Gaetan, Julia, Sandra and Magda currently enjoy living and working as au pairs in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Au pairs find much in common with one another, but these four friends share a unique experience: all four have been in the United States before as au pairs and have returned to enjoy the au pair program a second time!
Along with hundreds of other returning au pairs across the country, these four friends considered the au pair program to be so beneficial to them the first time, they decided to do it again. Reasons for returning vary. Gaetan enjoyed living with a host family and meeting people from around the world. Sandra, who returned to her original host family, believed another stint would further improve her English. For Magda, California became her second home and a place she loved to be. 'I wanted to do all the things I didn't do during my first two years.' Julia seconded Magda's strong affections for California feeling like home.
All four au pairs were productive between stints; Julia worked in Canada on a work-study program, Gaetan traveled throughout Chile and worked as a real estate agent in France, Sandra enjoyed her role as a restaurant manager and Magda earned a Masters in Public Administration. All felt they were able to effortlessly slip right back into American life. Unlike the three women who all lived in the Bay Area before, Gaetan spent his first two years in Washington, DC. He experienced some culture shock arriving in California, quickly observing the differences between the two coasts. 'The weather is obviously much better in California than on the East Coast. It is sunny all the time; I appreciate that.' He also noted that he found people in California to be open-minded, from diverse backgrounds and very smart.
Sandra and Magda both returned to their previous host families. Sandra relayed, 'For me, the only difference when I returned was that the children were older and at different stages in their development. I already felt like I was part of the family.' Magda's feelings were similar, as she felt like she slipped right back into her American life by meshing seamlessly with her familiar host family and friends that were awaiting her return with open arms.
Conversely, the returning au pair program is beneficial to host families, allowing them to have the same beloved au pair for up to four years. Sandra's host mom, Vera, said, 'It has been really great for the children, since they bonded with Sandra at a young age and have that bond again. The familiarity was really helpful and it's great to see Sandra mature through the years and to watch her growth.'
Wendie Karel, local Area Director for AuPairCare, enjoys welcoming back returning au pairs. 'Reconnecting with returning au pairs is really the icing on the cake when it comes to the au pair program. It is so much fun to hear their perspective on what brought them back a second time. It also feels great to hear how the au pair program was so enjoyable and empowering the first time that they chose to do it again.'
What does the future hold for these au pairs? Sandra's recent certification in wedding planning will allow her to start her own wedding planning business in the Czech Republic. She also is prepping for the TEFL test which, upon passing, will allow her to teach English anywhere in the world. Gaetan will travel through South America before settling down in France where he hopes to start his own real estate business. Julia earned a certificate in Sports Nutrition and is now working towards becoming a personal trainer. 'Since the au pair program requires me to get six educational credits per year, I used that opportunity to determine what I want to do in life and it threw me in the right direction.'Magda plans to use her training in HR management at SFSU to work in Human Resources, but also plans to use her high level of English proficiency to become an interpreter.
It's safe to say that the au pair program changes lives!