Working My Way Back to the United States
My au pair time was officially over. The realization hit me every day I was living back in Germany. Even though I had started a new job as a kindergarten teacher that kept me pretty busy, I found myself reminiscing at least once a day about my life in California. I missed it so much!
I felt bad about it because I was finally close to my best friends and family again, but then again my au pair stay had changed me and my life forever. I had fallen in love with traveling the world, and even though I hadn’t been really good with settling in other places before my cultural exchange, my desire to leave Europe and immigrate somewhere far away grew ever bigger after my U.S. stay. I am not the only person that felt like that; many of my au pair friends experienced this kind of travel fever. Some of them eventually became flight attendants for long distance flights, just to get out of Germany every so often. Even I applied for a position as a flight attendant once while being back in Europe.
It happened in late 2010 when I had worked for more than a year in the kindergarten institution where I had been responsible for taking care of children between the ages of 7 months and 6 years. Even though no one day was the same at work, I felt like I needed a break from my routine. I was so very hungry for traveling on a consistent basis, specifically long distance, but it was just too costly to do so only for leisure. Therefore, I looked up long distance flight attendant positions one night and found an opening for a well-known German airline. With no hesitations, I instantly applied, hoping to hear back from the company anytime soon. My prayers were heard; I received an email with an invitation to a telephone interview. I was beyond thrilled, imagining myself being up in the clouds already. But, as life usually goes, all came different.
One night in December 2010, my dad approached me. In general this wasn’t really surprising since he usually liked to lecture me every once in a while about my life and the choices I made, but this time it was different. I had been living with my parents since I had moved back from the United States due to the fact that I was unsure of where my future would take me. So until I had figured that out I could stay with them. On this particular night then, my father came all the way up to my room, mentioning he wanted to talk to me. All I thought at that moment was ‘Oh great, not another lecture I don’t want to hear at the moment.’ But he actually was about to nail it this time. Without hesitation, he told me that he had noticed my being so unhappy for most of the time, and he wanted to know why. So I told him straight to his face that I hated being back and I didn’t feel at home in Europe anymore! I know those were harsh words that I threw at my father’s face, but I had been frustrated for a while with living back in Germany, with no clue how I could make my way back to the U.S..
To my surprise, my dad was very understanding, and we had a really good conversation. I told him that I knew that one of the ways of going back to the United States was to attend college there, which I had thought of for a while since I wasn’t very happy in my profession as a kindergarten teacher. My father told me that if that was what I really wanted, he would help me make my dream a reality. But he had one condition: I had to find a college major that would guarantee me a good career. I cannot describe how relieved I was, first about having opened up to my dad and second of course about his response. I instantly started researching schools in the Orange County area, specifically around Huntington Beach since I had been there on vacation in 2010 and had fallen in love with the laid-back lifestyle.
I eventually found a college in Fountain Valley that I liked. Over the next couple of days I gathered the paperwork together that I needed for the application and started filling it out. I was super anxious when I did that because I was afraid that one piece of the wrong information would mess up all my chances of getting into college in the United States. But luckily, my story had a happy ending. In April 2011, when I was in Huntington Beach on vacation, I stopped by the college to ask them about my application process. When the lady at the counter told me that I had been accepted to start attending school in the fall of 2011, I was beyond happy. I was finally about to work my way back to the U.S., and this time, hopefully, without ever having to leave again…
To be continued…
(Next Wednesday: Read about Kathrin’s “living her dream” since being back in California)
Disclaimer: Names in the story may 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.