Tips For Your First Au Pair Trip: From Someone Who's Been There, Done That.
Hey, au pairs and future au pairs!
My name is Alice and before becoming an au pair, I was not well-prepared! I did not know what to expect from my stay. Based on my experiences, I’m going to tell you the tips and tricks I've learnt in the past that will definitely help you in the first few months of your au pair experience. I’m writing this blog because I want to help future au pairs to be well prepared before they leave.
First things first…
When you first arrive in your new home, it can be quite a shock living with people you barely know and spending 24 hours a day with them.
It might take a while to get over the homesickness, culture shock, and boundary setting. That said, DO NOT let that overwhelm you. Trust me, we all feel a little lost in the beginning!
To help you make the best out of every situation, here are some tips to help you with the beginning of the au pair process
1. Reach out to other Au Pairs
Reaching out to other au pairs when you first move is always a good idea. In my experience, the program usually gives you the contact info of the other au pairs that live close by. New friendships will increase the joy of every aspect of your trip and will give you people with whom to have those treasured experiences. Friendship deepens every element of your experience abroad, so don’t skip any opportunity - you never know who you may be passing by.
2. Choose a location you’re genuinely interested in, or at least somewhere with good transport links
You can afford to be choosy when it comes to picking which opportunity to go for. Spend some time thinking about what you want from your experience. Do you want to be in a city? Near the beach? Unless you want to be in the middle of nowhere for language immersion, head to a city, or at least somewhere with good transport links. You want to make sure the area you’re in has plenty of things to do. Making plans for your downtime will be difficult if you’re staying in a village of 30 people. Narrow your search down to a few key areas that you would love to be in, and be picky. This is your time, and you deserve to get the best experience out of it possible.
3. Discover what the country has to offer
Exploring your new home offers the possibility to learn more about the country and culture and meet new people!
4. Write about your au pair experience instead of calling home
The urge of telling your loved ones about every single step is huge. Instead, try to write down your experiences, either in the form of a daily/weekly blog or diary entries. Then you can share them with your loved ones to read.
Telling them about every detail of your day on the phone can take up a lot of time. It may also make you prone to homesickness.
5. Share your culture with your host family
You should share your culture with your host family by talking about your country, teaching the family some words in your own language or teaching the children some games or songs. This will help alleviate any homesickness and your host family will appreciate your efforts.
6. Spend quality time with your host family
You should spend as much time as you can with your host family, not only while you’re working but also in your free time. In this case, you will get to know them and you will let them get to know you.
The only way of feeling more at home as an au pair is getting to know the family better and spending quality time with them. For example, a family board game before dinner or going to the park together are small but valuable moments that you can share with them!
7. Have good communication with your host family
This might sound obvious but it is one of the most important things and is the key to having the best experience ever. Host parents are usually very busy but don’t feel bad if they don’t talk with you as much as you’d like. If you have questions about your work or your responsibilities with the kids, find the right moment to ask them. If you don’t communicate with your host family, problems can grow and get out of hand until they become bigger issues that will not go away.
8. Take time for yourself
Pro-tip: In most cases, hours, weekends, and breaks should be part of your au pair contract and many of these are dictated by law in the country you choose to au pair in. Be sure to read your full contract and understand these terms before you agree to become an au pair.
9. Enjoy this experience
This is definitely the most important one of all. This year is meant to be enjoyable, of course, there are going to be ups and downs but it is important to enjoy the process of it. This will be a year you will forever remember and where you’ll create so many memories from. Make the most of it, it’ll be over before you even realise it.