As a young person considering the au pair program, you’re probably wondering: “What are American families like? And what will MY host family be like?” It’s only natural to be curious about who you will be spending the majority of your time with during the next year (or more!) in the USA.
It’s safe to say that Cultural Care host families are grateful for all that au pairs bring to their households (including cultural exchange) and are ready to welcome their au pairs as part of their extended family. But while host families share these common sentiments, they’re also very different in many ways.
Brazilian au pair Inaye loves caring for the twins. “I love it. I consider myself a very lucky person because I found my second family.”
If you’re wondering: “Who will be part of my host family?”—you are in good company! Most of our host families have more than one child, and many have three or more kids. A lot of families also have multiples!
Sylwia, au pair from Poland, says she would choose her two host moms and her 5-year-old host boy all over again “because I have the best host family”.
While the heads-of-host-family-households are often a mom and dad, there are also lots of single and same-sex parents who love welcoming au pairs. And animal lovers—you’re in luck! Because over half of our host families have pets!
Oriane, au pair from France, loves living with a single mom. “Jennifer, in ten months, has completely changed me. I became a stronger woman, with more confidence in me, who now takes the time to love everything around me.”
For Colombian au pair Camila, single host mom Courtney and her adorable daughter are a perfect match!
Brazilian au pair Larissa has found her perfect host family in CA which includes three toddlers and two host moms “I love living with two strong women and I am glad I learn a lot about different cultures here.”
The USA is sometimes likened to a kaleidoscope—meaning Americans represent many different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Our host families are similarly diverse! They also practice many different religions including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. Part of the joy of being an au pair is experiencing cultural differences, and au pairs who have embraced host families from different backgrounds and religions are happy they did.
Colombian au pair Claudia feels well cared for by her host family.
Lizeth, from Colombia, matched with an Indian-American family and she loves everything about her situation: “I am from Colombia; they are from India; and we live in the United States—it makes everything fun!” Lizeth is learning to cook Indian food and teaching her family how to make arepas. She is learning Hindi words and teaching them Spanish. “I never imagined I would be so happy and I would love this family the way I do right now.”
Though Brazilian au pair Patricia and her host family practice different religions, she feels like they are a great match! “This family made me feel at home since day one; and they still ask me all the time if I am comfortable.”
German au pair Niklas loves learning about his host family’s Jewish traditions but appreciates that they support him in celebrating holidays that are important to him: “They support me so much, so I can still enjoy my holidays—like Christmas—too.”
Cultural Care host families live in 48 out of the 50 U.S. states. (Sorry—if you want to experience Hawaii or Alaska, you’ll have to plan a vacation there!) The majority of our host families report living in the suburbs, but quite a few are in urban areas and many also enjoy life in rural America.
Brazilian au pair Erika loves living with her host family in the New England state of Massachusetts. There are many other au pairs living in MA, making it an easy place to make friends.
Many au pairs find themselves joining host families in states they’ve heard about already—New York, California, Texas to name a few. But just as many au pairs end up smaller, lesser-known states. Luciana from Argentina loves living in the midwestern state of Oklahoma: “Oklahoma and the Lepak family are my place in the world.”
Swedish au pair Felicia spent her first year in New Mexico and extended for a year with a new family in South Carolina. She hadn’t heard of either of these places before but now says, “New Mexico and South Carolina will always be in my heart.”
Au pairs often wonder what host families do both for work and in their free time, and the short answer is: just about everything! Host families have many different careers in every field imaginable. And while most of our host parents are working professionals, some are stay-at-home parents as well.
German au pair Jacqueline’s host mom is a stays-at-home and they work as a great team together. “I didn’t just get a host mom, I got a real friend I could tell her everything.”
Au pair Denisse, from Mexico, had never seen snow before coming to the USA. But when host family encouraged her to try one of their favorite activities—snowboarding—she found a new passion.
In terms of personal interests, host families have just as many different hobbies as au pairs do. Sometimes similar interests can help au pairs bond with their host families, but being exposed to new sporting activities, music, books, etc. can be really exciting as well.
Swedish au pair Mathilda says, “Both my host parents are big inspirations to me.” When she needed a new outlet for physical activity, she looked to her host mom, a long distance runner, for help. “Adrienne helped me with everything from the schedule to the food I should eat and believing in me when I thought I couldn’t do it.”
Former Mexican au pair Melanie is grateful for the great connection she has with her host family. “They put their trust in me, and now I feel like I can do great things.”
All of this is to say that there really is no such thing as a typical American host family—only the right American family for you! To find that perfect host family, Lotte, au pair from the Netherlands has some great advice. First, she says, “Don’t pick your family just because you like where they live. Pick them because you like THEM. Pick with your heart.”
And while cultural differences are ok—in fact, they are the reason the au pair program exists!—the most important thing is that you have the same values as your host family. Similar values and interests are what is most important to finding a home (and a family) away from home.
Attend an info meeting in your area for a fun and free way to learn everything you need to know about the program.