I was an Au Pair for a year from 2014-2015 and then moved back in with my Au Pair family for another year, while working a normal job from 2017-2018.
Would I recommend being an Au Pair? Hell yeah! I had a great family, I lived in a great town and made amazing friends.
Living with strangers and watching their kids may sound like a drag, but there are many positives to this challenging experience. Here’s why you should also make the leap 🙂
[Note: Every country is different on how they regulate Au pair contracts: what ages they allow, the minimum pay, max hours and what is expected. I was only an Au Pair in Germany and can only speak to this country. Check the country you want to work in before leaving. :)]
This is probably the main reason that people become Au Pairs in the first place. When you sign up to be an Au Pair, you can choose (depending on where you’re from) to go anywhere!
Wherever you decide to stay and get accepted to, you will most likely have vacation time to wander about the area and travel to other countries.
Every family is difference, but generally in Germany you are given at least 3 weeks off for vacation and have to have at least 2 consecutive days off in a week. This meant that when I was an Au Pair, I had 3 weeks off in August, 2 days off minimum per week and if I wanted a 3 days weekend, all I had to do was ask ahead of time and usually it wasn’t a big deal.
With my family, they offered to take me on their vacation as well, which I have also seen with other families, but I chose to take my own. A vacation with kids just isn’t a vacation is it?
Language Learning Opportunities
This was the biggest selling point for me. I had just finished up my degree that included a minor in German and really wanted to put that to some real world use. When I found my family (or really when they found me), they also offered to pay for German classes for me.
This is common in Germany and may also be legally required of the family, because the whole purpose of an Au Pair in Germany is cultural exchange. It is supposed to be more of a meshing of cultures rather than just cheap child care (but that’s a totally different story).
I chose to take the money for the classes instead and just practice the German on my own in my spare time (since I am living in Germany and all). I had a lot of time to talk with the parents in German and especially the grandparents, because one Oma didn’t speak any english and the other tried to, but it was easier for everyone if I just threw my German in the mix.
It didn’t take long before I could have whole conversations pretty easily. You are always exposed to the language even if you surround yourself with people who speak your language. I had to use German daily just to get a ticket, buy groceries, go see a movie, or order a beer.
A few Au Pairs that I knew had never spoken German before and had basic conversational fluency in only a few months. Save yourself some money and just hop over if you’re trying to learn a new language.
People normally gather up friends as they pass through life, but as an Au Pair, you are in the special position to gather from other pastures.
How many people can say that they have friends in France, Indonesia, Austria and Thailand? Not many. As an Au Pair, you make friends from all over!
This gives you even more reasons to keep traveling. Friends mean that you usually have somewhere to stay, you have a guide and you have people who will come see you and you can show your hometown to everyone that you’ve met on your journey.
I can’t wait for my German, French, and Australian friends to come to Tennessee! Seeing your hometown as a tourist is the perfect way to truly appreciate and love where you come from 🙂
I believe that living abroad in any capacity gives your resume or CV that extra oopf! that sets you apart from the crowd. Sure, some people might have been working in their field while you were away for a year or two traveling, but they havent developed the skills that you have now.
It may seem to some that you just had a weird vacation for a year, but living abroad creates a sense of independence in a person that is hard to recreate otherwise. You come back more confident and more sure of yourself, because for the last year you have only had yourself to rely on.
You want to build character? Try going to the KVR (german residence office) at 0630 every morning for a week to wait in line for 5 hours, just to find out that you’re missing one more piece of paperwork. That will put some hair on your chest.
When I came back from my “Au Pairhsip” and started working my “real person job”, I was surprised to see how little basic daily life stuff affected me. I would see people all around me stressing about things that didn’t bother me at all, but I could remember a time when it did.
I guess after being stranded at the border of Bolivia and Argentina for 6 hours without cell service and having to call my mom in an internet phone booth to send you a document over Facebook or I’d be sleeping with LITERAL street dogs..makes a slight conflict with a client much more bearable.
Thanks for reading. I hope this has encouraged you to look into being an Au Pair or at least getting out there and doing some travel, seeing the world and meeting some cool new people.
Have you ever been an Au Pair? Have any horror stories?? Let me know!