1. A picture of me and my boyfriend, Mike, taken on one of the happiest days of my life.
2. A collection of shirts that I stole from Mike and wear as pajamas.
3. My pillow from home that I've had for I don't know how long (I take it everywhere, I can't sleep without it)
4. A picture of my parents
5. A picture of my brother, Tristan
6. A picture my other brother, Robin
7. A few books by Terry Pratchett (my favorite author). He has a way of putting things in perspective for me.
The best security blanket, of course, is your family. This is the one thing that has gotten me through my first three months as an au pair. Make sure that you DO NOT leave home without a means of talking to your family. Skype is the most amazing thing ever in this respect. Make sure you have it on your computer, or if you have a smart phone, iphone, galaxy tab, or ipad make sure its on there. I bought a plan through skype for $80 that is active for a year that allows me to call any phone in the US (mobile, or landline, UNLIMITED) It has already been worth the money. Talk to your family as often as you can. In a country where you either dont speak the language, or you don't speak it as well as you'd like, you need to be able to call home. You need a safe place to be able to speak your feelings and frustrations. Being an au pair is a wonderful experience, but it is not easy. You need a safe, non-biased place to be able to speak your mind. Your French family (of course) wants to hear all of the wonderful things about their life and children, but the children are not always adorable sweet little angels. You need to VENT. You need to get it OUT. But DON'T vent to your French family. Call home and say: Mom, I need to vent. Those five words are LIFESAVERS.
There will always be times when you want to call it quits and just go home. But those times aren't supposed to dominate your experience. So through out my time as a "jeune-fille au pair" I will post the rules I follow, and the experiences that created those rules, in order to help myself (and all future au pairs) have the best au pair experience they can have.