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Like many people, traveling to Europe has been on my bucket list for quite some time. However, as a college student, I find that I often lack time and money. Studying abroad is an educational and safe way to immerse yourself in another culture—but it’s not always an option if you have to hold a job during the semester. Financially, studying abroad wasn’t feasible for me— so I researched other ways to visit Europe. 

Keeping in mind that I needed an income while traveling, I searched for jobs overseas. Many of the postings were for unpaid internships or voluntourism trips— things that had a hefty program fee. When I started to feel discouraged, I came across a website called aupairworld.com. According to the website, it is the leading online au pair agency in the world. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to sign up, so I created a profile and began searching. 

The sign-up process was fairly simple. You write a few paragraphs about yourself, why you want to be an au pair, a message to the families, and add a few pictures. After your profile is created, you can search for a host family and filter the results by host country. Within a few hours, I had gotten my first message.

The website is pretty informal. There’s no application to fill out— you just send a family a message. To be honest, I felt a little weirded out at first and questioned  the safety of the website. But, the more I talked to the families, the more comfortable I felt. After exchanging multiple messages with families, we organized Skype calls for informal interviews. During these calls, I spoke with the families about duties, pay, and why I thought I would be a good au pair— I even got to speak with the kids. 

If you are willing to put in the time and effort to draft messages to families, it’s very likely that you can find a job. I had more than one prospective au pair job, and it was up to me to decide which one I wanted to take. I made my decision based on how comfortable I felt talking to the family, the location, and the duration of the experience. I accepted a position with a family in Italy and began texting with them to make travel arrangements. 

My host parents wrote up a contract detailing my responsibilities and rate of pay. While it’s not required to sign a contract, it made me feel more secure about it being a legitimate job. In addition to the contract, they bought the travel insurance for the duration of my stay. It was up to me to purchase my plane ticket, but it was clear that would be my only expense. I told my host parents when I would be arriving and they planned to pick me up at the airport. My next step was waiting out the month until my flight!

During this period, my host parents and I kept in touch to make sure everything was going well. They told me there wouldn’t be many people speaking English around us. To prepare for my departure, I started learning Italian on Duolingo. I was a little intimidated by the idea of traveling alone to a foreign country— but was even more excited to finally experience Italy. 

I had a wonderful stay in Italy—I went to the beach every day, ate the best food I’ve ever had in my life, and even saw Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott in Capri. Becoming an au pair is an excellent way to experience your host country like a local, but it’s important to keep your safety in mind. When using the au pair website, be hesitant to give out personal information and end the messages if you feel uncomfortable. It may feel awkward to video chat with strangers, but this was a crucial step for me to feel safe and comfortable. Getting to know my family beforehand ensured I would have a good experience.

I highly recommend traveling as an au pair because it’s cheaper than studying abroad, you get paid to do it, and it’s a more authentic experience. Not to mention, it’s very welcoming having a family in another country. 


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