My Au-pair experience took place the summer of 2009 in sunny Spain for three months with two families outside of Madrid and Barcelona. I always played with the idea of being an Au-Pair when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona, that I really decided to make it happen. Did I have a magical summer drinking vino with Javier Bardem admiring the art of the city? Mmmmmmm, I wish! I did have an “interesting” experience. It was supposed to be with one family, but it turned out to be with two families because it didn’t quite work out with the first one. More to say about that in future posts!
Here are 3 things I loved & Hated about being an Au-Pair.
1. CULTURAL IMMERSION
This is a cool way to experience living with a family and embracing a cultural immersion. You get to see how they live, what they eat,experience their customs and traditions, and even get better at a language. Sometimes we think that everybody does things the same way, or we wouldn’t think there was another way to do things. By living with a family you can experience and see the contrast of cultures. I enjoyed watching the families get together for parties, watching them cook, and even observing what they did for a holiday or festival. You get to really experience the culture more than if you were to stay at a hotel, or hostel. Couchsurfing is a great way to experience a culture, but actually spending a longer period of time with a family is more next level. Ya know?
2. CUTE FOREIGN KIDS SPEAKING THEIR LANGUAGE
I always think children speaking foreign languages are super adorable, unless they are running after you with Cheetos and sticky, cheesy fingers which has happened to me. The parents were like,”So Cute!”. And I’d be like yeah, and running away from the little cheese monster! But for the most part they are adorbs!
3. THE CONCEPT/OVERALL EXPERIENCE
I think it’s a really cool overall experience to be an Au-Pair. An Au-Pair is one who goes abroad and lives with a family taking care of children, teach them a language, and perhaps cleaning ( This all depends on your contract.) in exchange for board, food and some spending money. That’s a pretty sweet deal! Although I didn’t have the most positive experience, I would definitely encourage my daughter (My unborn one! ) to be an Au-Pair!
1. TRUST ISSUES FROM THE HOST FAMILY
This was not from the first family, but the second family. If you have trust issues, you really should not be a host family because it makes it very uncomfortable for the Au-Pair and it’s just plain RUDE! The mother did not want me to have keys to their apartment in Barcelona. They said what happens if you meet someone on the street and you give the keys and they rob us? Really? How did you even come up with that story in your head? Also, she didn’t want me to use her computer when my computer crashed. Lady, I really don’t want to read your files. She didn’t want me to take her 2 year old in a pool at the camp we were at, which wasn’t even deep, because she said what would happen if you drowned my baby? We spent a month at a camp outside of Barcelona, and when we were finally back to the city, they wanted to go back to the camp for the weekend. I wanted to stay in Barcelona, so I had to sleep over the husband’s ex-wife’s house because for some reason I was not able to stay at their apartment. It was really weird. What is actually weirder is this mother was an Au-Pair in London and Sydney. I have a hunch she was sneaky and did things at her Au-Pair host homes, which then she might think I would do the same? Is she projecting her behaviour? Whatever the case, if you have trust issues, DO NOT HAVE AN AU-PAIR! It makes it very awkward! It’s not nice! lol Sheesh, we have to explain common sense.
2. HAVING TO ASK FOR YOUR MONEY
The first family was good with this, except for once, but no biggie. The second family was not consistent in giving me my weekly “pocket money” let’s call it. As an Au-Pair you’re not really making a lot of money because it’s not a job. It’s more an experience and an exchange, however it’s considerate if your host family pays you on a certain day and you don’t have to ask for it.
The first family was outside of Madrid in a very quiet neighbourhood. It was not a village, but rather an area close to Guadalajara where there were big houses! Although it was beautiful, it was not accessible to Madrid on a daily with my schedule or unless I had a car. The distance was about an hour and a half, or more to get to the centre, and I finished my Au-Pair duties at 5:00 p.m. This meant that I wouldn’t get there until almost 7:00 p.m. and could only stay for a little bit, as I need to be on the last bus which was not in the centre of Madrid. It was a bit annoying. For anyone who wants to be a future Au-Pair, really take a look of the distances and the accessibility to where it is you want to go. The second family said we were going to be in a camp for 2 weeks. It turned into 3 weeks. Then it turned into a month! When you are speaking to families, ask if they are going on vacations and find out exactly where you will be!
If you have any questions about being an Au-Pair, ask me in the comment box below!