Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Works for me Wednesday with a difference

I'm going to be moving to El Paso, Texas from London, UK in early November to go and work for a lovely family as an au pair.
Does anyone have any tips that could work for me?

* I've never been an au pair before, so any experience you could share on that would be great.

* I've also never been on a plane before.

* Does anyone have experience of getting\providing health insurance for Brits coming to live in the US?

* What are the essentials of life I ought to be packing?

* Do you have any sort of experience related to this kind of thing that you'd like to share?

(Sorry to ask so many questions!)

Most of all, thanks to Shannon for coming up with this genius idea of a WFMW which provides me with a whole host of people whose brains I can pick.


Liz said...

Well, first off you will need to be prepared for:

A) the heat
B) Very Friendly people (I'm from Texas and while El Paso is almost New Mexico it is still in the Lone Star State and well, we tend to be VERY FRIENDLY, I'm afraid others may read it as, NOSY!)
C) As far as the kids go, just give them some time to get to know you.

Good Luck!

Leigh said...

Wow, what a wonderful opportunity for you to experience another country's culture. You may laugh but I'm sure things will be VERY DIFFERENT :)

My suggestion is - throw out your definition of normal and just adapt.

I think if you love children, that's the main thing.

oh, and lots of prayer :)

Kathleen said...

All I can tell you is that you might want gum on the plane, and sleep on the plane as much as you can. Also, as far as the job goes, remember planes fly both ways, and nothing is set in stone. I can't really help you on the health insurance. It's lousy all around, as far as I can tell. And expensive.

Texas is probably as culturally different from New England as Germany. And originally I'm from New Jersey which is like its own country. So I really have no idea what you're in for. But Please keep posting, please keep us all informed! This will be an adventure, so approach it that way and I'm sure you will be fine.

Also, Texas IS supposed to be hot. But that doesn't mean it can't get cool.

The King and I said...

Hey Debs.
Tips for the plane
1) Take socks and a gets cold
2) Ear plugs....its noisy
3) A great book, mags, plenty to read and keep yourself amused. Also, there will be in flight movies
4) Drink plenty....its easy to become dehydrated and feel rough
5) Don't worry about bumpy moment during the flight

Cu lata, Ang xxx

Mary deB said...

Once upon a time I lived in Texas, and it SNOWED, and was freezing cold, for an afternoon. My husband, after laughing at the panic this inspired in the Texans, slipped on the one patch of ice in town, and broke his wrist. So we have experience of emergency rooms, and all I can say is, get decent health coverage, and get your employer to find out how much it will cost, and pay you appropriately. No good spending all your money on insurance, but you have to have it, just in case of that one patch of ice!
Also, stock up on any prescriptions in the UK if you can!

Anonymous said...

I am a native prepared to be hot HOT HOT! Hubbies family once all lived in El Paso and it is the middle of a desert! Again HOT.

I was a nanny during college and LOVED it, I couldn't have asked for a better family either

We are very friendly here (hince why I am warning you to leave your knickers behind :) ), we welcome everyone, but sometimes I am convinced that you need a passport to come to Texas!!

Good luck!

Melissa Markham said...

It is going to be quite a transition for you and a wonderful learning experience! Be prepared for hot weather, but still bring one sweater for those cooler nights. Be sure to check with the airline and get all of their security measures so that you will know what you can and cannot take on the plane. Of course have your passport and shots up to date.

Health insurance is expensive here in the states, ask your employer to help you. Since you are young and presumably in good health, hopefully you can find something not too expensive.

Bring something to do on the plane. Drink lots (bring water if it is allowed these days) and you probably want to bring some lotion too (again if it is allowed) as your skin can become very dry. They usually have good movies and good service on those transatlantic flights. At least they did 11 years ago when I visited Paris.

The people in Texas are very friendly!

Thanks for your suggestion about helping to keep my daughter in bed. My problem, that I originally forgot to mention, is that I walk my daughter back and then I lay down for just a moment and fall asleep! YIKES!

Amy D said...

Congratulations on this new adventure! And welcome to Texas soon! ;)
Ditto what everyone has said about the heat - don't waste much space packing lots of coats and sweaters. Winters can be very mild.
Most Texans are very friendly. Try to relax and be yourself. What may seem like someone being nosey (or even rude!) may be them just taking a friendly interest in you.
I have a family member who has been a nanny for the same little girl for about 3 years (since she was born). She has always made sure to find things to go out and do - playgroups, library story-time, even mommy&me type stuff. This can be as good for you as for the little one! :)

Girl Gone Wild said...

I've spent half my life moving from country to country. You've been given some great advice and hope it helps. Please do some checking into culture shock (the phases). You'll be surprised just how much it will effect you. There were times when I would be going through something, then look at my culture shock chart and I'd be exactly where they said I'd be.

Best of luck to you!

rebekah said...

Having just made an international move myself ( from Chicago to Hong Kong) I can tell you that the best thing to do is pack things that remind you of home. for us it was games, some knick knacks from our travels, and family photos, and son our cats...

does the family insure you? I think they can put you on their insurance.

set up a way to stay in contact with your family and friends from home before you go, whether it be IM, email, snail mail, or for the privledged few, phone calls. it's nice to know they are there waiting when you arrive.

Just remember that it's an adventure, enjoy what you can, it's OK to miss some things, as long as that doesn't keep you from enjoying your new home. I still miss American Pepsi, but I love things about Hong Kong too.

