A lot of future Au Pairs wonder what Orientation is going to be like so here’s how mine went:
Au Pair in America sent us to Connecticut which is around two hours from New York City.
I flew into JFK, and after a short wait, I was met at the baggage claim by an Au Pair America representative. We then waited at another terminal for a couple of German girls and finally walked onto the bus waiting outside of the airport. After we arrived at the hotel we had a short meeting, grabbed some dinner and headed up to our rooms. I was bunking with two other girls, one from Germany and the other from Romania. By then I was so tired I fell into bed and was immediately out for the count.
The next morning I introduced myself to my roomies, and we went down to breakfast. Here it was obvious that cliques had already been formed. I was one of only three girls who had english as a first language, and it kind of felt a bit like the first day of high school all over again. It was with some relief that I met an English girl, and we stuck together for the rest of Orientation. Even though the girls were encouraged to start speaking English, no one really did, and the girls from various countries pretty much just stuck together.
We got cracking immediately with a lecture straight after breakfast. The purpose of orientation is to make sure Au Pairs are ready for their families, and I felt that a lot of the stuff was obvious i.e “never shake a baby” and “don’t sleep with your host dad”.
Some of it was useful, but most of what was covered was already on the website, in the information from when we applied, or even in the book that we were given when we left. I understand that some people learn better when they have things explained directly to them, but it sure made the day drag on. We had to do a first aid course which I thought was weird since we all had to be certified to even get into the program but I guess it’s part of the visa regulations.
To be honest I was so jet-lagged and tired that most of orientation was a blur. The food was really bad, but we did get a few hours to ourselves after lectures had finished for the day.
One thing I remmber very clearly was on the second to last day when I found out why most of the Au Pairs were here. “Be honest,” said the lady taking our group, “who is here to find a husband and stay?” Half the group giggled nervously and raised their hands. No joke.
On the last night we did a night tour of New York city. Everyone has the option to do this, and I was one of the lucky ones cause my host parents paid for me. I think it was supposed to cost around $25. It’s definitely worth doing if you’ve never been to New York before, and I had but still had a great time. They let you off the bus to explore places like Times Square so it’s well worth doing, especially if you’re not going to be living on the East Coast.
On the last day we waited excitedly to meet our host parents. Those who lived in the area were picked up by the families (or in some cases the driver), and the rest of us were dropped at the airport for our flights. The cars were all really late so everyone was stressed out and hoping they’d get their planes. I was with a few other girls who were flying out of JFK and our driver dropped us at the wrong terminal so we had to catch another shuttle. After a frantic rush at the airport where I tried to explain the check in process to girls who had very little English, we all made our planes and were on the way to meet our families.
No one really likes Orientation, but it’s just one of those things you have to do. My advice is to try and talk to as many people as you can, and try to get on with your roommates. Definitely do the New York tour, and there’s also a huge mall which is a short walk from the hotel in Connecticut if you get some spare time.