About 3 months ago, just before her departure I interviewed Madeleine. You can check out the previous Interview here. Today I follow up on how she is doing and whether her thoughts and expectations turned out to be true or not. Have fun!
Madeleine, last time I spoke to you we talked about things that you were afraid of, which were: not knowing what the communication with the family would be like, if they are how they presented themselves via Skype and if you are going to have chemistry when you meet. How did it all go since your arrival?
So communication is brilliant, that´s all great and I do get along with them. I´d say that everyone is how they presented themselves on Skype, except for my host mum.
So, what does that mean? Is she not open and friendly as she presented herself?
We do get along, don’t get me wrong, only it took a little while for me to get used to her personality. And the way she is in real life is not how she was with me on Skype.
If you would have had the whole picture beforehand would you still have chosen this family?
Yes for sure. I do feel that I am in the right place. And even if I had all information before my departure, I still would have chosen this family. I believe that there isn’t a family that is 100% perfect. What I do believe though is that there are good matches and there are always a few things you will have to work on. I think that if we learn how to deal with different personalities in a constructive way, that we grow from that. Next year when I leave the US, I will go and work in a company and I am sure I will have lots of different people to get along with, so I think this is a good way to learn.
How long did it take to build a relationship with the children?
I´d say that we liked each other from the very beginning, but still it takes time to really know them and build a bond. I´d say it took about 5 weeks. I must add that the previous au pair had an amazing reputation with the kids, so I was a bit frightened that it would be hard to step into her position, but I think I managed well. In the very beginning I said to the kids: “We can have an amazing time together, or not. It´s entirely up to you. If you choose to misbehave, then you´ll see what happens…”. I haven’t really had any issues with them. I think its important to be very clear in the beginning that you will not accept any form of disrespect and then build the relationship from there.
Before you left Germany, you told me that you were going through a phase of mood swings. How has your mood been since your departure?
I must tell you, the mood swings completely stopped with my departure. I think those emotions originated in not knowing what was coming, but as soon as I arrived and settled into my new life, I was completely fine.
Have you dealt with homesickness?
No, not at all. But I was never really a person who gets homesick.
What have you done/seen so far that you really enjoyed?
I really enjoyed the Orientation days in New York, going to San Diego with the family, watching a Sea Hawks Game, I went to Lake Washington and I did some road trips with friends.
Between Germany and the USA, what differences have you noticed?
First of all, driving is a bit different here. For example you can turn right even if the lights are red or you can drive on the left lane even if you´re not the faster car. What surprised me in a positive way is how open and friendly americans are. I felt really welcomed when I arrived, but generally when going out I like that Americans are open to just having a chat in the street even if they don’t know you. I really enjoy that.
Are you happy with your life in Seattle or would you rather be somewhere else in the US?
I am totally happy with my area. It is really beautiful. Seattle downtown is not very big, you can basically finish sightseeing in one day, but I like it here. There is an outdoor mall nearby that I go to a lot. I feel very comfortable.
How did you make friends? Do you have any american friends?
My friends are mainly other German Au Pairs. I met my friends through Whatsapp groups. It is amazing how many groups are out there! In the beginning I was in nearly 20 groups! There seriously is a group for everything. In the Seattle area are more than 100 German au pairs and many au pairs from other countries! I know that there are parts of the west coast with very few au pairs, but Seattle is not one of them!
As a last question I would like to ask you if you would recommend the au pair year?
Yes, definitely! It´s such an amazing experience! You grow personally, you learn so much about yourself and others and it is a great way to become more independent.
When you think about it- 1 year in your life really isn’t very much. So if this is something you think of doing, I would really recommend it!
If you want to be an Au Pair- check out my newly published book here!