Hey there, my name is Nick. I’ve been backpacking around the world for the last few years now and haven’t really had the stability of living in the same place for an extended period. Having to experience living away from the comfort of your home, family, and friends for a year may seem unnerving…. But I have always been a fan of pushing my limitations and stepping out of my comfort zone. When you do this, you find that if you approach life with an honest initiative and seek a truthful message, wonderful opportunities come your way. One of these wonderful opportunities came in the form of a cultural Au-pair exchange to the land of America.
America, this was going to be my home for the next year of my life. The land of the free, the bold and brave. It was my first time traveling to the states. The anticipation was building up and I was excited for what was to come in the next few onths. Arriving to a cold, snow-covered environment was the first real change to my warmer accustomed lifestyle back in South Africa. Right from the start, I was welcomed into a sincere and happy household with an arrangement of hugs and little presents. I had naively thought that I was going to be exposed to the lifestyle of a typical American family, however, the local surrounding community has a very strong and passionate Russian presence. Throughout my time here I have been introduced to a lot of this different culture, which has been amazing to play witness to. I have even managed to learn a few words with the aid of my little girl Katherine, who becomes my strict Russian grammar teacher when I’m trying to learn.
An important responsibility of my time being here is providing care to three awesome and vibrant children. I’ve always been a fan of children’s energy and natural curiosity as it serves as a reminder of the simpler lessons in life. Which is to take a step back, stop taking life so seriously and allow yourself to go out and play in the mud every once in a while. This child-like energy is not lacking in the household, there’s always something going on.
My Host Family is a Dream Come True.
Max the oldest child of the family, is a keen scientist and has a huge fascination for space and things around him. He once gave me a 30-minute lecture whilst we were waiting around about his theory of black holes and the possibility of inventing time travel. Naturally, I knew what he was talking about. Max is a kind, soft child who has a thirst for knowledge that exemplifies a character trait that I think we should all aspire to have.
Greg is a complete and utter water baby…I know that if I willingly get into the pool with him there’s a chance that I won’t be leaving for the next 2 hours. But that is never really a problem …Just put on some shades, bring some music and let the summer vibes roll in. However, one thing is apparent. Greg has a deep-seated desire in soaking as many people as he can who enter the pool area with his water cannon, whether you have your cell-phone or any electronic device nearby.
Needless to say, I’ve found that my off the mark acceleration speed has improved since my time being here as I often find myself dodging blasts from Greg’s water cannons.
Katherine is a princess who is going to be doing some big things in the future. She has a very passionate personality and an amazing wonder for life. I think our favorite activity together would probably be going to the park… where we get lost in the creative process and find ourselves traversing different worlds and saving damsels in distress.
My Host Parents Are Great Role Models.
I feel privileged in coming to a family in which the parents are such respectable role models for their kids. They are kind, fun, loving people who have been open in sharing their Russian heritage and life experience with me. I have learned a lot about the fundamental value of sacrificing for your children and the importance of having a successful mindset in going about life.
I feel settled and comfortable here, and love that I get to see the hustle and bustle of New York City, witness the calm beaches of Jersey shore or take a leisurely stroll through the neighboring parks. There are a few lessons to take away from this experience. One of which is that there is no substitute for family and close friends. It has been extremely rewarding after a long day of traveling around the city to come back to a place where you are greeted with happy smiles and positive energy by those who are always happy to see you.
I will look back on my time here with fond memories and a happy smile. I am so appreciative of my Host Family for making my journey in this land one in which I will cherish in my heart to the end of my days.