4th December: Overcrowding Starbucks

Happy 2nd Advent everyone!
And I’m back with another part of the 24 days to christmas countdown!

Again we’re going back in time to the 11th September. The good thing in being with an agency is that they try to bring as many Au Pairs together as possible. In order to do this, they arrange several Au Pair meet ups over the year. The first one for me was on that Sunday. They invited us all to come to the Starbucks on the New Oxford Street.

Since the meeting started at 11.30am, Amelie and I met at the Tube station at 10am. Due to Network Rail track work between High Barnet and Archway we had to take a bus replacement service to Archway and take the tube from there to Tottenham Court Road.
Luckily we arrived not only on time, but even a few minutes early.
Since the agency is located in Kent, none of them could come to actually organise the whole thing. Instead Barbara, who’s been an Au Pair for the agency years ago and ever since lives in London, came to manage everything. We were already 30 people at 11.20am and more and more were coming. It was quite hard to find a place for everyone, so we squeezed together and some even sat on the floor.

In the end we were over 50 people, I’d say. Because we were taking over the whole place, some customers even left. When nearly everyone was there everyone had to introduce themself. This was quite a hard task, because we were so many people and therefore you couldn’t hear everyone. During the introductions we noticed that more than half of the Au Pairs are from Germany, which made quite hard for us to find Au Pairs who are not german.
I don’t have a problem with german Au Pairs, but I came here to improve my english and it’s not a big help when I know I can speak german with them.
Luckily I had a girl from Sweden and one from the Netherlands in my group, when we had to form smaller groups to get to know each other better.

After a short Q&A we decided to leave Starbucks and go on Oxford street. Mainly to get out of the overcrowded Cafe. Outside we took a quick Selfie of our group, since there was a competition to win a voucher for the best group Selfie of the meeting.
We then went down Oxford Street to Bond Street to bring one of the girls to her tube and then we splitted shortly after.
Even though we had a great time and we made a Whatsapp group, we don’t really are in contact with each other any more. I don’t know about the others, but I just write from time to time with two of the girls, but sadly I haven’t seen them again.

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Needless to say that Esmeralda won with this picture! 🙂

Since my group splitted, I reached out to Amelie again and asked her what she was up to. Apparently she stayed with her group at Starbucks, so I went back there and got to know another group of Au Pairs. Sadly they all live on the outskirts of London, but they are quite the fun group anyway. Because we’re all from Germany we obviously talked german the whole time. Soon we noticed that two of the girls have quite a similar accent as mine and we started talking more and more with accent.

Around 3pm we then left Starbucks to go to Primark and after that to Forbidden Planet, which is a merchandise store for fantasy worlds and all the comic universals.
From there we went back to the Oxford Street and went to several small shops to then end up at McDonald’s for a small snack before we all went on our way home.

The next meeting I went to was two weeks later. On Sunday morning, the 25th September the big BAPAA Au Pair Welcome Event took place from 11am to 1.30pm for all London-based Au Pairs at the International Students House, London W1. There has been another time frame the same day for Au Pairs from all the other Locations. This meeting is quite different from the others, since it’s not only for Au Pairs from the Smartaupairs agency, but for all Au Pairs whose agency belongs to the BAPAA Association.
To be on time, Amelie and I took the Tube at 10.20am. At Finchley Central Station Marieke then joined us. Around 10.50am we arrived at Great Portland Street Station and had to walk to the location.

After we showed our tickets we entered the venue and had to put on some name tags. The room was divided by balloons in the different areas of London and we had to gather around the balloon representing our area. When everyone had arrived Tuuli, the head of my agency, welcomed everyone and officially started the event. Our first task was to get to know new people from our area and exchange numbers or Facebook profiles. We were also asked to take Selfies for yet another challenge. After the time run up on this task we had to move around in the room and find even more people to talk to.
The beginning part was really good, because you actually got to know people from your area. Of course it’s nice to get to know people from different places, too. But in reality you won’t really keep in contact or at least won’t meet each other again.
The trick with the second task was that even though you looked at the balloon and thought okay that’s reasonable close to where I live, the people there also had moved and suddenly you were talking to someone from the complete opposite of London from where you live.

The only good thing was I got to know a girl who already changed her family and we talked about her problems and what it was like, so she actually encouraged me to talk to the agency and see if I can change.
After this second task there was a small snack break where they dished Pizza and everyone could take a slice. I took the chance and asked Chloe from Smartaupairs, if we can have a chat and then talked to her about the problems with my family I was facing and told her that the Au Pair before me had some similar problems. When we came to talk about changing the family I asked her how it would work and she kindly explained the whole ordeal to me. But she also pointed out that I have to keep in mind that changing always has the risk that you may not find a new family within the two weeks notice.
Still this conversation helped me a lot, because I finally knew what I would have to expect and therefore could try to decide what to do now.

Shortly after the nice conversation the program went on and they opened the photo booth, where we could take group pictures with fun props. In the end we played people bingo. We all had a bingo plan on our program and then had to find another person in the room who for example has coloured hair, has blue eyes, is in London for over a month already and other things. Obviously you’re not allowed to list someone more than once.

After the nice game of bingo I got to know a guy named Jonas and his good friend Lisa. Jonas and I were chatting with each other when a group of girls asked us to photobomb their picture they were taking at the still open photo booth.

Soon the whole party was finished and we all went out to take picture in front of the venue and then were free to go. Since Jonas, Lisa and I all wanted to go in the same direction, we decided to take a bus together to Westminster Abbey.
I really like them, especially because they’re as crazy as I can be at times and even though we just knew each other for a few minutes, it felt like we know each other at least for a year already.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to see each other again for now, but we still write with each other now and then and both always asked how my search was going and Lisa even tried to bring me in contact with a potentially family.

I enjoyed both the meetup very much and I found new friends there too. Especially the big welcome party was really nice, because you not only get to know Au Pairs from your own agency, but from all the agencies who belong to the BAPAA Association. It’s also nice to get to know people from your agency to finally put a face to a name.
And even if you won’t find a lot of friends there, it always is a lot of fun and you can just enjoy the time together with all the other Au Pairs.

Thanks to Amelie and Marieke we still found other Au Pairs who joined our group permanently and belong now to my closest friends here.

Thanks to Smartaupairs for organising all the “small” Au Pair meetings and to the BAPAA Association for organising such a lovely welcome party for all the Au Pairs in England.

Vicky! Xx

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