Picture this: As you descend closer and closer to the airstrip at a New York City airport, you peek out the window and get your first glimpse of the USA. The plane lands, you get off, and you take your first step onto American soil.
You make your way through the airport, navigating through signs printed in English and popular American food vendors, to find your way to your transportation—your shuttle bus that will take you, a new Cultural Care au pair in the USA, to the Au Pair Training School just outside the city.
As the bus makes its way to the Training School campus, you continue to watch out the bus window as you pass by buildings, highways, houses that all seem so different and foreign. Is it just you—or is everything BIGGER here?!
You finally make it to the Training School and are greeted by friendly, American faces who are excited to host you for the week and show you the ins and outs of au pair life.
You’ve done it—you’ve traveled to the USA! Now the adventure begins …
An au pair’s first arrival in America is such a special experience, because it’s full of so many very first impressions of the USA as a country and a culture. It’s a first glimpse into the land where you’ll spend the next year of your life—the place you’ll call home.
What are the usual first impressions of the USA? Great question! It’s one we tried to answer by traveling to the Au Pair Training School ourselves to get the real deal from real au pairs. Here are their thoughts on America, based on their very first few days.
We hope they get you thinking about what your first thoughts are upon landing in a new place—and whether they hold true after you get to truly know a place and its people …
“The first day I was here, I went downtown in New York City and to Brooklyn. I was lost at first, but everyone was really helpful. I’ve always heard that people in the USA are cold and things like that—but my first impression wasn’t this. People here are helpful and warm.”
—Debora, age 23, au pair from Brazil
“When we were on the highway from the airport to here at the school, I thought it was like at home. Because it’s almost the same—lots of traffic, lots of cars. It’s not so different. When we arrived here, it’s very different—for example, in Mexico, it’s hotter than here. I can see that here, when we are indoors, you could be in shorts if you wanted. It’s very cold outdoors though. The walls in my room are so big so the cold can’t get inside.
I’ve noticed too that Americans are good people. I like how they express themselves.”
—René, age 18, au pair from Mexico
“I’m in love with this country so far! At the airport, I already started to see how different from my culture you are. In Brazil, I’d give you a hug when I met you for the first time. Here people prefer giving a handshake, which is more formal.”
—Gabriele, age 20, au pair from Brazil
“Americans are polite—sometimes Argentinians are tough about how we say things (we can come off as rude, or harsh, we sometimes don’t think before speaking). Americans really think hard about what they’re going to say. Or how. I like that, I’ve learned a lot from that. It provides lots of context.”
—Leila, age 24, au pair from Argentina
“America is beautiful! It’s amazing that I get to practice my English. It’s becoming natural already. Also, Americans are really nice. Everyone says they’re closed off and don’t like touching—but it’s not like that at all. It’s definitely not the typical American stereotype. So far, Americans have received me warmly—they’ve been really friendly.”
—Lucas, age 25, au pair from Brazil
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