Today we're lucky that @aupairizada, an experienced au pair, is sharing in our blog what the au pair experience represented for her, as well as a couple tips to enjoy it to the max.
Hi! I was an au pair in London for two years, and couldn't have imagined what the experience was going to mean to me. We often associate being an au pair with going abroad, living with a host family there and taking care of their kids. But we don't always think of what it means, to take the risk and go.
Let's rewind. I was 21 years old, had never left my home town, had finished University, and wondered... now what?
I saw two options: One, start looking for a job, accept the first job offer I found (work opportunities in my city are not varied) and see myself, 10 years from now, working in the same place, without having had the chance to know anything different. Or two, take the leap and do something completely different, something nobody expected but which (thankfully!) my instinct pushed me to do.
I didn't think about it twice, I signed up and started meeting host families. As soon as I got my host family's message, I knew they were the right family for me. We did several skype calls, exchanged references, and a couple days later I reserved my flight. (Please note: selecting the host family is one of the determining factors for your au pair experience. My recommendation is to do it through a process that's administered and controlled by a third party, to avoid surprises).
It was unthinkable that in such a short period those strangers who picked me up at the airport would become my family, that it would happen so easily, that I would become an older sister and best friend to those munchkins, that I would come to think of their home as my own, and that what started out as a one-year experience became two years, and the best of my life (so far).
I also couldn't imagine everything the experience was going to change me, in the best of ways, everything I was going to experience first-hand, the things I was going to learn, the people I was going to meet, and how much I'd grow personally and professionally.
So this is where I'd like to focus on, to share first-hand everything you win when you decide to become an au pair, beyond learning about another language and culture.
Being in charge of kids isn't easy, and taking on that responsibility makes you more mature. But it's not just that: living with them, helping them with their homework, planning theour routine, it builds capabilities that are going to be useful to you throughout your entire life (and that you should put on your CV!): patience, empathy, planning and organization, conflict resolution, multi-tasking, negotiation abilities, emotional abilities, etc.
Leaving your comfort zone and meeting people from other cultures can only lead to one thing: an opening of your mind. There isn't a bigger virtue, in my opinion, than being able to respect and admire that which is different. You see things from a different perspective, and become richer as a person as a result.
As well as signing up for classes, there are loads of ways to improve and perfect the language. You can use the time to find a part-time job or internship (which cna also go on your CV). You're going to meet people who will become part of your life forever. Making friends as an au pair is easy, there are so many ways: au pair get-togethers, language classes, facebook groups, your neighbors...). The fact that you're in a similar situation creates ain immediate connection, and you become each other's support network. I am so thankful to have met people who are now part of my life forever.
You also learn to value things you didn't notice before. Things like having someone cook a meal for you, or even shopping with your parents. Being far away makes you miss those things, and value them more.
As an au pair you find yourself in an amazing situation. You get to live somewhere wonderful and be supported by a host family, which is completely different from moving on your own to a place that you can afford with a starting salary. You also have a lot of free time, which you can use in any way you please.
I'd summarize my au pair experience as the opportunity to live with my second family in a city I'd always dreamed of living in, and that I never could have afforded or enjoyed in the same way if I'd gone alone. One of my friends describes it as a "constant summer camp," that feeling of being away from home, enjoying a new adventure each day and making friends from different parts of the world.
If you're thinking about becoming an au pair but are afraid, or unsure, here's my advice as an experiences au pair: fear goes away. And so does life, if you don't live it!
Get in touch with Amazing Pairs today if you'd like their support, and work together to find your perfect host family. If you stil have questions and are looking for a bit of energy, I invite you to follow my story on instagram, @aupairizada.
Ask me any questions!