Winds in the East

As most of you may have heard, a couple of weeks ago I moved to a new host family. The east wind has truly taken me a little further west. A little closer to the cities, a little closer to the airport, and even a little closer to the outlet mall. Yay! However excited I was for my new adventure to start, I only realised how much change I would encounter as the day grew closer and as I started to live the change. A new town, a new home, a new schedule, a new car, a new family, new pets, new school, new neighbourhood, new food, new new new. But just as overwhelmed as I am by all the change, I am equally overwhelmed by gratitude. I am so grateful I did not have to weigh my bags before I left. That for sure would have resulted in a melt down. How does one accumulate so much stuff in just a year? I might have to apply the Konmari method, where you get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Sadly, I don’t think my tax paperwork counts. I am grateful that my friends and church are still close. I mean 15 minutes? That’s nothing… especially in the US. I might as well walk. Just kidding (again, I’m in the US). I am grateful that my schedule allows me to have some time off in the mornings and afternoons… to sort out all my stuff perhaps? I am grateful that I have a car for personal use. This is a luxury not all Au Pairs are granted. I am grateful for a wonderful host mom and host child. I am grateful for everyone who has supported me through this process of change, who has prayed that I find a host family close to where I was and who has encouraged me along the way. I am grateful for both old and new friends.

I would never have dreamed of having such incredible friends here. Although I don’t disagree with having friends who are Au Pairs, I strongly recommend anyone who is in the program to look beyond the horizon of what is known to them. Don’t settle in your comfort zone. You’ll be so greatly rewarded if you choose to discover more. Get to know the people where you live and get to know your community, so you can call it home. I have met so many au pairs who only spend time with other au pairs. Granted, it’s a safe environment, but having friends who are actually from the US is so much more satisfying in this cultural experience. At least in my opinion. One of the reasons I decided to move to the US was to experience life beyond the vacations here. I have always had the US on my heart. Maybe because I have been exposed to American’s since I can remember, maybe because the majority of my best friends in elementary and middle school were American, maybe because my church had always been influenced by American culture. Either way, most times I told my fellow Germans that I loved the U.S. they always told me it would be different if I actually lived here. Challenge accepted. And here I am, staying another year, because guess what?! I actually like living in the US. I’ll even go as far as saying that I actually like living in Minnesota. Did I really just say that??? Ok, so this just turned into a completely different post than I had envisioned. What I’m really trying to tell you guys is that I am thankful for where God has placed me and that I know that right now I am exactly where I need to be. There is not a hint of doubt that I should be anywhere else in the world right now.

Wherever the wind may be blowing you right now, I hope that you find time to take a step back and see everything there is to be grateful for. I’m sure we can all find something. One more from me: next month I have another trip coming up. Hint: it’s one of the 40 states I have not yet been to.

Love, Sophie x

Wont be home for Christmas

This year’s Christmas came with some very significant changes and differences. The most obvious one: I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. For the past 23 years I have always spent Christmas with family and as we got older and grew up instead of going our own ways and doing our own thing, our family would make a point of establishing and continuing the family traditions. We always sing carols on Christmas eve and commence the German Christmas cookie eating after our meal together. This meal has been the same one for years. We sit down amongst lit candles and decorations and read the Christmas story. On Christmas Day we revert back to our 8-year-old selves. Yes, we wake each other up playing loud Christmas music, we still unwrap our stockings really early in the morning and we can’t go downstairs until Dad puts on the Christmas tree lights and plays our family Christmas album. We still peak through the stairs to see how big the gifts are and spend the day in our PJs until it’s time for our traditional English Christmas meal. Turkey and the whole shebang.

This year I spent Christmas with a number of people. I spent Christmas Eve with my host family’s extended family in International Falls, the icebox of the nation. It was fun to experience their traditions and be part of something different. I sound like I handled it well. Let’s not tell anyone that I burst into tears when I facetimed my parents and saw our table at home set with only two plates looking very very lonely. I’m very grateful though for everyone who made me feel so welcome over Christmas this year. I was probably more sad about my mom and dad being along than me not being there. The most different and probably craziest thing I have ever done on Christmas Eve is have McDonald’s for dinner. One 6-piece chicken nugget meal coming right up. This obviously does not compare to my mom’s homemade pork tenderloin. But hey, it’s important to embrace change and enjoy the new. Can I have some barbecue sauce with that order?

On Christmas Day I opened gifts from Santa with my host family and was invited to brunch with Marisel’s host family. The afternoon I went to my new host family’s home where I spent most of my time hugging the dogs and building legos. In the evening I topped off the day by watching the movie “Elf” with Maria and Jeff. To the dismay of many, I had never actually seen this film until that evening. Along with The Santa Clause movie, I added a couple more motion pictures to my Christmas movie repertoire this year.

My favourite experience this Christmas happened on the 26th, Boxing Day, or as the Germans call it “The Second Day of Christmas Celebrations”. And that’s exactly what it was. Marisel and I were invited to Jeff and Maria’s for dinner and a small family gift exchange.

We put on Christmas music, wore Santa hats, stuffed not only our bellies, but also each other’s stockings and opened gifts. What I loved most about it, is that it felt like we were starting a tradition. This was something I know I’ll be doing again.

Although my New Year’s Eve was nothing compared to Marisel’s experience, I still enjoyed my evening out with friends. We went to dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant, I was given complimentary desert because my salmon was cooked medium rare instead of well done and we watched the ball drop on TV with more friends from life group drinking a little bit of bubbly and eating left over cheesy bread. Marisel on the other hand was standing slap bang in the middle of Times Square. Unlike me she hadn’t eaten or drunk anything the whole day. How can you when there is no where to go to the toilet? Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long to see that she was having a good time despite the lack of said facilities. No, she didn’t text me, she didn’t snap me… she was too busy dancing along to Mariah Carey’s preposterous performance… on national TV. See for yourself:

(you can forward to 0:47 minutes to see Marisel)

In other news: I have exactly one week left before my time with my current host family is over. How has time flown by so fast? Wishing you all the best for 2017. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and for you. I know it’s going to be amazing and I know that the best is yet to come! You’ll hear all about it.

Love, Sophie x