By Tisha Romanesco, Au Pair from September 2013 till July 2015 in Manchester Vermont.

It’s early in the morning, at Amsterdam International Airport, and what a surprise, my grandparents, both in their eighties, made it to come and say goodbye. I’m watching the minutes ticking away on the huge clock at the departure area, its almost time to say goodbye, and I’m desperately fighting back my tears. I know, that once I give everyone a last hug, and clear security and customs, it’ll feel as a relief. My big adventure, being a Au pair in the United States has begun. First stop will be Tampa Florida, where some relatives will pick me up, so I can spend the weekend at the beach and sleep away my jetlag. ‘Meet the World’ could be the slogan for the week of training at Expert AuPair in St. Petersburg, Florida. Young people from all over the globe gather here to acquire essential skills to be a responsible caretaker. After this week, we all fly out, all across the USA, and again I’ll be fighting back my tears.
The Walker family, from Manchester Vermont is a perfect match, and make me feel welcome, and at home right away. Off course there are these moments of loneliness, but I soon fall in love with Zoey and Finn, my host kids. The Manchester area does not resemble the picture of the United States as we know it from TV, in Holland. No high-rises, no congested interstates with honking horns, but a very laid-back lifestyle. When browsing around at a farmer’s market, where the locals sell their produce, I get to know the locals, and it doesn’t take me long to make friends. When winter comes I take up skiing and snowboarding, my host family is into the snow sports, and so are my friends, I count my blessings for living here. During the holidays I realizes I’m part of the family now, and that feeling is the biggest Christmas gift ever. The transformation from an Expert AuPair into a family member also means I’m becoming a Vermonter. Friends become close friends, and close friends become friends for life. This is also the moment I start dreading going back home, ’Just a few more months and a big airplane will swallow me, and take me back to Holland’ an unbearable thought for the ‘Dutchie’ as the locals call me. The Walkers feel the same fear, and together we decide we’ll stay family for nine more months.

And as family does, we share. We share happiness and grief, but most of all we celebrate life. We visit the snow in Colorado and Utah, and the sun in Mexico and Florida, and even get to visit Holland, where I celebrate my 21st birthday. But soon, and a lot sooner than I could imagine, time in the USA is running out for me. The enormous personal growth over the last two years result in challenging the Long Trail. In three weeks, I walk, climb and suffer the 250 miles of the Long Trail. The last week in this I’m accompanied by my host dad, and we cross the finish line together.

And now my suitcases are packed, with everything I, so dearly want to take with me, back to Holland. And my personal luggage, is packed with a life experience, I’ll carry with me forever.
The moment of goodbye is here, and I fight back my tears, a lost battle, the things I wanted to take with me the most, can’t be packed in a suitcase!