Homesick - What can I do?

Question of the week (4 April 2011). Host mother Liz from England worries about her au pair from France: Adrienne has recently been retreating into her shell. After enquiring Liz found out that she is homesick. What can she do?

Dear  AuPairWorld Team,

Our au pair Adrienne from France has been with us for a couple of weeks now. Everything was going well so far. However, since last week, she has been retreating into her shell. I tried to ask her about the reason. She said she was homesick. She does not know how to cope with it, thus feeling guilty towards me. Otherwise, I am quite happy with her. But now I am afraid to lose her. What can I do?

Host mother Liz from England

The Support Team's Reply

Dear Liz,

Your au pair's homesickness does not necessarily mean that she rejects you and your family or your country. Putting yourself in your au pair's position can sometimes be helpful: go back to your own school days, your first vacation at a holiday camp. Do you still remember how you felt in these moments when you were all alone? In this context it did not matter how many  friendly persons were around you. Simply, because you sadly miss everything familiar and personal.

An au pair is a young person, who wishes to explore new things: a new culture, country, family, new friends and a new language. However, sometimes he/she is overwhelmed by homesickness.

If your au pair feels homesick, you may want to:

  • Integrate your au pair into your family life further. Treat her/him as your temporary elder daughter or son.
  • Show interest to your au pair and his/her problems. Try to talk about it and ask how he/she feels and if you can help.
  • Sometimes it works wonders to find distraction in getting to know new surroundings: Show your local area to your au pair and help her/him to find a language course.
  • Give the possibility to your au pair to comunicate with friends and family in her/his home country via Internet, Skype or mobile phone.
  • Encourage your au pair to discover your community, to pursue his/her hobbies and to meet new people.

You have already considered some of the above mentioned points, which is great. We shall keep our fingers crossed for you and your au pair, hoping that our tips will be helpful and that you will have a great time together.

Best wishes,

Your AuPairWorld Support Team

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