Congratulations on getting your new au pair! What an exciting time. It is a good idea to have realistic expectations so your match can get started off on the right track.
Arrival – As excited as your au pair is going to be chances are she is also going to be wiped out. The regulations state that au pairs cannot be responsible for the children during the first 3 days after arrival so that they can have time to acclimate to your home and the US. It is a good idea to use this time to help her to get to know your home and family. Don’t plan anything too big during the first few days and give her a chance to settle in.
Driving – Even the best of drivers can be intimidated by driving in the US. Our roads and vehicles are bigger than they are used to and many countries don’t have the same standards of driving. We recommend all au pairs get a US drivers license but many can drive on their country’s license. Be prepared to ease your au pair into driving and don’t get frustrated if she doesn’t pick it up right away.
Homesickness – As you can imagine being away from friends and family isn’t easy for anyone. Add to that being in a different country and speaking a different language and it can get quite difficult. Encourage your au pair to get out and meet people. Starting on her education is a good start, but there are a lot of other possibilities. Churches, international student organizations, meet up groups, rec leagues and ethnic restaurants are good places to meet new people. Your Area Director will have some ideas for your area.
A good piece of advice is to treat your au pair how you would want someone to treat your son or daughter if they were staying with them. If you always keep that in mind, then you won’t go wrong.
*** ADVICE TO AU PAIRS***
Remember that while your host family, Area Director and agency are here to help you, ultimately your happiness is up to you. You have an amazing opportunity to gain so many new and beneficial experiences. Take advantage of every chance you get to learn and grow. Remember that you are here to 1) help make your host family’s lives easier, and 2) learn about the US. Don’t be surprised if families in the US raise their children differently than you are used to. Find out how they want you to assist them in raising their children and then follow their lead. Finally, although it will be an adjustment at first, if you give it your best you will have one of the greatest experiences of your life.