Why I love my host family

By Hayley Gee, Cultural Care au pair from the UK

From the moment my host family – the Lovejoys – entered my life, I felt like I was right where I belonged. They welcomed me into their home and their heart with open arms. And they made my time abroad an experience I’ll carry with me forever.

When I arrived, I was greeted at the train station with drawings that the children had made for me. My very first evening with the Lovejoys, they made a traditional English meal for me so I felt comfortable and at home with them.

We have done so many family activities together this year. We celebrated Thanksgiving with extended family in New York City. This was the first time I have celebrated Thanksgiving and it was also the first time I met my host mum’s family – but they were all so kind and welcoming.

Together, as a family, we’ve gone to the cinema, ice skating, out for meals, to watch the children in the Christmas pageant and even to choose a Christmas tree. This was a lovely day for me that I will always remember. We went to a Christmas Tree Farm and walked around for an hour looking for the right tree. We then took it home and decorated it together. When hanging the stockings above the fireplace, I had my very own hand-knitted stocking with my name on it! That meant so much to me.

At Christmas time, they made their traditional Christmas dinner and I made English Yorkshire Puddings to go with it. We had a big meal and a big celebration with all the family and everyone exchanged gifts. The whole family was so generous and I received so many lovely and thoughtful presents. I felt like a part of the family.

Just a few months into my au pair year, my Nanny passed away. I was very close to her and so my host parents encouraged me to do whatever I needed to to grieve, whether that was going home for the funeral or staying in the USA. I decided to stay – and on the day of my Nanny's funeral, my host mom bought me lots of goodies to help me feel better. We all had afternoon tea and cakes in honour of my Nanny (it was her favourite thing). This was all my host mum’s idea, and I was truly touched that she had thought about this and done this for me.

I should also note that my host children are wonderful. They’re comfortable around me and love spending time with me – I really think they see me as a big sister. I love that. On top of that, the Lovejoys always encourage me to go out with my friends in my free time. I often have friends sleep over and my host parents love it – they enjoy meeting my friends.

Soon, we are all going to visit Disneyland as a family! It's a very expensive trip and I wasn't expecting to be included. But my host parents have bought me a plane ticket and are inviting me along. I am so grateful and feel so lucky.

Everything that the Lovejoy family does for me comes naturally to them. They are thoughtful, caring, loving and really truly treat me like I am a member of their family. They are the most perfect family that I could have wished to find. I am so excited of all the days, months, laughs, experiences and special times we have ahead.