Valentine’s Day can be a lonely time of year, but even more so when you’re on the other side of the world from your family and friends. My homesickness was frustratingly powerful in the first three months of my au pair year, but it has since dramatically diminished. This is in large part due to the strong friendships that I’ve made; I have friends from not only Interexchange, but also other au pair agencies, as there is a large group of us who live here in the western Chicago suburbs. These girls – and the odd guy – are from all over the world, and my circle of wonderful friends include a Belgian, two Mexicans, a Costa Rican, one French, one Polish, and two fellow Britons. There are also au pairs from Colombia, Brazil, Germany and Thailand who I spend time with, all of whom introduce me to friends from their own countries.
It is with these people I spent my 2015 Valentine’s Day with, watching the movie 50 Shades of Grey and eating at an awesome restaurant called Flat Top. I had a great time, so much so there was no room to feel lonely. One of the best things about this experience is meeting these incredible people from around the world. I know I will leave the United States not only more knowledgeable about American culture, but I will also be infinitely more educated in cultures from across the globe. After I leave the States, I know I will travel even more, to new countries I’ve never been to, visiting friends I made during my time here.