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Au Pair of the Year talks Home Sickness

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Au Pair of the Year, Gavin McKay talks to Gap 360 about homesickness and how he coped being far from home.

Q: What helped you make the decision to commit to being away for a whole year? Did you everconsider not doing the programme because of the duration and feeling homesick?

A: When I was offered the years placement with my family, they seemed like a great match and skyping with them during the matching process made the whole process seem a lot more real. I was talking directly to a family and being informed of what my daily life would be like and my work schedule.  I met the host child and everything felt like a great match so that helped to commit for a year because they seemed like a great family and I was just excited to get over and start work that a year didn’t seem to me like a long time to be away.

In the early process of applying I was unsure of how I would cope with homesickness and being away for a year but I decided that if it didn’t work out I always had the option of coming home. From they first day that I arrived in New York the agency were so supportive and were excellent at making sure you adjust perfectly to life in America and eased us into our now lifestyles that for me I didn’t really find homesickness an issue at all. I also found that once I started working that my first year just went by so quickly, it seemed to go too fast. I’m on my second year now and it feels like yesterday that I arrived at orientation week in New York.

Q: Can you explain why staying for any less than 6 months just wouldn’t be long enough?

A: What I found personally is that it took me a few months to get fully adjusted into the lifestyle and swing of being in America, from getting used to the area that you live in and making friends and getting settled with the family. Six months really isn’t enough time. I found that a year didn’t even feel long enough for me, I’m now on my second year.

Q: If you felt homesick, and at what point did you first feel that way

A: When you first arrive to your host family you will spend your first few days mainly with the family, learning how to drive and getting comfortable with the kids. During this first few days you won’t have a chance to meet people so you feel a little homesick but it’s only temporary and once you have your first cluster meeting you get over it because you make lots of friends at the cluster meetings.

Q: How you dealt with the homesickness

A: When I first arrived all I wanted to do was sit in my room and Skype my friends and family. This isn’t a great idea and I found the best thing to do was to start contacting friends from my cluster so I had people to spend time with and explore the city with and once I made some good friends homesickness was never an issue.

Q: At what point you felt like you’d really settled into life in the US

A: Probably between the second and third month. You start to learn the layout of the the city and how to get to everywhere by car or bus. You start to make good friends and explore with them.

You get really settled with the family and by this time you have a great relationship with the children.

Once you start to get a routine then you feel really settled.

Q: What advice you would give to anyone who was feeling a bit homesick or worried about getting homesick

A: From my experience I found the best advice is to meet up with your fellow Au pairs because they are all feeling the same things because they are in the exact same position as you and because of that you will bond with them much easier!

I used a website called meetup.com. Basically they arrange meet up groups in the cities and the groups can be for any activity. I play a lot of soccer so I join lots of sports groups and I met a lot of cool people through them and also a lot of the people in the meet up groups are new to the city as well so you can meet a lot of really interesting people there as well.

Everyone will get homesickness when they move away but as long as you are pro active and try and get out and explore and meet people (which is a big part of why we do this.) instead of staying in your room and trying to contact home all day, you will be fine. It isn’t a big issue as long as you make the effort to get out and explore.
I would say it’s natural to worry about it but it won’t be a big problem once you get there. It’s such a great experience that you’ll love and learn lots from and you’ll be so glad that you decided to do it, you meet so many awesome people from all over the world.  It’s fantastic.

If you want to become an Au Pair contact Georgia Wilson: georgia.wilson@gap360.com

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