A journal might help too, as long as you remember to put both good and bad in there.

Have a great time!

Kathryn said...

I have moved internationally several times, have lived in Texas..and now live in the UK. Since you're advice:

1. Carry on: An extra set of socks/undergarments, any toiletries currently allowed that you like to have immedadiately, things to do, any personal documents/visa applications etc. A jumper/socks, pain reliever, snacks (in case the food is bad), any phone numbers/addresses for emergencies as well as your arrival information. If its being allowed when you travel, lipsyl and a small tube of hand cream..its dry on the plane!
2. Bring a variety of clothes, but some things you should never move without: A basic black dress-preferably one that is so basic it can go to a funeral or a party depending on accessories, black pumps to go with said dress, something professional looking, something comforting, and something frivolous. Is there is a certain brand/size of undergarments you like, buy a stock of new ones. Clothes are cheaper in the US but sometimes its just not fun to shop around for new knickers when you are settling in somewhere.
3. Try to envision your move back home or to your next location. You will accumulate stuff. As such...consider bringing some clothing that you can wear for now and then leave behind.
4. Bring a reasonable supply of toiletries for your first few weeks. Things in other countries smell different, some brands will be the same, but some won't. Sometimes its just too overwhelming to have to figure it all out at once.
5. As far as personal memetos, think small, very meaningful and not too breakable. Photos are excellent..try to find small frames or wait and buy a few that match your new space-easier than moving them.
6. If you need to, ship a box to yourself there. I have done this loads of times for things like bedding (I have a very nice duvet I dont want to live without). It can get expensive but sometimes having your own ___. is worth it.
Don't pack: Hangers, a year's worth of toiletries, more than a few books (sometimes its nice to bring books you don't want to keep and just donate them before going home), lots of little electrical appliances. Its cheaper to buy a new hair dryer/whatever than to get converters for everything...and it saves space.
7.tuck a few teabags for your favourite tea into your carry on. When you are tired, disoriented and first arrive...the first thing you will probably want is something comforting. Some teas are the same in america, some aren' will just make you feel that much better.
8. You might want your own thermometer. I bring mine because when I'm sick the last thing I want to do is convert. Its small.
9. Bring some anti-diarreal caplets (regular strength) and your favourite cold medicine. Just enough for a day or two of anything. Being sick in a farway place is hard...and the last thing you want to do is stand around reading boxes to find out which is the same as the one you always buy at home. A lot of things have the same name, but some don't.
10. Have a couple of friends/family members on standby to mail you care packages. It takes about a week to arrive, sometimes more/less. 2 weeks, 1 month and 3 months are often critical times. It can get expensive, but small packets aren't too bad. Ideas? a packet of your favourite biscuits/tea/candy/jaffa cakes, new photos, or a theme box (my friends sent me a whole box of small pink things when I arrived).
11. Jet-lag, homesickness and things of that ilk: Drink lots of water. Before the plane, on the plane, after the plane. Try to avoid caffeine around then too, it can make jet lag worse. If you have a choice about flight scheduling, try to arrive closer to bed time. It makes it much easier if you only have to stay up for a few hours. You will still wake up at odd times, but it does help you adjust faster. Also remember that your tummy has to adjust too. I used to get hungry at odd times. Keep a few light snacks around. If you feel homesick...try to access your favourite newspaper from home online. Dig into your stash of home tea/biscuits, cook a meal from home if you have access to a kitchen, watch a film from home (don't bring dvds they won't work), GET A SKYPE ACCOUNT AND A MIC! Seriously. Its cheap. You can call landlines for cheap and other skype users for free., listen to some favourite music or check out the local pbs channel to see if they have any BBC comedies on.
12. Health Insurance...try Blue Cross, they often have decent basic packages. You shouldn't really need with a good supply of any prescriptions you can get, as well as the generic name for anything. Allow more time for dr's appointments, prescription refills etc. at lest twice what it takes on the NHS.
14. Instead of a journal, try to take a keepsake box...for shells, tickets, and other stuff. You can also add journal pages. Online blogs help to keep people at home updated too.
15. Remember its an adventure, and sometimes adventures are hard. Its ok to be upset about the small stuff, but don't let yourself dwell on it for too long. Have a cry, calm down..then find something relaxing, fun or soothing to do.

Ter said...

Thanks for popping by my blog and for your comments! :)

I have not any advice for you, I'm from Canada! :) But I wish you luck on your travels. :)

Pauline said...

I moved from Ireland to Key West Florida as an au-pair. I'm still in the USA 13 years later. All the advice about the plane is good. I would defiently pack fresh undies and the likes in my carry-on as the first time i ever flew to the US, my luggage got lost. Thankfully I had clean undies in my cary-on.
The advice I would give you about the Au-Pair job is to call the agency if you have any problem. alos make sure yopu get the time off you are supposed to. MY biggest thing was that I literalely got 24 hours off, meaning on saturday at 6pm, the family would say you can go now and we will see you at 6 tmw evening. At first I thought that was what was meant to happen, but then realised that I was been taken. Just look out for youself.
And lastly enjoy the opportunity you have been given. I know that being an au-pair was the est thing I ever did. I have never looked back. It has made me grow and as a result I'm still in the USA and still working with children
Good luck

blest said...

And remember that you will be very well loved and taken care of by your host family!! hee hee

And you won't need movies or books - I have TONS of both!!!