When I came to Finland to be an au pair (live-in nanny) five months ago, I was scared, to say the least. I wondered if the kids I was supposed to be taking care of would even like me. I was supposed to be like a big sister to them —would I be able to handle it? Now, at the end of my journey, I’m proud to say that yes, I could handle it. Those two kids (six and one and a half) have become my world. For months, I have enjoyed being their big sister, honestly forgetting that I was doing a job. While I have taught them things over our time together — they’ve taught me so much more.
- Hug your loved ones
As a stressed-out college student, it’s easy to forget to hug those that you love. We have jobs, homework and extracurricular activities that take up our time. Something as simple as hugging someone you love seems to be forgotten. Seeing the six-year-old boy hug his friends before leaving school or wrap his arms tightly around his parents when they come home reminds me just how important a hug can be. It’s important to slow down and remind those around you that you love them. As we all know, we never know what tomorrow brings.
- Try to find the beauty in everything
To me, there’s nothing more amazing than seeing a toddler figure out the world around them. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to watch that journey for the past five months. Watching her grow into the toddler she is today has been one of the best experiences. Seeing her be amazed by the snow on the ground, the toys in her classroom and anything she can get her hands on at home reminds me how truly lucky we are to be here. Everything around us has some sort of beauty in it, we just have to find it!
- Family isn’t always blood
When I first decided to be an au pair, I was scared because I wanted to be sure that I found the perfect family for me. Somehow, thanks to the internet, I did. I have been welcomed, by all members, into the most wonderful family I could have ever imagined. Without them, this journey would have been absolutely terrifying and not at all as fun as it turned out to be. I’m so thankful to have been accepted and loved by this family. I left America as the youngest of two who has always dreamt of having a little brother or sister, and I’m returning with two little siblings who I love so dearly.
I’m so lucky that this experience was so positive for me, as some other au pairs are not quite as lucky. While being in Finland I learned so much about myself, life and the love that we show and give to others.