A year abroad

As you all might know by now all 4 of us, went abroad at some point. Katie was the very first of us who went to Canada for 8 months as an exchange student. After she finished her A-levels she then went to London to become an Au-Pair and finally decided to go to University in Scotland. But Lili, Alina and I decided to go to England as well. One year after Katie we all went to England to become an Au-Pair as well.

So, after I set that straight I want to tell you a bit of my experience of living abroad.

When I was in 8th grade (so 6 years before I actually went to England) I said to myself that I want to go to an English speaking country after I finished my A-Levels. During these years I switched around the countries where I want to go to and also what I want to do. After wanting to ‘just work’ in America, to being an Au-Pair in Canada, doing work and travel in Australia and New Zealand to finally becoming an Au-Pair in England. You see, I really couldn’t decide on what I wanted to do. Well, there is one reason why I couldn’t, I never was sure what I want to do with my life after I graduated. Eventually I could pin down that ‘just go to America and see if I can find a job’ isn’t really working and also that working on farms in Australia isn’t really my thing. I also decided on going to England because I was too scared to go to North America or Australia/New Zealand because I was too scared to get homesick. But looking back I think it was a good thing for me to switch around all the possibilities I had, this way I knew that I totally wanted to go to England.

Once I finally decided what I wanted to do, I did my research on how I could become an Au-Pair. I looked up different agencies and also if I’d rather should go on my own. I applied at an agency but soon I realized things weren’t really working out as I wanted them, so I set up my own account on a website and did it the way I wanted it to be. Sure, doing it on your own is more dangerous because if things aren’t working out with your hostfamily there is no guarantee to get another family or you have nobody you can talk to if something is wrong. But for me it worked completely fine this way. My family had plenty of Au-Pairs before me so they knew what to do and how to handle things. Also if I had problems I always could just talk to my hostmum which I think is really important because only this way you will survive this year without wanting to quit.

I was lucky enough to find a very lovely family and the adventure could start. With going to another country a lot of things are coming along which you wouldn’t first think of. I had to make sure I’m insured, what’s going to happen with my phone contract and how the hell are you booking a flight on your own. Thanks to google and my mum I even could handle these kind of things.

Once it’s the week before you go, you realize that it’s harder to say goodbye to all your friends and family then you thought but luckily you also think of the good times that are ahead of you and this makes you be able to go through all of the crying. But honestly, saying goodbye to my family and my best friend was probably the only time I was thinking if I really want to do this. But I’m glad I didn’t chicken out, even though the night before my flight was probably the worst sleep I have ever had (and yes this included hours of crying again). You then realize how much the people around you mean to you. And thanks to modern technology and cheap airlines, they make a life abroad so much easier (obvious tip: regular skype-dates with your family and friends help a lot to maintain the friendship and keeps you updated on the newest scandal in your family).

Once I was in the plane I realized that I absolutely knew nobody in England and I was totally on my own now. But don’t worry. You go to a place where most certainly are more Au-Pairs around then just you, so everybody is in the same position as you are. You soon find amazing friends with whom you bond faster then you ever thought you can bond with a person. I highly recommend to take classes at you local college, because this way you firstly learn the language even better (and you also get a certificate) but you also make friends once again. I soon realized that all my worries were unnecessary. I mean in my time in England I even met 3 of the most amazing girls I could ever think of and see where this lead us: doing a blog with 3 of my best friends.

But beside of meeting amazing friends, you’ve got the chance to learn a new language, a new culture and also travel around the country. I personally used all my free time (and my money) to travel around the UK and honestly I wish I had more time to go to places all around the UK. And yes, the first month was absolutely the hardest one. Once you landed you have the feeling you never had English in your life because people speak so much faster, they mumble a lot (well, the British do that soooo badly) and they use words in general in a normal manner you have never heard of but you also don’t want them to ask to repeat every sentence over again so you really understand what they want to say to you. So politely smile and nod will become your best friend :). But once you’re over that you won’t even think about these kind of things and even start to develop the same habits.

I know at first the idea to go to another country, living on your own is very scary but once you really thought about it it’s an amazing opportunity for young people to explore a country and culture before the seriousness of life starts.

I personally can only advise everybody to go and experience something like this. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to go to for 1 month or 3 years, thought about it for 6 years or 1 month, if you go as an Au-Pair, as work and travel, as an exchange student, work there or even do an internship. During this time you will learn extremely much for your life and I can tell you from my and from so many others experiences: just do it!

Lots of love,

Jenny x.


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