My Time as A German Au Pair
After college and an excruciating experience student teaching, I knew that I did not want to start a career right away. AT ALL. There was too much to do and to see. After going to Uganda before college and Germany during college, I’d developed a hunger to travel any and everywhere and to experience a different culture and language first-hand.
I decided to be an Au Pair, or a nanny, to a German family in northern Germany. My main goal was to get better at German, see a lot of interesting things and meet a lot of interesting people. It was so exciting waiting in the airport to board my plane; I’ll never forget how hard I tried to keep down my smile. It was one moment in my life when I really knew I was doing the right thing for me.
I boarded the plane and went off to have a three month learning experience. First of all, Germany is absolutely beautiful. I love everything about it: the sights, the food, the language, the European way of thinking. I dove straight into it and have never regretted it since.
Unfortunately, my host family did not turn out as I had hoped. There were three children and the oldest two were boys. They did not care for me and would not listen to me when I would tell them to do something. It was very frustrating because I believe the parents expected me to be in control and to want to spend time with them, but I actually didn’t feel very welcome in their house. I remember a lot of nights crying in my bed because I didn’t know what to do. And my host parents were very….closed off, I guess you could say. I’ve been told it’s a typical German thing, but they never really asked about my life or sympathized with me when I was upset about being in a new place and having a hard time working with their children. It was a difficult position to be in.
But, we did speak GERMAN. We spoke German all day and every day. I spoke German with the grandmother down to the 3 year old daughter. I got yelled at in German, snubbed in German, been on a date in German, and went to school for German. It was a wonderful experience. I saw things from another part of the world. I described the world and my life in another language. I thought in German. I loved to see how people in a different culture would describe things, react to things, or deal with situations. I would be tired every night because my brain was working overtime taking everything in and translating every conversation for the entire day.
In the German class I attended, there were people from all over the world: Syria, Iraq, Africa, Los Angeles, Russia, Afghanistan, Mexico, and Venezuela. It was amazing because we all had different backgrounds and different experiences, but we each could speak German, and that was what we had in common. When I was with my friends, I had so much fun. We shared our rough au pair experiences and went out on the town. My Russian friend and I spent a few days in Berlin as well and went on tours, ate Bratwurst, and drank Masskrugs. When it came time to go, I was ready to leave because I missed my friends terribly from home, and I was tired of dealing with my host family. But, I was sad to leave my newfound friends, my school, my memories, and the fact that I could go into a café alone and order in German.
It was the best choice I ever made to go and live in another country for a time. I will never regret it, even though there were some things I wished were different. I still keep in contact with my German friends, and I keep practicing my German as much as I can. I hope to go back someday, but I also hope my experiences don’t stop there. Traveling and seeing new cultures and places and speaking new languages is the best medicine for any jaded soul. One is not meant to stay in one place and know only one perspective anymore. I’m ready to go see the world.