DEALING WITH HOMESICKENESS
Experiencing homesickness is absolutely normal, and this has happened to most of us. Feeling sad, crying, missing family and friends and feeling depressed is absolutely normal. It is being a part of being an Au pair. You need to give yourself time.
It will take you roughly 1-3 months to settle into your new environment but you need to realise it is baby steps. Before leaving South Africa find out who is leaving on the same day or roughly at the time and make contact before you leave. You will most likely meet new friends through the Area Directors once you arrive in the country. In most countries you will receive a welcome pack with names and numbers of au pairs in the area. Make contact and reach out to other au pairs , set up coffee, play dates and explore together and get to know your surroundings. Keep busy. Each month the Area Directors arrange meetings for the au pairs. Don’t miss them, go along as this is where you will make new friendships and you can talk about your experience so far, pick up some tips and general support from the AD and other AP’s. In most cases the host family have friends who have au pairs, which would be an immediate introduction.
The host family is depending on you and has chosen you to be their au pair for the year. They are counting on you to take over childcare within a few days of your arrival. It does take time building relationships with the parents and the children. Keep open and honest communication. The children have more than likely had many au pairs and will test you in the beginning to see how far they can push you. You need to establish the boundaries and get them into their daily routine quickly. Speak to the parents and find out what their normal daily routine consists of and take control.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Be proud that you made the decision to step out of your comfort zone. You are living in a foreign country where everything is new. Be positive as it takes courage to grow as a person. Remember the reason you decided to embark on this journey, your dreams and your goals. Decorate your bedroom with pictures of family and friends. There is nothing better than rolling over in bed to see a photo of your parents on the nightstand. Plan a week-end away to sightsee. Go to the beach in summer or snowboard in winter. Do something exciting like go to concert or festival. Book a Broadway show. Go to a theme park. This will take your mind off being away from home and will give you something to look forward to.
Try and avoid too much communication with home in the beginning, as this is hard on you and your parents.
Once you have settled into everyday life, you will more than likely fall in love with the country, children and family and forever be in contact.