Monthly Archives: November 2017

Handling Homesickness

Are you an international Au Pair spending your Christmas in Canada? Away from your family and friends? A bit worried?

Here are a few tips from us:

Homesickness is the “distress or functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.” It’s a predictable problem faced by most Au Pairs at one point or another. It frequently occurs when one travels and is separated from family, friends, and a familiar home environment. It may occur at the beginning or even well into your year. You may experience it multiple times, or in some cases not at all. Homesickness affects everyone differently; if you find you are the only one feeling a certain way, that’s okay – it doesn’t make you weak or less than anyone else. Everyone will have their own experience, whether it is a small bout or something you continually face. But like the flu, homesickness with pass eventually.

Some people may only feel a little loneliness, sadness or anxiety. Others may feel physical symptoms, like stomach aches, headaches, or even become depressed. These feelings are completely normal. Most of the time once the new surroundings and people become more familiar, feelings of homesickness go away.

Homesickness is usually connected with memories: food, music, scents, etc. Because of this, holidays can be an especially difficult time. But please try to keep in mind that this is a once in a life-time experience – you only get your Canadian Working Holiday Visa once. Live in the moment, focus on the now, and be open to the wonderful adventure that you have embarked upon.

In case you experience homesickness, please remember, this is an absolutely normal reaction and does not necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy your stay with your host family. Be patient! Give it at least two weeks. If you feel homesick, you might want to:

  • Share your thoughts and feelings with your host family or Au Pair friends by opening up a conversation about travelling.

 

  • Integrate yourself more into your host family’s life and suggest a family movie night or walk in the park.

 

  • Make yourself busy by creating a routine: explore a new neighbourhood, join a language course, pursue your hobbies or approach other Au Pairs in order to stay busy. Do not hide in your room.

 

  • Limit yourself to one call home every week as homesickness might be made worse by frequent, long telephone calls home. Most homesick Au Pairs feel more homesick after a call home than they did before they picked up the phone.

 

  • Offer to cook a typical meal from your home country which will bring your culture closer to your host family.

 

  • Make a “to-do” list of all the things you want to experience in Canada before you leave.

 

  • Make your new home a home by making your space your own and feeling comfortable to use the house like any other family member (if you’re hungry go get a snack, if you need to do laundry don’t be afraid to ask how to use the machine).

 

  • Talk to those in similar situations and you’ll find that being homesick is just a part of being abroad and it is manageable.

 

  • Write in a journal daily to help clear any thoughts you might have and look back to see how much you have grown throughout your time in Canada.

 

  • Reach out to your local coordinator with whom you can talk about homesickness or other problems.

During your year in Canada there will be times when it is easy, and times when it is hard. Working through the difficult times will make you a stronger person and you will gain so much from this experience! Try your best to be proactive and focus on the positive aspects of the situation. It’s okay to be homesick, but don’t revel in it – find something to do to help you get through it so you can get back to making the most of your time in Canada!

Au Pair vs. In-Home Caregiver

We’ve put together a side-by-side comparison between Au Pairs and In-Home Caregivers. Check it out to see which form of childcare best suits your family’s needs.

Au Pair In-home Caregiver
•   Must have childcare experience, preferably outside the family such as babysitting, tutoring, completing an internship in a daycare/preschool •    Many have a minimum of 1 year of full-time work experience as nanny, an early childhood education and 1 year of work experience in the according field, or a 6 month care giving training course
•   Main responsibility: childcare

•   Assists with child-related household duties including meal preparation, doing the children’s laundry, and helping to keep their rooms clean

 

•    Main responsibility: childcare and housekeeping

•     Always live-in •    Option to live-in or live-out
•     10 – 12 months, sometimes 6 months (Dec-Mar) •    2 years
•     Between 18-29 years of age •    No age limit, majority are between 25-45 years
•   High school graduates (ECE certificate for Au Pair Professionals) •    Usually high school or post-secondary education in nursing, midwifery or teaching
 

•     No additional costs

•    Family must pay for the caregiver’s roundtrip flight as well as healthcare coverage until eligible for provincial health coverage and LMIA costs.
•   Applicant must complete a medical exam and police clearance(s) prior to entering Canada •    Applicant must complete a medical exam and police clearance(s) prior to entering Canada
•   Comes to Canada for a “cultural exchange” – more like a big sister to your children •    An In-home Caregiver may also offer in-home elderly care or disabled adult care
•     Has a driver’s license •    Rarely has a driver’s license
•   Proficient in English as a second language or native speaker •    Proficient in English as a second language
•     Au Pair is paid minimum wage •    Caregiver is paid median prevailing wage
•   Room and board are deductible, the amount depends on province •    Room and board cannot be deducted
•   Working hours range from between 25 – 44 hours per week •    Caregiver works full-time between 40 – 48 hours
 

