French au pair Elisabeth Hurel was an au pair for three different families during her time in the U.S. in 2012-14. She became most attached to her third host family, who live in the Pacific Northwest and have two girls, now 8- and 5-years old. A year and a half after she left the U.S., she returned to surprise her host family and caught their priceless reaction on camera (watch it here). For three weeks, Elisabeth stayed with her host family and revisited all of the people and places she grew to love during her au pair experience. Elisabeth was happy to share some details about her trip back this fall.
What was it like to surprise your host family?
Oh my, I was really as nervous as I was excited! I booked my flight tickets last December and planned this surprise during this all time! My family also had another au pair after me, so you never know if you still have this special place in their hearts because you live on the other side of the world… Of course, everything worked out pretty well and I’m already secretly hoping to surprise them again and again. HAHA!
Elisabeth reuniting with one of her host children.
Who else did you see during your trip to the U.S.?
I saw one of my best friends that I met during my stay as an au pair in Seattle. We got together for playdates because our host kids were the same age, and then they became best buddies ! We both stayed for two years, but I arrived in the U.S. a year before her, and while I was there, it was now her traveling month. So we did a roadtrip together.
What did you do during your return visit?
It might sounds weird but I just wanted to feel like at home. I just wanted to spend time with my host family, go to soccer with the girls, have a dinner all together at home, put the girls to bed. I did have a to do list, but I didn’t complete it! I guess it’s because I wasn’t a tourist in Seattle. It just felt as if I left home for a year to go to study abroad and come back for a short time. And because I know that I will be back, I can complete this to-do list later!
What is your favorite memory of your trip?
As we know, the best things are always the most simple. I loved taking the girls to their soccer games on saturdays; going to the theater with my host parents; chatting around the table at dinner time; wandering around the Pike Place Market and having a coffee at the Starbucks Reserve; swimming in the Lake Washington. I also went on a roadtrip for a week, in California and Arizona, and achieved one of my dreams: to climb Salvation Mountain. I have no words to explain how I felt at that moment—a feeling of freedom and unlimited happiness I will say.
Thanks to Elisabeth for telling us what it felt like to return to the U.S. to visit all of her favorite people and places! You can visit her blog or YouTube channel for tips on saving money in the U.S., organizing a roadtrip and how to make the most of your time as an au pair. If you plan on reuniting with your former host family or au pair, please tell us about it!