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It is coming up to my 5 year anniversary next month, in June, since I left New Zealand for the US. Even more know than ever, the Au Pair in America motto means more than ever - "A year abroad, a lifetime of memories".

I was placed with a fantastic family in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was a truly idyllic setting, with the beach at the end of the street, beautiful house, decent car, but more importantly a family who welcomed me into their home and lives. I was lucky enough to fly over with two other Kiwi’s, and even luckier to be placed within half and hour of each of them.

They were so giving towards me, and I really felt like I was needed. It gave me so much happiness to just wake up in the morning, and know that it was going to be a great day, because they were going to be part of it. Liz and Jay’s parents accepted me as part of their family too, and the bond I developed with Liz’s mom Bitsy, is one which I really treasure.

My duties included getting the boys ready for school in the morning, breakfast, last minute homework, finding shoes, jackets etc. After they were at school, I did laundry, cleaning and tidying, ran errands, and had my own time until 3pm when I picked them up from school. After school was usually spent at basketball, soccer or baseball practice, with a play-date, or at one of the nature reserves. Then dinner for the family. Although I did do some things which were not required of me, such as Liz, and Jay’s laundry, and dinner for the whole family, I found that they were so giving towards me, that I found ways to repay that feeling when things were busy for them.

We went on vacations to North Carolina’s Outer Banks twice, and to Vermont to go skiing, plus a weekend retreat with Church in Colebrook, CT. Summer was spent at the beach, or on the boat fishing, and having friends over for dinner. During the winter we still went out on the boat, played in the snow, went sledding, and stayed indoors.

My host parents played a major part in making me the person I am now, and how I look at my life and the kind of person that I am. They gave me my inner strength, and Jay gave me his words of wisdom, which I have used on several occasions "Don’t worry about it until it happens, or you might miss out on something really special". What ever the situation, I seem to find a way to use his advice.

The Au Pair program gave me the opportunity to see parts of the world which I might not have seen otherwise. I travelled all down the east coast, and took a Trek America trip from Seattle to LA, through the National Parks, and the Grand Canyon. I wen into New York with friends and saw Broadway shows, went sightseeing in the city, and did some great shopping.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about participating in the Au Pair program, to go for it. Talk about it with someone who has gone, or knows about it, and be ready to be homesick, because it will happen. But the good things outweigh the bad, and if nothing else, it’s a fun way to spend a year". Paula H.
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