When au pairs go to Philadelphia and Amish country (March 15th – March 17th 2019)
If you are an au pair and you want to successfully finish this program – get a certificate – or if you want to extend in this program, you need to attend an US university/college where you´ll spend at least 72 hours or get a 6 credits (if you don´t care about the certificate or don´t want to extend you still should do that but if you won´t, it´s okay). There are so many alternatives where and how to study during your au pair year. For example there is a famous Harvard university in Boston. If I could afford it, I´d study there! The price of taking classes there changes depending on your current finished education – the higher education you have, the more expensive the price will be. If you just finished your high school you should be able to make it (6 credits). If you´re done with your university (like me) and don´t have about 5000 EUR on your bank account, you should try to study somewhere else. I did East Coast Edventures weekend classes on MassBay College. You spend one whole weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) or three Saturdays (that´s what I did) attending classes at the college and then you go on a trip. East Coast Edventures offers trips to:
– Quebec City in Canada – during the winter carnival
– Philadelphia and Amish Country – this blog will be about this trip
– Washington DC with an option to attend a Naval Ball
– Niagara Falls – you can choose if you want to go on American side or Canadian (I´ve heard that the view is better from Canada and there is a good nightlife which is missing on American side – I´m planning to go here at the end of May). And in Canada you can drink if you´re 19 already!
– Montreal & Jazz Festival
As I already mentioned, if you want to get 3 credits, you need to attend the weekend classes (130 EUR) and go on a trip (295 EUR). Your host family is obligated to give you a school stipend $500 (440 EUR) so it is not that expensive for you. And if you want to go on one of those trips – just for fun – you can do that for the same price and there´s no need to do the school part! Also you can take your friends as well (Americans too)!
So now let´s see how my trip to Philly (the biggest, but not the capital city of Pennsylvania) ended up!
If you ever go to Philly, check out those monuments:
Independence Hall – a room where the Declaration of Independence was singed
Independence National Historical Park
Liberty Bell – a bell of freedom – a symbol of American independence
President´s House (“Ghost House”) – a place where presidents George Washington and John Adams used to live
Betsy Ross House – Betsy Ross sawed here the first American flag
Elfreth´s Alley – historical alley with houses which were built between 1728-1836
National Constitution Center – inside you´ll find a museum of American history
Old (Historic) District
City Hall + City Tower
Love symbol which we all know from American movies
Terminal Market – market (food, FOOD, FOOD!)
The Franklin Institute – science museum and center of science research inside where is a huge statue of Benjamin Franklin
E.A. Poe House – one of the houses where Poe used to live for a while. He also wrote his short story The Black Cat here
Rail Park – if you´re interested in railroad park at the abandon railroad
Mural Mile – street art
Philadelphia Museum of Art + Rocky steps – a beautiful building with famous steps from the Rocky movie (I ran them up too!)
Pententiary building – the biggest prison in the US these days converted into a museum. Famous Al Capone and Willie Sutton were prisoners here.
Benjamin Franklin Bridge – a bridge that connects states New Jersey (city of Camden) and Pennsylvania (Philly)
So let´s go! Or…?
Day 1: March 15th 2019
It´s 1:15pm and me as almost the last au pair just arrived to Newton which is about an hour away from Scituate. At 1:30pm we were already leaving to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania which is unbelievable 7hours away from Newton. You can get there through a highway through Connecticut, New York and New Jersey states. Philadelphia is connected with New Jersey by a massive Benjamin Franklin Bridge which we visited on Sunday! But back to Friday…
It was 9pm when we finally got our room key and I could have go on a clean and nice smelling hotel bathroom! Correctly, this bus had a bathroom (the ones in Florida didn´t have). But you wouldn´t think about how difficult it is to use it and you wouldn´t think that you might be sore after such experience! I think this was some kind of punishment because I didn´t go to the gym today… I was in a room with three other girls: Laura from Denmark, Emma from England and Ida from Sweden.
About 2hours later, dressed up and with make up on we left to explore Philly´s nightlife. Laura (or Emma?) looked up a club where it said that you can come if you´re 18+ (Ida was 19 but later it turned out that it was actually 21+…). On a way to the club two more girls joined us (Rebeka and Matilda) and then we left.
If everything went as we planned I don´t think I´d describe a Friday evening… So let´s start from the beginning. Our plans started to fall apart as Rebeka and Matilda told us that they forgot to bring their passports or driving licenses. If you want to enter an American bar/club you have to show the promoters a valid ID. If you´re underage (under 21) and you don´t even have your ID, you can just go home…
Ten minutes later we arrived to our disco bar and the ID checking began. Emma and Laura are over 21, me too, we don´t know how Ida got in (not for too long though) but they send Rebeka and Matilda on a side… And suddenly they asked Ida to join them. And then we “surprisingly” found out that they won´t let them in. We split and girls decided to search for a bar where they can go even if they are underage and with Laura and Emma we went into the club… the gay club. Yup, we should have already noticed that on the street that something was “different” but since we were otherwise engaged, we haven´t registered a street full of gays. Nevermind, it was fun, we had a great time on a dance floor and on a way home we got a small depression because that boy in red high heels and short skirt was a dance queen and he was dancing better than all of us together. With a sad feeling that he also had perfect legs we bought a pizza on our way home and as we came to our room, we immediately fell asleep.
