An Au Pair’s Advice on Making Friends in the USA

By Joy Lo


Becoming an au pair in the USA will grow your independence. At the same time, creating new friendships is one of the best parts of the program.

Au pair Tammy, from South Africa, excelled at forming relationships with fellow au pairs, Americans, and her Local Coordinator. Let’s hear her tips on how to make friends while in the U.S.

Tammy
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Tip #1 Actively get to know fellow au pairs at Orientation.

The orientation week is a great way to start getting to know people, even though you might not end up in the same place. I was lucky, though! I met another au pair, Ashleigh, that had a host family in Maryland, and we figured out that we lived close to each other. She’s my best friend now, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Back home in South Africa, Ashleigh and I live about 30 minutes apart in Cape Town.

Tammy and Friends

Au pair Tammy, left, with her fellow au pairs. Image courtesy of Tammy T.

Tip #2 Ask your Local Coordinator to introduce you to other au pairs.

My Local Coordinator, Ann, gave me the names and numbers of au pairs that she thought I’d have a lot in common with. She also asks all of her existing au pairs to welcome the new ones and show them around. That’s how I met Silke, who was an au pair who stayed for one year. Silke lived a five-minute walk from my house. She left and went to Belgium, but I still talk to her every day. She is visiting me in two weeks!

Tammy and Friends

Tammy and Ashleigh became best friends while on the program. Image courtesy of Tammy T.

Tip #3 Say yes to activities where you’ll meet Americans.

I made a lot of American friends! I met my American friend, Justice, two months after I arrived. To this day, I still see him every weekend. With Justice came all of his friends. It wasn’t tough to make American friends. Everyone we’ve met and become friends with are pretty awesome people.

Tip #4 Get out of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet people at the weirdest places and end up having the best friendships ever. Friends are what get us through the lonely times. Just be yourself!

Tammy and Friends

Always say yes to trying new things and meeting new people. Image courtesy of Tammy T.

Tip #5 Create a friendship with your Local Coordinator.

I met Ann, my Local Coordinator, my first week in Virginia. She was extremely friendly. She made me feel comfortable and answered every question I had. Everything about her is so maternal. At cluster meetings, I always ask Ann questions to get to know her more. I ask her how she’s doing, how her kids are, does she have anything planned with her husband, or are they going away for the holidays, and so on. Ann always encourages us to try and do new things. She’s always telling you to explore and have fun.

Tip #6 Participate in your cluster meetings.

At cluster meetings, we talk about everything and anything. Many au pairs go to these meetings, but they don’t really say anything unless Ann asks them questions directly. I try to make sure at every cluster meeting to ask the other au pairs how they are doing and what their upcoming plans are.

Tammy and Friends

Tammy at a combined cluster meeting in Washington D.C. Image courtesy of Meredith Dedolph

Tip #7 Communicate!

The advice I can give to anyone is to communicate. That’s how you build a good relationship with someone. Don’t be afraid to share who you are. I didn’t have to share anything with Ann, but I wanted to. I wanted her to know me, my character, and personality. That relationship helped me have a wonderful time as an au pair.

Joy Lo Joy Lo

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the USA, then moved overseas to London and Sydney. She currently resides in Jakarta, Indonesia, giving her a unique perspective on working and thriving in a culture not her own. Joy graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Marketing and started her career in the au pair industry. She works on the blog and social media for the Au Pair USA program.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation