Today we are hearing from Andrea, a Brazilian au pair who worked in Kansas City, Missouri for 13 months. (Kansas city being home of the best barbecue, of course. Not a bad fit for a Brazilian!)
Thanks Andrea for telling us about working as a Brazilian Au Pair in the USA. Andrea is our first Brazilian guest author on Become an Au Pair so welcome Andrea!
How did you find your family? Through a website, friends, etc.
I found them through an au pair agency called AuPairCare, and they were the one and only family I spoke to.
Were you in rural Kansas, the suburbs or a more cosmopolitan area?
I lived in the suburbs of Kansas City.
What kind of visa?
I had a J1 Visa, work and study.
Did you go to English school?
Yes. The main reason to become an au pair was to improve my English skills, so I signed up for classes as soon as I had a chance.
How long were you in the states?
What you loved about working in Kansas:
I loved that Kansas City has a population of two million and looked like a small town for the most part. The community was very kind.
Did you have your own room or own apartment?
Yes, I had my own room on the top floor of a 100–year old house. It was pretty cool for me, because in Brazil the houses are so different.
What duties did you have? Did you cook for the family?
I took care of a three-month-old baby and a five-year-old girl. My main job was to take care of the baby while the five-year-old was in school, then play with both of them until dinnertime. I also had to clean up after the kids and me. My host mom cooked dinner everyday and I helped set up the table and clean up after.
How did you entertain/educate the children?
I did a lot of art projects, drawing and singing with the five-year-old. And the baby had her phases, I remember feeding her first bottle and getting very emotional about it!
How did you spend your free time?
I made a lot of friends, and spent my weekends exploring Kansas City and its neighboring towns. I experienced American culture as much as possible. The au pair salary wasn’t the best but I managed to go to school and travel.
When you first got there, did you feel any culture shock?
Definitely. Everything was different. Language was the main shock, but once I learned how to communicate, everything became a little easier. I was very open to the new experience.
How did you make friends? Was it difficult in a small town? Were there many expats/fellow au pairs?
I was very concerned about meeting people. And surprised about how much expatriates I met in Kansas City. Especially Brazilians. At that time, I didn’t have Facebook, but Brazil used other social media called Orkut, and I found a community online of a group of Brazilians in Kansas City. Once I arrived, they hosted me with open arms and through them I met people from all over the world.
What was the dating scene like in Kansas?
A little challenging since I came from a very warm and touchy culture. I didn’t use online dating at that time, so it was mostly flirting at bars and events, or meeting through friends. Midwestern guys were gentlemen and excited to date a Brazilian.
How did you handle homesickness?
I didn’t feel homesick until the third month in Kansas City, on a Sunday afternoon. I found myself bored and it hit me. I remember crying a lot, but after the first time every time I missed home, I would call my mom to catch up. Also, tried to keep myself very busy and embraced the community.
Did you find it easy to improve your English?
It was a little challenging because I made Brazilian friends as soon as I arrived. Today, I suggest people to open their minds and try to speak their native language. But I had a goal and I worked hard to achieve it.
Overall would you recommend working in Kansas?
Definitely. Kansas City is a great place to live. There is a fun nightlife, young crowd and a great place to experience the American way of life. I miss that place.
Any important things to pack?
You can find anything you need in that city just bring your open mind.
Have you ever worked as a Brazilian au pair in the USA? Comment below!
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