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5 tips for those considering an Au Pair experience abroad

Posted by Joy Harpham | Feb 5, 2019, 3:30:28 PM

Here are her 5 tips when one is considering to be an Au Pair:

1.) Be Choosey

Living in Paris France was always a dream of mine. Thus, when finally making the dream a goal, and the goal a plan, I was determined to manifest the best experience imaginable. Therefore, when choosing a foreign family I was diligent in assessing their dossier and then noticing how comfortable I felt when conversing with them. I turned down two families before getting lucky with the 3rd. Remember, you are becoming their personal live-in nanny, who is going to be a huge influence in their daily lives for an extended period of time. Their presence will affect you, just as much as yours will them. Be patient with the process and find a family that makes you feel that intuitive “click”.

2) Ask the Parents What They are Expecting of You

Like I mentioned before, you will be a dynamic role in this family’s day-to-day life. Upon initial conversations (not necessarily the first), ask specific questions regarding their lifestyle and habits.

Here is a small list of the basic essentials:

* Cooking- what times and for who will you be cooking for, and how many times per week. Do they have any dietary restrictions/allergies? Who goes out and buys food? How often and where?

* Driving- Stick shift or automatic? How many times per week?

* Cleaning- whose responsibility is it to clean up where and when?

* Laundry- will you be doing the kids laundry or just your own?

* Homework- are you their English tutor AND nanny?

* Extra Babysitting on the weekends, how much advance notice will they give?

* Ask for a schedule that details the timeline of their regular work/school week.

Be assertive in your inquisitiveness, you never know until you ask, and questioning your future environment will make you feel more prepared and confident.

joy23) Create a Bucket List Before You Go

This may sound over achiever-esque, but bear with me. Making a list of all the things you want to do abroad really clarifies your decision making on going through with this opportunity. Plus, when you are driving up to the “Departures” at the airport you can have your head filled with dreams of adventure and intrigue, rather than complete angst about leaving your home turf. Side note; learn some of the language before hand, LOCALS LOOOVE IT. Additionally, get the low down of the country’s cultural habits; you will probably be less confused by something in advance…;)

4) Defense Mechanism Against Loneliness and Lethargy

This gem of advice can be taken with you wherever you go! Remember that advice I gave about having a pre-existing Bucket List? That’s right, go do them things and feel good about all of those new firsts you never thought you would be doing a year ago! Get yourself out of bed and off of Netflix. Go make some randomly rad international friends and go laugh! Talk to loved ones on our amazing technological devices that can Facetime, Skype, whatever floats your boat! Trust me, they want to live vicariously through you, so give them a ring! If you ever feel alone or anxious, chat with someone who loves you, or go research what’s next on the bucket list and drag a new friend along! If none of that works, start planning for the future, what your 5-year goals are… Or you know, go out and treat your taste buds to something drool worthy, that’s always my fail-safe.

P.S. Netflix has its merits: is great for unwinding (don’t feel bad about taking some “me time”) it’s also good for engaging in another language à Subtitles and dubs ON.

5) Bureaucracy: Getting through all that red tape

Lastly, all the important legal documents you think you might need but don’t know for sure? Bring ‘em. Have a hard copy and a tech back up. Have patience with the bureaucratic process but at the same time, when you receive something in regards to EU residency, Student Visa’s, Bank accounts in foreign countries, etc. GET ON IT ASAP. Read all the information, ask for help if need be, research extra information online, and be 30 minutes early to appointments. Remember, you aren’t and will not be the first or last person in line for a visa application, and that there are people working everyday to help others in regards to foreign travel. You aren’t alone in the process; feel proud of yourself for getting into it if anything!

These are my 5 main pieces of advice if you are considering to be an Au Pair. If you don’t want to be a live in babysitter, but still want to travel, there are plenty of alternatives! Just go seek them out, and thrive!

Written by Joy Harpham

Joy Harpham is an Au Pair and Student in Paris France, mastering the art of navigating the Metro system with a croissant and café in her hands while listening to French podcasts. Joy received her B.S. from Linfield College in 2016 and worked for a year in order to have sufficient funds to blow on Travel, scratching that proverbial (and highly contagious) travel bug itch. She now religiously thanks her parents each day as she battles kids to brush their teeth and eat their greens thinking, “I wasn’t this bad, was I?” Aside from the tickle tiffs with the little rascals and hock a loogie French pronunciation practice, Joy spends her time sketching statues at Le Louvre or getting lost and making friends with strangers in les petites routes in Paris.

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