Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A new year is coming!

Don’t let the stress get to you - make sure you have a PLAN.

Celebrating the New Year often means a great time; you start to look for that perfect dress, find a date for That night, you go to the gym an extra time, and let’s not forget all the lists we make.

 I feel like my list writing-skills have not been more perfect then after all the Christmas gifts lists, food shopping and To-Do lists before the holidays. The lists just keep coming. And then we have the final list, The New Year’s list, the big commitment for the upcoming year.

It is amazing that you now have 365 new days to complete or do something.  Yet, I find myself always stressing at the last days to do them. Last year I had a goal of learning how to do a handstand, not that hard to accomplish but still, I was trying really hard the very last day, New Year’s Eve.
I know that many of you have finished school this past June and maybe worked to save some hard-earned money. So, time to spend the.  I would strongly recommend you to go as an au pair in the beginning of the year. Why? 



Top 5 reasons for early birds:

1.       Could there be any colder and darker place than the Nordic countries during winter? No! If that is not good enough of a reason to go in the beginning of the year, please keep reading to point nr 2.
2.       Your friends are just recovering from a Christmas/New Years of eating/drinking too much and what do they all do, sign up for the local gym and start the tough road ahead until light comes back. Yes, depressing, I know, keep reading to 3.
3.       The summer is known to be the most intense time for au pairs, you often have the children all day when they are out of school. It can therefore be great to bond with them before that time is coming. If you go in the beginning of the year, you have more time to bond with the family and children.
4.       As an au pair you have the chance to see what an American college is like. If you arrive early you get more options when it comes to picking classes and finding the best schools.
5.       Last but not least, there are less au pairs that are able to travel in Jan, Feb, March (due to being in high school) so you have more families to match with and that will make you stand out in the matching pool.

I hope this list makes your choice easier, after all, that is why we are making these lists, right?


Very best and happy holiday!

/Amanda

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My time as an Au Pair!

Take the chance and GO! Being an Au Pair is an amazing experience and a memory for life!

Hi everyone!

My name is Mathilda and I started working at the Cultural Care Au Pair office  a few months  ago. I am so excited to work here and be able to help people fulfill their dreams of becoming Au pairs and begin their big and wonderful adventure. A dream I had myself for many years.

Ever since I was twelve years old I dreamed of going as an Au pair. I love children, always wanted to travel to the US and at the same time improve my English. When I graduated from High School I could finally pack my bags and fly over the Atlantic Ocean to fulfill my dream. Albany, a city 2 ½ hours north of New York City became my home where I took care of four wonderful children. Three girls and one boy between the ages of 1- 6 years old.

They say time flies when you´re having fun and it sure does. I had so much fun that I decided to extend for a second year. Between 2008 – 2010 I got to experience the American culture up close, celebrate all their holidays, make friends from all over the world and travel around the fantastic country. And when I left I knew that I will always have a second family and a second home in the US.
I truly believe that traveling teaches you things about life and about yourself that you wouldn´t know otherwise. Without those two years I wouldn´t be the same person that I am today.

My biggest advice if you´re thinking of becoming an Au pair is: Take the chance and GO! It is an amazing experience and a memory for life.

I would be more than happy to assist you in any thoughts or questions you may have about being an Au Pair. We are here for you so don´t hesitate to contact us.                                                                                                                    
Happy Holidays!


Best,
Mathilda 


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Teamwork

Teamwork is important, not only at our workplaces but also in situations with our friends, family and at our soccer practice. The question though is of course, what is teamwork- do we all believe that it is the same thing? I asked my colleagues here at the Stockholm office what they have to say about teamwork, what it means to them, and this is what they said:

“Respect towards each other. Willingness to motivate and help others.” – Malin

“There is no “I” in team.” – Oscar

“That we all work towards our common goal! Also that we understand each other and remember, no-one is perfectJ” – Anni

“We work for us and our goal, we are not trying to be best friends J” – Susanna

“Team work opens up for interaction and exchange of ideas among a group of people.”- Nathalie

“Team work for me is when everyone in the group contributes with their unique piece of the puzzle, in order to achieve something great!” – Emilia

“See each individual in the team and with all strengths combined work together as a group.” – Johanna

“Team work is to help each other and motivate the team to create great work and reach our goals. “- Mathilda

“Teamwork is for me when everyone inspires and helps each other to reach the same goal.” – Sandra

“Teamwork for me is when we work towards the same goal, help, support and encourages each other and where we all feel involved and part of the team.” – Tina




I believe that we all at least have the same idea what great teamwork is. I learned, during my time as an au pair that this is so important. To be able to work well with your host family to be able to give the best care for their children. We all have different ways to achieve this, find your own way together with your own host family.

Have a great week and take care of each other!


/Jenny

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving is here!

One of my favorite holidays in the US is Thanksgiving. It´s such a nice day filled with quality time with the family and lots of good food. No pressure, just spending time with each other.

