To all my au pair friends and community: “Congratulations!” You have survived your first year in the States. Now, what’s next?
During your last months as an au pair in a new country, you start to think about what will happen to you after this experience… and that is when I started considering to extend my Au Pair adventure.
Extending means a lot of things: the desire to continue your life abroad, the feeling of freedom and independence, the desire to explore more, the joy of sharing your culture and lifestyle with other people and making new friends.But there is quite an elaborate thinking process behind this one decision. The reasons might be now completely different than they were the first time around. Let me explain it to you with a little list of pros and cons.
- You get to explore more: if you think that you haven’t seen enough during your first year because of many circumstances, extending can be a good way to explore what you’ve missed
- You can continue to live your American dream: if the States were always your dream and one year wasn’t enough for you, you have the opportunity to extend your program for 6,9 or 12 more months.
- New friendships: If during your first year you bonded with good people, another year can give you the chance to expand this circle of friends.
- Improve your language skills: learning a language requires lot of time and practice so extension can be a good reason to keep improving.
- You can find a new family in another state ( which gives you an amazing opportunity to explore a new region ). You can stay with the same family for longer. I think this is one of the main reasons why au pairs decide to extend. They really enjoyed their time with the host family so they want to continue with it for another year or they want to have the same experience but in another state so they get to learn more about the culture of a different state (the majority of the au pairs want to extend in the other coast so they can see the differences between them). Moreover, sometimes some au pairs didn’t feel a good connection with the host family during their first year. You might want to extend to find another one you are more compatible with.
- You can’t see your family and friends for another year: be mindful that you will need to wait to see your family and friends again because of your decision, unless they will come to visit you.
- You may not like the new place (unless you have extended at the same place): sometimes it can happen that the new place doesn’t fit you. Expectations can be different so it’s up to you if you are willing to take this risk.
- If you have extended with a new family, you may not like it after a while: Extending is always a risk to take. Sometimes you are lucky and you like the new family more than the previous one, sometimes you are not the perfect match.
- You can realize that you don’t want to be an au pair anymore: being an au pair can be challenging, afterall it is a proper job. You might realize that one year was enough and you had your great experience, now it’s time to go back home.
But to me the pros were outweighing the cons from the very start. I think I always knew I would want to extend my Au Pair adventure.Regarding my personal experience, after having been an au pair in New York for nearly a year I wasn’t really thinking about extending my stay. I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to continue this journey here. But after analyzing all the options in more detail, I decided to give it a try. I thought maybe something positive could come out of it and I didn’t want to have any regrets for not taking that chance. I always think that opportunities need to be taken no matter what because they only happen once and you really do only have one life. In the worst case, you learn from your mistakes and you will be more cautious the next time.
I have recently moved to San Francisco, the lifestyle here is so different from the fast pace of New York and I’m absolutely loving it. Couldn’t be happier I decided to take the plunge and followed my heart. I feel like the decision to extend my au pair stay was definitely one I will not regret. I hope I inspired you guys to consider starting your own journey or extending your stay!