I have gone to the USA because I wanted to improve my language, travel, find new friends and, of course, experience American family life from the inside. I expected this experience to be very different from any experiences I've ever had before; and I truly was right about it!!!!! I love every single part of it, even some negative moments I've had can't make me look at it in a different way! It's probably because I was lucky to get the best host family ever! I've stayed with them for two years and would stay even longer if I could...but my visa is only valid for two years.
In Russia, I live in a big Siberian city called Barnaul. It’s the capital of the Altai Region. The city is very beautiful. It stands on the left bank of the great Siberian River Ob and boards on a magical pine forest. I have a big family. We love spending time together – sharing news, laughing, taking care of each other. We enjoy discovering new things and meeting new people. I have a good driving experience. I have been driving in my country and in the United States. After I began driving in the United States I can’t imagine my life without a car. I use it every day for myself and for work. I have childcare experience with newborns, infants, toddlers, and older children up to twelve years old.
As an au-pair, I’m taking care of five children, including an infant. They are twelve, ten, eight, two and a half, and eleven months old. I’ve been working with them for more than one year, and taking care of the baby since his first day! I really like my current host family and got very attached to the boys, so I decided to extend my program with them. I feel that kids got attached to me too. It’s a big advantage for a caregiver to live inside the family you’re working with. This way children accept you as a part of their family; a person who lives by their side every day. You become a big part of their lives and it’s very good for emotional attachment and trust. Children even learn easier and faster because you really get to know their personalities and talents. I think that I’m a lucky person because I got to experience this kind of relationship! I can even say that I have two families now – in Russia and in America.
I didn't have a lot of time to prepare myself, I was too busy passing final exams and doing my final project for the term. I was a third year architecture student, besides I was working as an aide in the YMCA Early Childhood Development Center, plus I had to get all the papers ready for my visa... But all my hard work has payed off because I was able to find a host family within three days - they contacted me and we started to talk on Skype almost every day until my arrival to their house. The flight to my host family was a very exciting experience for me because I'd never flown before in my life....But it was difficult, too, because I was almost fifteen hours in the air...I was very tired when I arrived to the airport in Newark, my final destination.
My host family welcomed me to their house with kids performances and a big welcome banner they made for me. It was very nice. I started working the next day, my host mom explained me everything in the house, showed me around. They didn't have any strict schedule for me, I was always free to do with kids what I think is good for them. They did have a list of things that had to be done every day, such as laundry, folding of clothes and putting them away, cleaning kids' bedrooms and a bathroom, vacuuming, wiping counters, and doing dishes, but they can be done whenever I have time. Usually it only takes two hours in the morning to finish this chores, so I have the rest of the day to spend time with kids and not worry about anything else.
I usually make the lunch for my kids, then the older boys go to school, and I stay with the little ones. My babies usually take a nap in the afternoon, we do artworks, go to parks, invite their friends for a play date. I prepare their lunch, give snacks, make sure that they are safe and clean. I also have to change their diapers. When the baby was little, I was giving him the bottle a couple of times a day, now he is self-feeding, so I don't have to do that. I'm trying to incorporate a lot of educational activities into our daily routines, so kids develop properly. But in general I want them to be happy and have fun with everything we do together.
In my free time I like to do sculpture and painting. I’m especially good at modeling of paper and clay. I'm a very artistic and creative person, so art is my life. I've done a lot of portraits for my host family and they really appreciate it. My host mom shows them to every single person who comes to her house. I can say that I became much more confident about my art than I was before thanks to her support. I'm a very sociable and open person, so I have a lot of friends from all over the world. We like to spend free time together, share our experiences and culture.
When I had my twenty-first birthday, my friends were singing “Happy Birthday To You” in ten different languages...it is probably one of the most amazing moments I've had in my life...I was almost crying. I'm also very athletic. You have to be athletic in America because you can loose shape very quickly if you don't exercise. I usually run six miles every day, or, if the weather is bad, go to the gym. It helps me to feel good about myself, become more confident. I love swimming, hiking, and, in future, I really want to try skydiving because my dad used to jump with a parachute a lot when he was young!!!!
With my host family I went to the Caribbean Islands and to Mexico. I'm very grateful to them for taking me with them. It was truly unforgettable. I was taking care of the kids, but at the same time it wasn't like real work, but more like a vacation to me. I was especially excited to see Maya Pyramids. I've never even dreamed about an opportunity to see them, it was more like a fairytale to me....but it was real.
I got to improve my language a lot even though I didn't take any special classes, I was just trying to interact with people as much as I could, even if I wasn't sure if I can express myself as I wanted to. Now it is as natural for me to speak English as it is to speak Russian. Sometimes I even think in English! When I just got to America I could barely express myself because I was forgetting the words, and now it's not ang thing that has ity to look at things with different eyes and made me a better person!!!!
This is an outline of my au pair experience. I can say for sure that it is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life. It made me independent, made me grow up a lot, gave an opportunity to look at things with different eyes and made me a better person!!!!