Day 2: March 16th 2019
After continental breakfast (I love hotel´s breakfast) at 8:45 we left for a bus-walking tour around Philly. It was more like a fast course but we´ve seen a lot! By bus we went through a historical part of the city, we´ve seen the Independence Hall (we wanted to come here on Sunday – please notice the word WANTED), Independence National Historical Park, Betsy Rose House, Elfreth´s Alley and Chinatown. We had the first small photo shooting break at the Liberty Bell. Good news about Philly is that there´s a lot of museums and galleries for free. For example if you want to see the Independence Hall you just need to register at the Independence Visitors Center and book your time of tour in advance but for free. Another amazing thing about Philly is that everything is pretty close to each other by walkable distances (I just don´t recommend to go on the right side from the Vine street which leads from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge – there should be a local ghetto).
After a walk around Independence National Historical Park we made another short photo shooting break at the Love symbol where is also the City Hall, City Tower and the Comcast Center with the biggest TV in the world!!
At the end we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we made the third photo shooting break and we made a role play – we were acting as we were Rocky and most of us were making videos as we were running up the steps! I think it didn´t surprise anyone that during the ride to the Amish country we were listening the song Eye of the Tiger…
Half of the day was gone and it was a time to leave Philly and visit the Amish Country. Amish are people who live a very simple life – without electricity. They cook their bio meals from the ingredients they grow on the backyard and animals they have (cows, goats, sheep, chickens). You won´t find here any driers but the laundry is hanging outside on a rope – just like at home. They live at the fields and instead of cars they use horses. They wear the traditional clothes (without buttons!) and they are really nice people. But what is the most important – their meals taste just like home. But I will talk about it later…
At the fields you won´t see any tractors or plough but a machine pulled by horses. Their houses are not classical American – wooden but made out from stones (finally some quality). And their peanut butter isn´t so gross as the American one (with an exception of peanut butter jelly sandwich) but it´s delicious, creamy and amazing.
And how would be a visiting of Amish Country without being invited for a dinner? Our tour guide was promising during the whole day a unique food and she was asking us not to eat because we were about to have a huge dinner. And I can tell that at the end of the dinner we had to open our belts or pants buttons after all the meals we ate. Homemade bread, butters, peanut butters, jelly, salad, potato dumplings, chicken, beef, beans, homemade ice cream and a cake. If I´m not wrong we all were asking for more food! Because this was exactly one of the moments when you feel just like home. Especially that meat and potatoes dumplings tasted just like from our grandmas!
And so after this dinner we made it back to the bus to come back to the hotel where we had Room party vol.2 and then party in the Philly (I successfully fell asleep at the midnight and refused to go anywhere).
Day 3: March 17th 2019
Last few hours in Philly has started and after another great breakfast and Laura´s emptying her stomach we left the hotel room at 9am to see the city because there were so many things we wanted to explore! Our first stop was Independence Visitor Center where we bought tickets to the Independence Hall. Unfortunately the first possible entrance was at 11am so we had to wait. We took our tickets for 12:20pm (entrance was for free) and meanwhile we went to see E.A. Poe house and Magic Garden gallery.
As we were leaving the Magic Garden it was already a lunch time so we were looking for a good place to have a traditional Philly cheese steak (must taste!). Not far away from us was a bistro and during the whole walk there we were trying to solve the dilemma: Independence Hall or Benjamin Franklin Bridge? The time went against us so we had to choose a one only. We knew we already had those tickets to the Independence Hall but we really wanted to see the panorama from the bridge… And we also knew that we should have rather go to the room where the Declaration of Independence was singed but it is just a room right… Let´s go on the bridge! We were really hoping for having a nice picture on the borders of Pennsylvania and New Jersey but we didn´t make it because of the time and at 2pm we were already at our bus which was leaving back to Newton, MA.
And let me tell you one thing about the cheese steak… We went to the Jim´s steaks and it tasted like a heaven!
The best experience at the end of the day…
2pm – Today was a celebration of St. Patrick´s Day in Boston and my driver – let´s call her “N” sent me a voice message – “I am drunk but it is so much fun here!” Well I was glad that she was having fun but I asked her if she is aware that she has to come to pick me up and she said: “Yes, yes, everything is under control.” I also told her that I will be there earlier at 8:15pm, not at 10pm. She said it is okay and she will make it.
6pm – N sent me a new voice message saying that she feels sick but she is on her way to the Buffalo Wild Wings and it´ll be okay. She will make it.
7pm – N has to make a stop at home. I knew that she was not going to make it but I can wait for her. She also promised me that she won´t let me stay alone on the street (do you remember as I was writing at the beginning of the article that Newton is an hour away of drive?) and that she will be hurrying up for me.
8:15pm – We arrived to Newton. N didn´t text me at all so I was checking out the Uber prices. It said $50-$60. No way. I didn´t have money for taxes that I have to pay not mentioning Uber. Suddenly N texted me that she was leaving home!
8:30pm – The last au pairs left home and I was talking to our tour leader the story of my life. She apologized to me saying that she can´t wait for my friend because the bus driver needs to leave and she has to go with him. She took me to the train station so I could be warm and safe. The train station was unfortunately closed and so I stayed in the middle of a parking lot on a bench by myself waiting for N.
9:15pm – Unbelievable happened – N came!!!!!!
10pm – I was finally home, took a shower and went to sleep. I was sleeping so well.
At the end I just have to say that this was a great trip and it was better than I expected. Even that waiting for N wasn´t that bad – I mean at the end she came! But next time I will have to choose such a date that doesn´t cross with the biggest party in Boston (straight after the Super Bowl Parade)!
Trip price: 295 EUR
Uber transfers 10 EUR
Entrance fees 20 EUR
Souvernis 21 EUR
TOGETHER: 383,40 EUR