•   No additional paperwork needs to be submitted to Canadian Embassy or Service Canada

•    Canadian Embassy processing the application requires potential employers’ Notice of Assessments to determine eligibility, letter from employer, Proof of Identity and Address
•     No Labour Market Impact Assessment required •    Labour Market Impact Assessment is required
•     No advertising required •    Advertising using at least four different methods of recruitment
•     Processing times range between 5 – 16 weeks •    Processing times range between 6 – 9 months

Interested in getting an Au Pair or In-Home Caregiver? Contact us as 1-800-820-8308 or [email protected]

Where to Au Pair – Kamloops

Located at the confluence of the South and North Thompson rivers in BC’s semi-arid grasslands, Kamloops takes its name from the Shuswap word “Tk’emlups,” meaning “meeting place.” Today it is the junction of three highways, two national rail lines, and Rocky Mountaineer.  Kamloops is bustling with activity and with more than 2000 hours of sunshine each year, Kamloops has one of the most desirable climates in Canada – dry, warm summers and short, mild winters with a touch of snow.  Spend your year as an Au Pair discovering all Kamloops has to offer!

Enjoy the rich cultural heritage of Kamloops’ early inhabitants

Kamloops takes pride in its First Nations culture, represented in various cultural sites throughout the city, and in music festivals and events held annually. The Shuswap of the Interior Salish Nation were the first inhabitants of the Kamloops area, nomadically traveling according to seasonal fishing and hunting. Today’s 1,000-member Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, direct descendants of these nomadic peoples, have a close and integrated relationship with the city and its residents. Experience this rich cultural relationship today at the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park exploring its extensive photograph and artifact collection, at the annual Kamloopa Pow Wow enjoying traditional First Nations’ performances and art, or at St. Joseph’s Church, a national historic site.

Play hard in the summer sun!

Sandstone canyons, grasslands and evergreen timberlands play host to incredible hiking, mountain biking and camping. Get your host kids outside and soaking up the vitamin D as you bike/hike through the week; then on your days off, arrange a customized wildlife experience with the Au Pairs in your area at ACT Adventures: maybe you’d like a two-day hiking/camping adventure in the mountains to see majestic lakes, glaciers & waterfalls, a day trip in the forest in search of elusive wild animals, like bears & deer, or include zip lining and bungee jumping for an adrenaline infused adventure! Kamloops is also home to more than 100 lakes and two major rivers provide great fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting and tubing. For a more relaxing option, book a getaway at the Campbell Hill Guest Ranch and leave your worries behind as you bond with the horses, ride through the beautiful back country, and settle into perfect harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Check out the theatre scene at Western Canada Theatre Company

Through the efforts of committed volunteer Board members and dedicated, talented artists, Western Canada Theatre has developed into one of the largest producing theatres in British Columbia. The company produces a professional five play main stage season, a two play second stage series, and hosts one to two alternative pieces during the season. Their mandate is to provide the Kamloops community with challenging professional live theatre. To entertain, educate, enrich, and interact with the cultural mosaic of its community. Western Canada Theatre frequently supports Canadian material and for their 42nd season celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday with stories inspired by the people of Canada. Spend an evening lost in the majesty of theatre as you experience the Canadian culture through the art of performance.

Bundle up and celebrate the winter season!

Instead of taking part in the same yearly traditions, take advantage of this once-in-a-life-time opportunity and see how Canadians enjoy the Christmas holidays: make some noise at a Blazers hockey game – see what all the fuss is about Canada’s favourite sport, join your host family at the Santa Claus parade and visit the big man in red, celebrate the season at the Welcome Winter Block Party – this year’s theme is Flannel & Frost 😉 or check out the Holiday Kick-Off Weekend which boasts festive lights, ice-carving, gingerbread houses, an Artisan Market, and authentic maple taffy made right on the snow! Pick your favourite Canadian traditions and share them with your family when you return home.

With so much to see and do, Kamloops will keep you exploring the entire year round and find a special place in your heart as your home away from home. By the time your stay as an Au Pair reaches an end, you will have an abundance of stories to share and unbeatable memories of your amazing experience in Canada!

Books to Read with your Host Kids!

 

 

 

Inspiring a love of stories is one of the most helpful tools you can give to kids as they learn to read.  Mastering literacy is a big step to independence in children’s development and it’s no easy task. There is often a large amount of pressure for kids as they begin to practice this new skill, which can act as a deterrent.

