Living your life as au pair in America is for everyone different. For some people it is amazing and for others it is much harder. If you’re considering of becoming an au pair you might want to know how it is to be an au pair. Thats why I decided to interview au pairs and ask them about their experience. This week I interviewed Amanda Sövgren. I know her for a long time now because she was the au pair who was in my host family before me! She helped me a lot after I matched with my family and I can definitely tell you that we’re good friends now. Amanda stayed in America for two years so she has a lot of experience and a lot of tips for all the au pairs out there!
My name is Amanda and I am 23 years old. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden but grew up an hour from there in a city called Uppsala. Before I came to the US I was working full-time having recently graduated from high school. I spent two years in a place called Lynnwood, WA. It’s located outside of Seattle. I went there in August 2016 and didn’t go back home until August 2018. You might remember this little town from other places on this blog. That is because I was the previous au pair in the family Nory is currently in! That is how Nory and I know each other. So, regarding the kids, I took care of the same amount of kids; three kids, twin girls and a boy. Only difference was that the girls were 1,5 years old and the boy was 5 years old when I arrived.
Why did you became an au pair?
I needed a big change. I knew that I couldn’t get that at home in Sweden. When I was about to graduate and realized that I wouldn’t be accepted into the education I wanted to attend I needed to find something else to do. I had no idea what else I would like to study. Then I remembered that a few years before I had heard about the au pair thing and wanted to explore that more now.
I have always loved kids and before my youngest brother was born in 2010 I had dreamt for years about a small sibling. English is one of my favorite subjects and why not combine these two? In addition, the feeling of making something so nice for someone else made me sure that becoming an au pair was the right choice for me. I also felt that I needed to do something different, try something new before I decide what I want to do in the future.
What do you like most about your host family?
They truly made me a part of the family. I got invited to smaller things like grocery shopping and visits at the zoo. But I also got invited to bigger things like baby showers, Easter and family trips. During my work days I felt like a third adult in the household rather than an au pair. On the weekends I instead felt more like a daughter with all the love and warmth I got from them all. They made me feel like I could be and do whatever I would like to.
The love was, and still is, never ending. I feel like we created a lifelong bond full of love and warmth. How they still make me feel like a part of the family despite me being on the other side of the world. My whole host family, but especially my host parents, unknowingly helped me overcome some inner battles I had had for years which I will be forever grateful for. I truly feel like a got a second family that I didn’t even know I needed.
What is the biggest struggle you’ve had so far?
For me the biggest struggle was, still is sometimes, getting adjusted to the person I developed into. I didn’t turn into a different person. However, I did become an improved version of myself, Amanda 2.0 sort of. Maybe even 3.0 considering how long I was away haha! I grew in so many ways and got new opinions of things. I saw things with a new pair of eyes and did things I never would have done previously. It took me some time to accept that I was growing and changing. It also took some extra time to adjust when I went back to Sweden. I was still Amanda, but I did and acted somewhat differently from before I left.
What is your favorite part of America?
There are so many things I could write here! I would say different aspects with food is as American it gets. If you order a small drink it will be the same size as a large one in your home country. You want to go out for dinner? Great! You want pasta? Awesome, now you just have 6 different restaurants to choose from. You want ice cream? Perfect! First you have at least 10 different brands to choose from. Then every brand has a wide selection of flavors. The food in America are both a blessing and a curse to be honest!
And what are you still not used too?
This is something that actually helped me grow during my years. Coming from a country where people tend to be really quiet and drawn back, it was a big difference with how nice most Americans are. Especially in stores the people who work there are nice and helpful. Immediately when you enter a store you get a “welcome” or a “how are you?”. This is not something that occurs in Sweden, so it has taken awhile for me to get comfortable with it.
What was your favorite trip?
Hawaii without a doubt. I went there twice: once with my host family and once with a friend. The island we visited was Oahu. No one is lying when they say that Hawaii is paradise on earth. It was so relaxing and beautiful. I had two different experiences on the trips but equally as amazing. Normally I’m not the one who likes warm weather. But when you’re in Hawaii and can lay on the beach all day; then it is the best thing ever. I can’t wait to go back there someday!
Which app is fundamental for an au pair?
There are so many you can use! The ones I used the most were Expedia, Airbnb and Pinterest. I also liked to find different au pair accounts on Instagram to follow for inspiration.
What did you do when you got back home?
A few weeks after I got home I started college! My plan is to finish college, I have about 3 years left. It is weird being in college though because you question all the time if you chose the right thing or not. In the meantime I keep on studying and working at an elderly home (sort of). My biggest goal this is year is to be able to make two trips I have planned. One is to London where one of my best friends will be studying for the fall semester. The other one is back to my host family.
What is your ultimate tip for future and current au pairs?
Remember that you are not alone. There are many au pairs around you and at least one or two have had the exact same feeling that you have. You all have been new at one point and you are all in this together. At the same time you also have your host family, your LCC and your family back home. Do not be afraid to open up and talk about what is on your mind. If you are homesick, talk to your host parents. They will most likely want to help you in any way they can. There is always someone to talk to when you want to clear your head. Do not be afraid of speaking up!
Find Amanda on Instagram: @asvgren
Previous au pair stories
Saskia: ‘Nobody here will judge you’
Daniela: “They will always be my heroes”
Caterina: ‘Don’t think about it! Just Jump in it!’