As the planner that I am, I began preparing for the year I wanted to spend studying abroad in college as soon as I got started at the University of Oregon in 2018. Since then, I'd taken summer classes, worked and saved, and met with all my academic advisors to make sure I was on track to graduate on time. I had developed this killer (& frankly crazy, even for me) plan to study abroad for honors college credit in London in the fall, an internship in Ireland in the winter, and then finish the year with a semester of study in Germany in the spring. I'd submitted all the program and scholarship applications when the pandemic hit...
Flash forward a whole year, and I was finally able to leave the country on an entirely different path than expected. On March 13, 2021, I flew to Germany to be an au pair (international nanny) for a German family. It may not be the glamorous year of travel, study, and adventure that I wanted, but I'm back in Europe, practicing my German again, and doing something other than online learning from my bedroom at home. A fact that most in my position as a student cannot say. For this, I am incredibly grateful.
With the pandemic still not under wraps, you may be wondering how I managed to jump the Atlantic in the first place, and I'll tell you, it wasn't easy. Finding a family to au pair for was actually the easiest part. I had many requests from German families on the online portal I used and selected one whose dates, needs, and interests lined up best with mine. When I first considered the idea of being an au pair in fall 2020, the EU borders were still closed to au pairs outside the EU, but they've since allowed access to those employed in this form of work. With a job lined up, the next step was making sure I had all the proper documentation to successfully get me into the country.
Here's what I had to do:
- get vaccinated!
- not required, but I managed to make it happen, woohoo, yay for Pfizer!
- buy (flexible) airfare
- thank you dad for a year's worth of saved miles
- sign & print my au pair contract to show at the airport
- arrange my arrival with my host family
- register my flight within three days before flying for contact tracing purposes
- get a COVID-19 test within 48 hours before flying
- quarantine for five days upon arrival
- on the 5th day, I was able to get tested again and because it came back negative, I was free from the confines of my home & into greater Germany
Commence life as an au pair!
Nothing about this was easy, and I attribute my success to my pure determination to get out of the states and make up for my scrapped plans the best I can. There were many tears, much avoidance of homework to research my escape, and many late night discussions to make this happen and for that, I am so grateful to my support system (you know who you are). I've wanted to get back to Europe for so long, and now that I'm here, I'm still waiting for it all to sink in. It wasn't an easy journey and the task I've put in front of myself isn't exactly easy either. But as the woman of action that I am, I'm happy to be onto the next challenge, consuming all the brötchen (lil breads), and getting back into speaking German!