending time with children thought that this would be a great opportunity.
I live with my host family in Hawaii on a beautiful island near the beach. Having the chance to live here and learn about this culture was like a dream come true! I get to go surfing, swimming and running a lot, which I love and it is a great place for having fun with the kids.
I take care of two children, a 4 year old girl and a 2 ½ year old boy. It took a little while for them to get used to me, but we soon grew close and now they are like my little brother and sister. I get along very well with my host family, they respect me and allow me a lot of freedom. They treat me like a member of the family and I think that was why it was so easy to adapt to being here, considering the fact that it was my first time away from home.
There are five other au pairs on the island and we love to go out and meet new people. We often go hiking together, go to the movies, or explore the area - we’ve even gone skydiving! We are very good friends and enjoy spending time together.
I took two courses at the Hawaiian Pacific University, English and a Journalism course, which was great because this is what I studied at home, so I could continue my education.
My favorite memory must be the friendships that I have made. Growing so close to people from other countries that are so different from mine is unbelievable, and I have really improved my English too.
My experience as an au pair has been so great that I am extending my visa for another six months. I don’t want to think of the day that I have to say good bye, especially to the children, but I know that when the time comes I will be going home a more mature person, with great memories.