This summer, I will be an Au Pair for a family in Spain. Last semester and up until my Christmas vacation, I hadn’t even thought about travelling abroad in a different country and living with a new family. But, as I returned back to school and started thinking about my possibilities for the summer, I realized that I wanted to experience something new. Every summer up until this point, I have done relatively the same things – I go to the beach with friends and family, go camping, and just spend time with my family. And, although these things truly elevate my soul, I thought it was time for me to force myself out of my comfort zone yet again and broaden my vision of reality.
As a college student, I have learned much from different experiences. I have learned how to live (almost) completely on my own, how to apply for a debit card, how to email professors, how to take care of my health, and how to better manage my time. These experiences have helped broaden both my own capabilities and my vision of the world. Experience, thus, was the driving force in my determination to live abroad. I had hoped that this experience would teach me more life lessons, as well as aid in my Spanish fluency.
As someone rather proud of my independence, I initially researched my plans on my own. I found a website online which helps connect Au pairs with families (aupairworld.com). Once I had limited down my search to three families, I told my parents. They were very excited for me. Both my parents had travelled much during their early twenties, and they saw the learning opportunities for me through this experience. However, although they were happy for me, they both expressed their sadness that I would not be home during the summer. This was one aspect I altogether hadn’t considered. I only looked at the experience for its excitement and positive consequences. Bringing in this whole new factor made the trip much more serious than I had perceived it. Nevertheless, my determination for more experiences did not deter.
With the help of my parents, and intervention from the man upstairs, I found a great family for me. I had skyped numerous times, introduced the parents of the family to my parents, and felt confident in my decision. Both families were delighted to meet each other, and the calmness visible in my dad’s eyes upon speaking with the family reassured me in my plans.
I have already learned much in my preparations for Spain. The most important things I have learned so far have been through experience. From my applications for my passports, to planning out my flight patterns, I have had to spend much more time and thought than I had initially expected. I have also learned to be a little less intimidated by government processes. By going into the post-office, the Czech consulate, and AAA office, I have realized that there are people behind the labels of institutions who usually are much less intimidating in reality than it would seem.
Through these experiences, and through my parent's allowance to let me have these experiences, I have grown.
Starting in mid-May, I will write about my experiences in Spain (as well as my flight with a Russian airline).
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.