From The Hills to The City- My Move to the Big Apple
While I am still in touch with my host family today and loved living with them in California, times weren’t always bright during my au pair stay. I do not want to go into further details about what exactly happened due to privacy reasons, but there was a time where my family and I decided it would be best for everybody if I transitioned to a different family. This happened in June 2009, a time where I thought things had passed for the better, but unfortunately, I was wrong.
Life isn’t always rainbows and sprinkles, I am sure we all know that. My host family and I went through a hard time together, but we made it through and I was debating of extending my stay with the family for another nine months after my one year USA anniversary in August 2009. We discussed it together, and in the end, I was the one who had to move on.
It was hard to accept the thought that I would not be the one anymore driving the kids to school, or watching the baby, who could finally walk, develop into a big girl, or just living with the family any longer. Since I was very upset about the events, I decided not to stay with the family until August but rather transition to a new situation sooner than later.
As soon as I informed my host family and my au pair agency about it, I deeply regretted this step. Not just because I loved this family so much, but also because of how poorly the au pair agency treated me during the transition process. There was no understanding of my side, all I got from them was pressure to find a new family in two weeks, otherwise I would have to leave the country and move back to Germany. I never forget this one particular time when the agency called me and asked me why I had rejected the families that had contacted me to become their au pair in the couple of days before this call. I explained to the lady on the phone that one of the families talked poorly about their current au pair and seemed really harsh, and I did not intend to live with someone like that for another year. One other family was living in the middle of nowhere, something I also didn’t want to do. Instead of understanding, all I received from the agency’s side were tough words that I would better find a new family soon and not be “too picky.”
While the lady of the au pair agency was talking to me, I was crying and just thought to myself that I have to be picky since I am the one who is here alone with no family, therefore I want to find someone who I have a good feeling for. The last words this wonderful person told me on the phone were “too dry off my tears and better look happy when you leave this phone call and go back to take care of the kids.” That was the tip of the iceberg. I was devastated already, and then to receive even more pressure from someone, who is supposed to help me, pushed me totally over the edge. I lost all belief in my au pair agency, thinking they only care about the families since they were the paying customers, and that us au pairs were only the merchandise. I still get a little upset and angry about it just writing this, because I don’t feel that I was being treated fairly or supported at all.
After the call, I tried to get my act back together, but it was hard to pretend everything was OK in front of the kids when everything I wanted to do was just cry. One or two days after that incident, a family contacted me with three boys who lived in Brooklyn, New York. Once the mom told me where they resided, I got a little excited. Living really close to the big apple sounded pretty appealing and fun to me. At the same time, I started emailing with a family in Connecticut, who also had two children, one of them being a little baby girl. This family sounded like a really great fit, the mom was a professor at Yale University but currently a stay-at-home mom, who would help me with taking care of the little one. On the other hand, I really got hooked on the thought of moving to and living in New York City. I thought back and forth of what to do, knowing now that I would be moving to the East Coast, just not sure exactly where to.
If I lived in Connecticut, I would still be able to go and visit New York for a weekend to explore the city. I also could attend a class at Yale, which would be a great experience. On the other hand, if I lived in NYC, I could see the ball drop at Times Square on New Year’s Eve, I could hang out in Central Park on the weekends, and I could probably go and see a couple of plays on Broadway. In the end, I decided to move to Brooklyn. I didn’t know by that time that this would be another decision I would deeply regret soon, but at that moment, all I could think of was “The City” and all it had to offer. I was being matched with the family, and I was beyond relief that the transition process was finally over and I didn’t have to deal with the agency anymore.
I had another five days left in California that I would enjoy with my friends and host family and I wanted to make the most out of it before it was time to say goodbye CA, hello NY!
To be continued…
(Next Wednesday: Read about Kathrin’s time in New York)
Disclaimer: Names in the story have been changed to protect people’s privacy
Anne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She lives in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.