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Posts Tagged ‘au pair’

“How long have you been in the United States?” “Six months” “And you?” “What do you miss most?” “

fractal

(The Julia Set, Public Domain)

I miss my family.” “I miss the bakery down the street.” “ The music is so different here!!!”

The dialog above describes “culture shock.” Culture shock comes with separation from one’s own family and country, and with living in the midst of a very different culture. Culture shock doesn’t mean it isn’t a good experience to live abroad, but it does mean things are very different. How can au pairs cope gracefully?

One simple way to keep in touch with “home,” while remaining open to new cultural experiences, is to create a “home space,” a place that contains colors, sounds, smells, books, and other things from “home.” This little space becomes a retreat, especially in the evening when activity has quieted in the Host Family home.

There is a psychological principle involved in spending “home time” just before bedtime. We remember best what we learn first (e.g., early in the day) and last (e.g., just before bed)—and we remember less about what happens in-between.  The former increased memory and learning is called the principle of primacy; the latter is called the principle of recency.

Culture shock means that old and the new cultures needs to be clarified and integrated. Au pairs are busy all day, and modern American culture (which they came to the United States to experience) fills the beginning and the middle of the day. Making a little time for “home meditation” at the end of the day helps keep the whole picture in focus.

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An au pair may love his/her new Host Family and the children s/he cares for—and an au pair may be homesick and sad at the same time. What is best to do?

GoAuPair takes special precautions to help Host Families and au pairs prevent homesickness. A high percentage of au pairs (69% or more) have lived away from home before coming to this country. Such experiences lessen the chance of homesickness. GoAuPair recommends that Host Families ask the au pair about   independent living during the interview process.

Local Area Representatives next provide immediate support. When a new au pair arrives, s/he is welcomed within 48 hours by the LAR, and immediate needs are met. An initial activity is scheduled soon thereafter. Meeting other au pairs, and becoming quickly familiar with the local area, further smooth the transition.

In the event these  normal precautions still leave a feeling of homesickness to be handled, it is important for the au pair to remember to stay busy, to stay positive, to remember that his/her working visit to this country is really quite short—and to talk about his/her feelings as part of family/LAR sharing times.

New Mexico, Florida, and Arizona are the three states in the U.S.  with the most sunshine. NM blue skies lift moods, and an active and increasingly cosmopolitan NM lifestyle provides real interest. Understanding Host Families and LARs listen. All these things help make au pair homesickness very manageable.

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Louis Sergent, 16, who is in his first year at...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back-to-School is a flurry of activity, and questions abound. How can I arrange homework help for my children, right from the beginning of their classes? Do my children need special tutoring? Back-to-School becomes much easier for families with an au pair.

Au pairs can give homework help and tutoring. Take time to sync the family schedule with your au pair this month, to make sure that s/he is prepared to meet these extra needs for you.

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