My first experiences living with my host family were all quite positive actually. Before I even came to Germany they invited me to their cousin’s wedding in the first week. I met the whole family, and everyone was really nice and helpful to me. Of course, the initial culture shock of living in a foreign country (especially one that speaks a different language) made for a few awkward a scary situations, but I just tend to naturally be a high anxiety person.
Ok, Tips for someone considering on being an au pair (I feel this needs a bit more of an explanation.)
1. Make a list of everything you expect out of living abroad.
This is actually pretty helpful on deciding whether or not you actually should live abroad or if it’s just something you’d want to treat as more of a visit. Even the most easily assimilated people struggle for some time in the beginning to settle down, and it’s sometimes made even more difficult with adjusting to the life-style of the family you’re living with. It can even be quite a challenge socially, considering the language barrier. It all depends on where your priorities lie, so weigh your options: Is this good for your future career, even though it might take up a lot of time? Do you still want to see the world this way, even though it might mean you sacrificing some of your personal privacy every now and then? Will what you gain or what you want out of this experience be worth some of the pains you’ll have to put up with?
Of course, you’ll definitely have WAY more good experiences than bad ones, but I’ve seen and heard a lot of stories of au pairs that dive right into this thinking it will more of a fairytale than an actually job. (and it IS a job) It just turned out this life-style wasn’t exactly for them.
Trust me, this could spare you a lot of grief.
2. LIKE CHILDREN!
Say you decide, Yes, I can definitely deal with the occasional struggle with living abroad, but do you fare well with children exactly? How much childcare experience do you have? Was it all positive?
I can NOT stress this enough.
If you don’t like kids you will be miserable. It’s that simple.
Unless you’re lucky enough to get one of those families that gives you your own apartment or something, you will constantly be surrounded by your host kid(s). Even in your free time they’ll be asking to play with you or walk into your room while your sleeping and wake you up.
Your host parents will probably make and respect the rules regarding your privacy, but kids will be kids. They’ll test your patience both at home and in public.
(Try calming a 2 year old down while he’s having a tantrum in the middle of the street, in a language you don’t speak. Not. Easy.)
Kids are cute, but they ain’t exactly a walk in the park. You’re also expected to be a role model to these kids, so if you already don’t really like them, you won’t be able to put up with some of the challenges they’ll throw at you.
Ok, so now you’ve decided that you totally get kids and would totally be great as an au pair! Time to do some of your research.
You want to ensure that you’ll actually enjoy yourself while you’re in your host country so you should definitely spend a good amount of time on this.
What country do you think you’d enjoy living in the most? Do you think you’d do well with all the cultural differences? Would you mind living in a place that’s a bit farther from all the major cities? This could help alleviate some of the initial culture shock if you have a good idea going into this knowing what to expect. Also, know what is required of you and all the laws there are to being an au pair in your host country. You don’t want to find out you can’t get your visa simply because you overlooked one or two details. Also you want to know how much you’re legally supposed to be paid, your hours, health insurance, ect… Stuff you should know so that you don’t wind up getting screwed over when you get there. Cover all your bases, yo.
Now there’s the matter of how you’re going to find your host family. Personally, I went through an agency because I didn’t feel confident enough to negotiate, nor did I feel I had nearly enough experience in this matter. I wanted some extra help, and it made me feel more comfortable knowing I’m being a little bit more taken care of. But that’s just me. Places like aupairworld.com could be just the right platform for you to find your host family. I wouldn’t recommend places like craigslist, though. That’s just a little too sketchy for my taste.
4. Find your host family!
OK! YOU’RE SO CLOSE! You’ve covered all your ground, and now it’s time to find the right family to live with abroad. Time to make another list!
Sorry, but this is actually important. Write down exactly the kind of family environment you want. Is it ok to live with a single parent? How many kids you’re willing to care for? How well should they be able to speak your native language?
Always skype with the family! Email is fine, but you won’t get as good of a feel for what they’re really like unless you’re having some sort of face to face conversation with them. You might find that there seems to be some sort of tension between the parents, or maybe the kids are running about like lunatics in the back. You want to make sure you get a good vibe from these people so that you’ll be more likely to work well with them. Do this at least 2 or 3 times too!