Because of this it’s extremely important to make reading fun! Take the time to sit down with your host kids and make reading time quality time. Engage them in the story and have them help you as you read it together. It’s a great opportunity to work on your English as well! If children view stories as something exciting they get to share with you, they’ll enjoy practicing instead of grumbling and complaining about how difficult it is and getting frustrated by the amount of work they have to do.

If you can nurture their love of reading as they grow, steadily choosing material that will keep them engaged, soon they’ll be picking out books they can read on their own, and happily do so. Even if reading is not a hobby they continue later on in their lives, it’s one of the best building blocks you can give children when it comes to their education and imagination – few things inspire and challenge quite like a good book!

Encourage your host kids to explore their school library and even talk to their librarian about what books they are interested in. When they get home from school, set aside a time when you can snuggle up on the couch and read the books they checked out that week.

Another option is the city library. Plan a weekly trip – this is also a great place to connect with other Au Pairs or meet up with your host kids’ friends. Look up the library online and see if they have scheduled story time or music/playtime (if you have younger host kids). Check out a few books for the week and you can also teach your host kids about borrowing and returning.

If you’re at a loss for good reading material, check out some of these great reads:

5 years

Not a Box

No David

Elephant and Piggie

Stuck

Peanut Butter and Cupcake

6 years

The Paper Bag Princess

You Are Special

The Lorax

Strega Nona

The Wartville Wizard

7 years

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Frog Prince Continued

Cinder Edna

Junnie B Jones

Fantastic Mr. Fox

8 years

Horrible Harry

Matilda

Toad Rage

Dragon Rider

Wayside School is Falling Down

9 years

Charlotte’s Web

The Chronicles of Narnia

Magyk

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Spiderwick Chronicles

10 years

The Circle of Magic

Holes

Fablehaven

Ella Enchanted

Inkheart

11 years

Harry Potter

Ender’s Game

The Hobbit

Percy Jackson

Song of the Lioness

Where to Au Pair – St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, is the oldest and most easterly city in North America. Bursting with charisma and culture, St. John’s has the homey feel of a village, with a contemporary, sophisticated edge. As an Au Pair in Newfoundland, you will meet some of the friendliest Canadians, explore the amazing east coast, and discover the vibrant history of the first British colonies in Canada.

Walk the oldest streets of the New World

Newfoundland has a unique culture as it is the product of aboriginal heritage – from groups such as the Maritime Archaic Indians and the Palaeo-Eskimos, and European culture brought over in the late 1400s and early 1500s. One of the first explorers to land in Newfoundland after the time of the Vikings was John Cabot, in 1497. He began to visit annually and fish the rich waters off the coast, and eventually French and English colonies were set up – including St. John’s. Its streets and architecture might be the best expression you’ll see of the creative spirit that founded the province.

Hike to Cabot Tower

At the top of Signal Hill you’ll find the iconic Cabot Tower, a castle-like structure built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Construction of the tower began in 1898 and once completed, the building was used as a lookout for incoming ships. It was here in 1901 that Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message: the letter “S” in morse code sent from the UK. Today however, it is the centre of the Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada. Schedule a day trip with your host family to explore this beautiful location, and don’t forget your camera as the captivating view from the tower can’t be beat!

Spend a week on George Street!

George Street is located in the heart of downtown St. John’s and boasts the most bars and pubs per square foot of any street in North America. There are three main festivals that take place on George Street throughout the year, including Canada’s BIG Birthday Bash, George Street Mardi Gras, and The George Street Festival – a must attend event for tourists and residents alike with over 50, 000 people partying on the “biggest little street in North America” for 7 straight day!” George Street is the home of St. John’s nightlife, and includes some of the most popular award-winning pubs, restaurants, and live music venues in the province. If you’re looking for an evening out with the Au Pairs in your area, this is the place to go!

Experience the breathtaking landscape

Canada is a beautiful and bountiful playground for those with a love of the outdoors, especially in St. John’s Newfoundland! The east coast is brimming with activities designed to help you get the most out of discovering this awesome country. Take a three in one trip on the water to view Icebergs, whales, and birds as they migrate for the season. Shred some powder on Marble Mountain – renowned for the best skiing on Canada’s east coast! Relax with rod and reel, and maybe bring home something fresh from the sea for your supper as you experience Newfoundland’s culture first hand through fishing. Or check out some of the oldest rocks and fossils on the planet while taking a tour through mines, learning about volcanoes and glaciers, and discovering an extinct marine arthropod that made the area famous. These are just some of the unforgettable experiences you will have as an Au Pair in St. John’s.

If you’re hoping to spend your Au Pair year discovering streets naturally carved by horse and carriage, passing colourful jellybean row houses lining the sides of steep hills and hidden alleyways, and listening to tales – some tall, some small, told by lively and courteous people always happy to make friends, Newfoundland is the place for you. St. John’s is a city like no other!