Working as an au-pair, whilst an unforgettable experience, can definitely be overwhelming and stressful at times! Speaking from experience, here are my top 5 tips for surviving your time abroad and making the most of it.
Find the right family
Finding the correct family for you is vital and will make or break your experience. Luckily, there are loads of networking websites that help you through this process and make finding your perfect family really simple. Personally, I would recommend using AuPairWorld.com- the Direct Messaging function of the website is a great way to communicate with your family, but I would also recommend a Skype call or two prior to your arrival. And go with your gut instinct! If after a Skype call you’re not convinced they are the right people for you, say no and keep looking! The perfect host family for you will be out there, you just need to find it.
Agree on Workload
Once you’ve found your perfect host family and are happy with your choice, it’s crucial to make sure both you and the host family are on the same page in terms of what is expected from you. The family should clearly outline how many hours a week you will be required to work, how many days off you will be allowed, and also how much they will be paying you- these can all vary dependant on the family. It’s important to clarify these things before you go, so both parties know exactly what to expect from the other.
Ok, so you’ve made it and you are ready to get started. Things may seem overwhelming at first (especially if you’re looking after young children) but DON’T PANIC! Everything will seem strange and uncomfortable at first and you may even feel homesick- it’s important to realise that these are all normal feelings and definitely do not last. And communication is key- if you are unhappy with any aspect of your job or the home-life it is important to speak to the family about it (this includes problems with the children- they will most definitely drive you mad some days so it’s important to let the family know if the child has been misbehaving!)
Learn the Language
There is literally no better way to learn a language than living in the country and being forced to speak it with the locals! Even if your host family speak English, there are many opportunities where you can try your hand at the language. Talk to people in cafes and in supermarkets, and even try make some friends in the town! Learning even the basics of the language will make the whole experience a lot more rewarding and a lot easier too!
Whilst maybe not the most glamorous job in the world, being an au-pair is definitely one of the most rewarding. You get to spend a whole summer living and working in a foreign country, with new people and new places to explore! Make the most of it- get to know the nearby town and even catch a bus to the bigger cities for a day. Take advantage of your time there and your time spent working won’t seem so bad!