Remember to always ask a lot of questions. This not only benefits you but it also shows the family that you’re really interested in living with them and getting along. What sort of boundaries do you have? What certain things are you NOT willing to do? What sort of living quarters do you have? (NEVER agree to share a room!)
Be strong and firm about these things! It might be hard, but you don’t want a family that can’t respect your personal needs. Everything about them might look awesome on paper, and they might seem nice when talking to them, but they should want to help you feel comfortable while living with them, not constantly on edge. If this family doesn’t seem like the right one then move on. Don’t worry about upsetting them. If you don’t think you’ll mesh well with them then you shouldn’t feel obligated to be with them. Remember, very RARELY will the first family you talk with be the right family for you! Keep searching until you find a family that you know you’ll be happy with. You’ll find one :)
YAY!! You’ve completed all of that and decided that you STILL want to be an au pair! :D Congrats! Now get all the stuff you need together and go off on your new adventure abroad! With the right attitude you’ll really have an amazing experience!
Thank you for putting this out here. I was going to write a post like it but this is much more attractive!
if you’re every feeling down, just remember that life is alright on the rhine.
if you’re having a bad day here is a baby polar bear being tickled
Brochure arrived this morning. Don’t know why I bothered ordering one seeing as I’ve read every page on the website several times. However, it did have in a list of all the things I’ll have to pay for along the way and it has to be said, for someone existing on benefits, it is quite a bit. I seriously need another job and save enough up quicker.
It’s ridiculous how programs like these want young people to fork out tons of money we clearly don’t have. It’s not fair.
It’s ridiculous that you have to even pay, I’m an american and came to Germany and, besides 75 dollar paperwork fee, it was free. Even my flight was free. That’s not fair. Besides you’re going there to work, it’s literally like you’re paying them to work. It’s messed up.
On Christmas Day we went to a concert (after nursing my hang over for a while) and it was really fun and there was dancing. The second day of Christmas we went to a local famous restaurant. The food was HUGE!
Part 1: my parents and I celebrated my host kids birthdays and then went to visit Marvin, our former exchange student, and his family for actual Christmas. My mom and I made our famous holly leaf cookies! It was so fun baking with her. It reminded me of old times. My mom and I always bake together at home. There was so much food! Marvin’s Oma went all out. We went to church on Christmas Eve and then ate and then opened presents. Afterwards Marvin and I went out to a bar and met with some of his friends! It was a blast! But I was hung over Christmas Day.
i will never swear again
one of the perks of being an au pair; meeting up with randomers and basically instantly becoming best friends as you are both ultimately alone in a new country and can find one thing you both have in common.
My host kid’s day nanny was sick today, so I skipped language class and looked after her. It was fun and we went to a Christmas market, which she really enjoyed. She’s so friendly and happy, so all the old people at the market loved her and told me how cute my “daughter” is. But it was a bit stressful because of the crowd. So now I’m going to take a nice hot shower, bake Christmas cookies, wrap presents, and relax! :D
I usually don’t reblog on this page, but this was priceless, haha.
Went to Münster on Sunday! We arrived pretty late but had enough time to see pretty much all if the Christmas market. It was so fun with Elin and Keaton. They definitely made sure the hour and a half train ride wasn’t boring! We played “create a story” on the way back. Each person said one work and we went in a circle, unfolding a tale one word at a time! I can’t tell you what about because then you would heap worlds of judgment on us and rain down fires of condemnation( okay maybe I’m exaggerating a bit ;D)
The market was super cute and not too big that it was over whelming. I recommend it to everyone!
Skyped with my parents today!! :D it’s my dad’s Geburtstag! I sang to him first in German, then English. He was so happy. I love my daddy, he’s always so silly, wise and supportive! :) I’m one lucky girl!
Ps they’re arriving in Germany on the twentieth! Only ten more days! I’m so thankful to spend the holidays with them!