The morning started with watching “Macy´s Thanksgiving parade” from New York City on TV. The turkey got stuffed in the morning before spending many hours in the oven. But it was so worth the wait. The turkey was front and center on the dining room table together with mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. If you were not full after this there was pumpkin pie, apple pie and cheesecake for dessert.

On my first Thanksgiving in the US we had paper leaves where we wrote what we were thankful for. I got teary eyed when my host mom wrote that she was thankful for ”having such a caring, loving new member of their family”.


It is truly a great day to eat great food, spend time with loved ones and be thankful.

Thanksgiving is coming up and maybe I should roll up my sleeves and make a Thanksgiving feast.

Hope you will all have a great weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

/Mathilda

Giving thanks


Thanksgiving is definitely about family and feast, but during the Thanksgiving holiday week, Americans also like to share what they are thankful for. We asked some of our program participants what they were thankful for as well!


We are so thankful for our Finnish au pair Jonna. She has been with our family for a month now and everyone is totally in love. Jonna is smiling, responsible, flexible, patient and sweet; but the biggest reason our kids love her is that she is a grown-up who really PLAYS with them! Jonna assumes the role of a bear or a fairy and really throws herself into whichever game they play. We could not have asked for a more perfect au pair for our energetic toddlers!
—The Jensen family of Arkansas



I'm very thankful for my host family—and I love them! If you look closely at the background of this photo, you can see the flag of my home country (Colombia) in the front of my family’s house. That's because since I came here my host family have done everything, the littlest details, to make me feel at home, welcomed and comfortable.
—Daniela Franco Penagos, au pair from Colombia

In February 2015, the Dias family opened their hearts and their home to me. I am thankful for all the support that they give me and always making sure that I have what I need, if not more. I am thankful that they will always go the extra mile. The support and trust my host parents give me when I am taking care of the girls is one of the things I am most thankful for. I am truly blessed to feel and to be part of the Dias family. Thank you to them for asking me to stay 12 more months!
—Schizelle Van Wyk, au pair from South Africa



We are thankful for our LCC Amy because she is always worrying about us, trying to help us in whatever we need. She always tries to make the best plans so we have fun during our au pair meetings and she always has time to resolve our concerns and doubts! For that reason the au pairs of Tennessee are thankful with her!

—LCC Amy Donovan’s au pairs in Tennessee


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Au pair and host family reunion

The Sousa family reunited with their former au pair Sabina Kwater from Poland earlier this month. She was the family’s au pair back in 2005-6, and this was actually her fourth visit to reunite with them!  Sabina was on a vacation in the U.S. —in NY for a few days and then to Boston to stay with her host family.  She visited old friends, explored her favorite Boston places, went back to her Polish church, and mostly just hung out with her former host parents and kids. Before she left, Sabina told her family, “I just feel so at home here.” Host mom Lisa shared, "The kids all loved seeing her and she was sweet and loving with all three.  Sabina was with us when all were babies so they all think of her as their ‘first' au pair." 




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween is almost here

Halloween hits us from nowhere every year and it seems like the fall is passing by so fast.

In the US it was easy to celebrate Halloween, because everyone did it. All friends and family dressed up, decorated their houses and prepared food and last but not least bought candy for the trick or treating in the neighborhoods.



I took my host children to buy pumpkins that we later carved and put on the porch. Except from decorating the inside walls with spider nets we put witches and axes and other scary things outside, both on the porch and in the gardens. Of course it was me, not the host children that was most scared one. 

Back home in Sweden it feels that we are slowly getting closer and closer to the fact that we like Halloween. This year I will be going to one Halloween party, of course with dress code- costume (this is in less than a week and I still do not have a costume). I will also have my little brother visiting from southern Sweden, and I will do my very best to make Halloween special to him, with both candy and costumes. I will also try do make my own pumpkin pie for the first time. This will be the ingredients Ill use. If you have better suggestions, feel free to share!

Crust
100g Butter
3 dl Flour
2 msk Sugar
1 tsk Vanilla sugar
½ tsk Baking powder
½ dl Water
Filling
5 dl Pumpkin puré
2 dl Milk
1 dl Sugar
4 msk Potato flour
1 tsk Vanilla sugar
1 tsk Cinnamon
½ tsk Ginger
½ tsk Gillyflower
¼ tsk Nutmeg
¼ tsk Allspice

Happy baking and happy Halloween!

/Jenny

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ska jag stanna eller gå?


 Jag har efter flera års arbetserfarenhet kommit fram till att det är en trygghet som gör att vi stannar i vissa situationer, som vi från början inte såg oss själva vara i. Det är också en oro för trygghet som gör att vi vill finna svar på hur omgivningen ser ut någon annanstans.

Oavsett i vilken situation i livet man befinner sig i, tror jag att man alltid kommer vara orolig för hur framtiden kommer att vara, vad man ska göra och inte göra.


