Cultural Exchange

Brazilian Au Pair Fernanda Leaves Her Comfort Zone Behind

Au pair Fernanda and her host family.
Image courtesy of Fernanda

Au pair Fernanda from Brazil has lived with her New Jersey host family for almost two years. Throughout her journey as an au pair, Fernanda has learned so much about herself. Here’s her au pair experience, in her own words.

I decided to be an au pair mainly because I was always crazy about traveling abroad and improving my English in the United States. I decided to look for a type of cultural exchange that could suit me and found the au pair program.

The au pair program met Fernanda’s goals of traveling and improving her English.
Image courtesy of Fernanda

I was very nervous about what it would be like living with a family for at least a year that speaks a different language and lives in a different culture. It turned out very well after three months of adjustment.

I think we need to be patient with ourselves and take some time to feel comfortable. It is normal to be afraid of leaving our comfort zone!

Showing off the Brazilian flag at the White House.
Image courtesy of Fernanda

My host family is lovely! What I like most about them is that they respect me and are always concerned about me, just like my family would be in Brazil.

My host children are the love of my life… I love these three children with all my heart.

Fernanda and her host kids.
Image courtesy of Fernanda

I have LOTS of memories with them, but one that always makes me feel good is when I remember that on my birthday, they brought me breakfast in bed.

One of the many things that surprised me as an au pair is how much patience I could develop over these two years! I learned how to handle difficult situations better. I learned a way to manage things that I never thought I could.

Fun on Halloween.
Image courtesy of Fernanda

I think homesickness is the hardest challenge to face. Being alone without someone you’ve always known is very difficult. I get over it by being open and making new friends. We need to do it here to survive!

Fernanda’s advice for other au pairs is to just go for it!
Image courtesy of Fernanda

My advice to the other au pairs is basically to be open to a new culture, a new country, and a new you. Be ready and accept all the changes you will go through. You are ready to start the best moment of your life! Of course it will hurt some days, of course you will work hard, sometimes you may cry and wish for a different way. But there will be so many amazing moments, and you’ll be so thankful. Be open and fill your heart with all the courage in the world, and get on board!

Joy Lo

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.