New York, New York

Ideally, I would have written at least two posts by now, having been in the states for 11 days, but as expected I’ve been super busy embracing my new lifestyle and haven’t really taken any time to myself (apart from when I spent half an hour finding a way to watch the last episode of Doctor Foster from the US, which was totally worth it).

So I now need to flashback to a week ago when I was still in New York, which now feels like at least month ago. New York was amazing. It was exactly how I imagined it: no better, no worse. I felt instantly at home there, although arriving in the States actually emphasised my affection for London and Surrey.

I met a couple of other British Au pairs, Zoe and Holly, at Heathrow who I’d be speaking to for a while before leaving, so we boarded together, separated for the 8 hour flight and then met at the other end in JFK. We arrived at about 7pm when the sun was just setting and flying over the east coast after all the lights had been turned on but the sky was still lit up with pinks and oranges was incredible.

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The sunset emerging through the clouds like lava

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Approaching New York at sunset

We were staying at The New Yorker hotel which was very nice. The view from my room, particularly at sunrise, was stunning. I could see part of Times Square and the Empire State building through the unfortunately placed scaffolding which ruined all my photos. At 6am the next morning, the view from my window was the first time I’d ever seen the city in daylight and it made me fall in love.

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The comfiest bed I have ever slept in

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wish it were possible to capture the beauty

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I had a roommate whilst I was there: her name was Paula, she was an Au pair from Madrid and one of the loveliest people I’ve met.

We had training during the day for three days, so I would get up at around half 6 to get breakfast at the restaurant in the lobby before starting at half 8. One of the many things Interexchange provided us with were vouchers for free breakfasts and lunch at the restaurant, although with a limited selection. For breakfast I would get a fruit salad and some sort of pastry, and also tea of course. The tea was not as weird as people told me it would be. They didn’t have the non-dairy milk I drink so because it was more like a really strong herbal tea I was able to drink it without milk and it wasn’t bad at all. For my first lunch I had a lentil soup with a grilled cheese and the next day I had a veggie burger which very much exceeded my expectations. The third day, a couple of girls from ‘the Brit pack’ and I got the salads we were craving at a place across the street and ate in the sun.

Training was fun, albeit very long. We covered American culture, the needs and stages of development of all ages of infants, first aid and CPR training, and lots more. The two women from Interexchange who talked to us over the three days were both interesting in different ways and managed to keep us engaged throughout, but obviously being jet lagged made it tough to stay alert at times. The jet lag wasn’t too bad because going back in time meant needing to go to bed early but then also being able to get up early quite easily. I had some weird symptoms though: the weirdest being the rocking sensation I would get every so often where it would feel like I was standing on a boat for a few minutes, but would eventually pass. I had that feeling for at least 5 days after arriving. Fortunately for me, my friend Jade mentioned feeling that way too- although it seemed like we were the only ones!? Jade and I met through Facebook a couple of months ago and after meeting for breakfast on the first morning we hit it off instantly! I am insanely happy to have a friend who’s so similar to me living 15 minutes away.

In our evenings we obviously wanted to see as much of the city as possible. The first night we were offered a discounted walking tour which the majority of us took. Our tour guide was a sweet old woman who held up her umbrella as we walked so we wouldn’t get lost from her. She showed us a lot of areas which have now been wiped from my memory, as well as Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and Central Park. After 3 or so hours we got the subway back to 34th street (down the road from our hotel) and went for the Pizza and salad that were included in our discounted ticket prices.

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On our second night, a lovely group of us (there were 25 Au pairs in total at orientation) went exploring. We took the subway to the new World Trade Center and then of course visited the 9/11 memorial site which was beautiful and very moving. We then got very lost following multiple contradicting instructions to find the Staten Island ferry, but after eventually finding it, got on. Once we started moving, Jade and I snuck away from the group so we could stand outside on the tiny deck to get a better view. It was incredible. As the boat moved further away from the coast we got to see all of the Manhattan skyline (as it was of course dark by then), as well as Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge; we then passed straight by the statue of liberty as well. That night we were all exhausted and made our way back to the hotel by about half 9, grabbing dinner on the way to eat in our rooms.

Unfortunately I couldn’t go out on the third night because my host parents, Beth and Scott, work during the day so it was easier for them to have me arrive on Thursday evening rather than Friday. I wasn’t dissapointed though because not only was I really excited to meet them but I knew that I’d be living close enough to come back to the city regularly. Beth and Scott actually drove directly to the hotel to collect me which I thought was very sweet.They’d also posted a parcel to the hotel for me which was filled with organic fruit, nuts, granola, water and tea (because they’d clearly paid attention to what I like). These are just tiny examples of how well they treat me and how much they do to make me feel comfortable here.

But that’s a quick summary of my orientation, I’m settled in here in New Jersey now and very excited about my year ahead.

It’s happening

I’m finally leaving!

Tomorrow has been a very long awaited day in my household: which is possibly the reason why I’m still not nervous in the slightest. I think after 2 years of mentally preparing myself and forming expectations I’m just so ready to start this year, so all I’m feeling is excitement. But then again, we’ll see if I can still say that tomorrow afternoon.

Saying my goodbyes has been upsetting though. They’d been really spread out until this weekend so I hadn’t been particularly emotional; until Friday, when I got long hugs from three of my best friends and I realised I wouldn’t be able to hug them again for a year. It suddenly seemed like a really scary concept.

The next day, my three favourite little boys and their parents popped over for a while and saying goodbye to them was particularly hard. They will all change so much whilst I’m away and after being a consistent part of their lives for the last 4 years, I hate the idea of missing out on watching them grow up.

Luckily, my big sister made it home for the weekend and I’m really grateful for these terribly English, autumnal two days with my family. I’m also extremely grateful that they helped me pack because it truly has been the most stressful experience since A levels. The number of things I’m being forced to leave behind is heartbreaking. But I’m finally feeling somewhat ready- got there in the end! I really hope I haven’t forgotten anything important!

For those of you who aren’t aware: I’m spending my first week in New York for orientation and training and then I travel to my family in New Jersey at the weekend. I’m staying in the New Yorker hotel with a large group of Au pairs who have come from all around the world and will then be going off to stay in various different states. However, I have been in contact with a group of British girls who are all going to be at my orientation (two of which I will actually be meeting at the airport and getting on the same plane as), so at least I already know people out there! I was speaking to one of the girls, before we got in contact with the rest of the group, because we’re going to be living about 15 minutes from each other in New Jersey, which is really exciting. It’s comforting to know that I’m not doing this alone: also part of the reason why I’m not massively nervous- I suspect I’ll end up doing a lot scarier things in the future, if all goes to plan.

My flight is at 4pm and lasts almost 8 hours, so I’ll be arriving at New York airport at about ten to 7. I’ve never been jet lagged before and if you know me at all, you know how much sufficient sleep means to me: so I can’t wait to see how that works. Hopefully I’ll be too busy and excited to notice. Also, I should mention: at the end of last week I received emails about the possibility of the hurricane in America passing over the east coast and affecting my flight, but fingers crossed, everything seems to be alright at the moment.

So, I’ll see you on the other side everyone. Over FaceTime, that is. Please stay in touch just as much as you would if we were in the same time zone, I promise I will be working hard to do so myself. Wish me luck!