När jag känner denna känsla brukar jag visualisera mitt liv som en film. Om någon satt brevid dig i soffan och sa vad som skulle hända 30 sec innan det faktiskt skett, skulle du då njuta av filmen? Är det inte ovissheten som gör att vi vill sitta 2 timmar (eller Livet +80 år) och se vad som kommer hända? Om någon skulle säga hur många dagar du hade kvar att leva,  hade du varit lyckligare nu?


Ovissheten gör att vi vill forstätta och jag tror att detta är något som många (jag själv inkluderad) kämpar med i USA som au pairer. Man har en vision om hur relationen med familjen ska vara, hur man ska komma till huset och alla familjemedlemmar ska vara uppradade utanför huset med färgstarka skyltar som textar Välkommen till USA. –Visst vore det härligt? I mitt fall var mottagande kanske inte lika glamoröst. Visst var de glada men jag tror det är viktigt att tänka på en sak som au pair – man blir en familjemedlem, detta är inget man föds till likt man gjorde i den familj man har hemma.

Familjen och du har bara pratat ett par gånger, skickat några mail. Det är omöjligt att känna någon genom endast några mail. Du skulle inte säga att någon var din familj efter några mail eller samtal i ditt eget land. Som i vilken annan relation, oavsett vem det är med, måste man bjuda på sig själv till både föräldrar och värdbarn. Hur ska man annars bli en i familjen?

Bjud in familj och barnen i ditt liv och visa dem vem du är och jag lovar att de kommer göra samma sak FÖR DIG!

Troligtvis är det inte grönare på andra sidan staketet och oavsett så kommer startstäckan alltid finnas, då man måste lära känna en familj. Det är trots allt därför som du har valt att åka till USA.

Slutligen vill jag avsluta med att summera detta genom att ovisshet är många gånger kryddan till livet och det är inte nödvändigt att ha alla svar den första månaden. Att vara en familjemedlem är något som tar tid och något man bygger upp genom förtroende, kärlek och hårt arbete.


Jag har nu varit medlem i min familj sedan 2007 och jag kan lova att allt arbete varit så värt det!

/Amanda

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is it already time to start packing?


You finished your application, you made it through the matching process and the tedious visa process is over and done with. But Oh My! How did it suddenly become time to start packing?!?  It feels like it was just yesterday I was at the information meeting. Well, we like to say time flies when you are having fun. The au pair process will swing by a lot faster than you think and before you know it you will be getting off the plane in New York. One of the most common questions that we get here at the office is what should I pack.  This is always hard to answer, since it really depends from state to state. But our most common answer is not to pack too much. You WILL buy a lot in the USA over the year and you WILL have to bring that home as well. So the best is to pack the basics or things you wouldn’t be heartbroken to leave when it’s time to head home.  This is especially a good idea for winter jackets.

Here are some other one liners from our office staff about what to remember:

Madde: “Only pack for the season you are going to, then you can buy what you need in the USA for the coming seasons!”
Magda: “For the love of god, don’t forget your DS-2019!!!!”
Anni: “All you really need is your credit card… ”
Jenny: “Just don’t pack too much…. Au Pairs always regret that!”
Amy: “A diary is the best keepsake once you get back home, I would recommend to bring on of those”
Amanda:  “One of those external chargers that you can just plug your phone in are amazing on the flight over ”
Linnea: “A year’s supply of kex chocolate… ”

Victoria: “Make sure to bring a present for your host family…. And also, don’t forget those favorite jeans!”


Ps. The picture is cute, but you are NOT allowed to bring your dog! Ds. 


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dreaming of Cape Cod and my time as an Au Pair in the US.


The fall is almost here and I do like the fall and the coziness but my favorite season is for sure the summer. I love our bright summer nights here in the Nordic countries which was something I really missed when living abroad in the US. During my weeks of vacation this summer I went to Greece for two weeks just relaxing and windsurfing. I have a big passion for water sports which was something I experienced while living abroad. I love to go windsurfing, surfing, wakeboarding and scuba diving. It is just something with the feeling of only focusing on your water sport and there is nothing else that can stop you. Another thing that I would like to do more is to read books, as of right now, reading books are something I only have time doing during my vacation. This summer, I read a book called Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand which is the perfect summer beach read since it is a book about a tiny Island called Nantucket, just outside of Cape Cod in Massachusetts where I was an au pair. Have you ever heard about Cape Cod?

Cape Cod is located just two hours south of Boston, I strongly recommend you to swing by this paradise if you happen to be in the area. It is this beautiful summer vacation place with lots of summer houses and it does remind me a little bit of the summers in the Nordics. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches, lobster and clam chowder. If you’d like to experience Cape Cod the real way you to need to try to their clam chowder and lobster - very delicious!  

If you are about to become an Au Pair on Cape Cod or in the area, feel free to have a chat with me over the phone if you call in and I will give you the best recommendations of what to do when visiting Cape Cod.

I wish you a great day!

Best wishes,

Malin, Au Pair in Cape Cod & California, Regional Manager at the Stockholm Office.