Iowa – the place for now for Elsa

When people ask me why of all the places on the earth I ended up in Iowa, I like to say that it’s a good question. Because that is more than true. And every good question comes with a complicated answer. Or maybe without an answer at all.

Little bit of an introduction would be good before I get any further. My name is Elsa (aka Snow Queen) and I come from Finland. I’m working as an au pair in Iowa, USA. And for them who doesn’t know au pair is like a nanny who lives as a family member in a host family and takes care of their kids and light housework. This is a one year program here in the States and for me almost six months have passed, six more to go.

Last spring I passed my matriculation exams and graduated from high school. A next step in my plans was – honestly, I as usual didn’t have one. Continuing studies right away somewhere didn’t really feel like an inspiring option so didn’t just staying at home either.

One Saturday morning I happened to do daydream surfing in the Internet. Going through some options for my future life – in my home country, abroad, shorter and longer taking programs. Everything. And boom, there it was. Become an au pair and start living your American dream. Working as an au pair had been a thought in my mind at some point, but what I’d been thinking was mostly like maybe a couple of months in Europe or so. Despite that and the fact that actually United States had never been any kind of dream of mine, it took me around 20 minutes to decide and send the very first application.

I must have been out of my mind.

In a sudden I were picturing myself living one entire year of my life under the eternal sun of California. In a sudden I were sure about something that just found its way into my mind. All happened so fast. I started a process of filling paperwork, collecting references and trying to find a host family. All the confidence inside of me was strong. It kept on saying this opportunity is for me.

Of course not everything turned out like I planned. Not everything was easy. I didn’t end up moving to California or even somewhere that I knew to exist. Actually first I didn’t even come to Iowa. My home for the first four months was in Montana. I were little worried and skeptical before arriving there. A small city in the middle of mountains and wilderness wasn’t exactly like what I’d pictured. But oh, how much I ended up loving that place!

My time in Montana taught me a lot.

Stepping out of my comfort zone made me to learn so much about myself. It made me to go out and take risks. It made me to make amazing new friends. It made me to make mistakes and take responsibility. But most of all it made me stronger. Facing unfamiliar situations can be hard, but after all I can proudly say that I survived. And I will survive in the future as well.

Changes, they really were to come. Unlike the plan in the first place it was my time to begin a new adventure in an other placement. Again I needed to let a lottery to be in charge. The result was as surprising as last time. The result was Iowa, the state of cornfields and nothing really special besides that. Big breath in and out. Let’s give it a change. Let’s keep my head up and mind open.

Iowa has been my home since the New Year’s Eve.

At the same time it is not too different to home in Finland or the one in Montana. It’s not a place of my dreams, but it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be exactly the right place for me right now. It wasn’t an accident to happen to get placed in Montana. While living those months there I got as confident as I were when I first decided to apply to the program. Even though it sometimes was nothing but struggling I had always strongly in my mind that this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m sure it’s not going to differ in Iowa.

So, back to the beginning.

Why Iowa? The answer is that I don’t know exactly.

Not yet. But I don’t even need to. I can keep on living day by day, trusting that this is the place to be for now. I can stay positive and see what is to come next.

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Elsa @ Facebook