When I was here the first time in 2014, orientation was fairly different to what it is now. It was from Monday to Thursday and you did a whole lot more. I am very glad that that has changed because 4 days of sitting in a conference room, jet lagged as hell trying to understand 10 000 new things is a lot harder than you think.
Au Pair in America recently changed the way that they do orientation. They cut a day so you go to your family on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday but in order to make up for those hours, you have to now complete a whole bunch of online training before you depart for America. It is not difficult, though I did find it a waste of time. You do get taught a lot but at this point, it is my third time doing it so I was like meh, whatever.
So let’s talk a bit more about orientation. When you arrive at the airport, you get taken to a shuttle that brings you to the hotel. The hotel is very far from the airport so it’s a long ride! Once there, you go to one of the conference rooms where they will assign you a bedroom. You will be sharing with two other girls who are supposed to be living in an area close to you. It does not always work out but that’s the vibe. Depending on when you arrive. It may be dinner time already or late at night. If you are lucky and arrive early on Monday, I would suggest to take a train into the city. The train station is very close to the hotel and it takes you right into Grand Central Station. From there you are able to go pretty much anywhere. The Monday of orientation is really used to get all the Au Pairs to the hotel.
It is important to note that there is the AA course that takes place for some Au Pairs. It is only if your family has booked it and from what I know, you aren’t able to book it yourself. It is a defensive driving course for Au Pairs who do not know how to drive defensively and so you do that on a Monday which means you will get to the hotel on a Sunday instead. I have never done this so I don’t know anything else about it.
Day 2: Tuesday.
You will get a wake up call every morning at 6:30 am to wake you up for breakfast at 7:00. Most girls are so jet lagged that they are up before that. I was very jet lagged. I was up at like 5:30 every morning which sucked.
8:00 – 12:00 – You have your morning sessions. You talk about a whole lot of different things such as what you can and cannot be doing (drugs, alcohol etc) as well as what it is like in America in terms of culture and how you can adapt to it. You will also be given information on the NYC Tour (I will be doing a whole blog post dedicated to the tour)
13:00 – 17:00 -You have your second session which is all about smaller children and how to look after them as well as activities for different aged kids and finally all about social media with you as well as social media for the kids and how much they are allowed to have a day (that is up to the parents) but also what you can do instead of social media.
The day is done at 17:00 where, if you go on the tour, you will be going on the tour now and if you did not get a ticket for the tour, you have free time and dinner. My suggestion again would be for you to go to the city by yourself. I think it’s a fantastic idea. There is also a gym and a pool that you can use so if you feel like chilling, you can do that too.
Day 3: Wednesday
7:45 – 10:00 – American Red Cross Child safety workshop. This is a great workshop for you have taken. It is mandatory for you to do but it is interesting in itself. It’s all about child safety and what you are able to do in different situations such as burns, drowning, CPR etc.
10:00 – 12:00 – More talking about children and different ways in which you are allowed to reprimand them as well as how to talk to your host family. Good communication is key.
You will then leave to go to your family. Some families pick you up at the hotel, some family’s need you to fly to their state. Whatever it is, this is the time that you get to do it. There are shuttles organised for the different ways as well as people that are there to help you through everything so you don’t have to feel scared.
I hope this gives you more of an insight on how orientation is run. It’s a lot of sitting and listening which can be really hard when you are jet lagged but it’s actually really interesting and the instructors are fantastic!!
Let me know if you have been to orientation or are going and what are your thoughts on it.