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Au Pair in the Netherlands: Changing Hobbies & Hair

Posted by Kate | Jul 26, 2019 7:35:36 PM

When you’re home, you go through life and find interests and hobbies that make you who you are.  When you move abroad to become an au pair, sometimes you’re able to take these things with you, and sometimes you lose them.  Things like reading and writing, painting, dancing, yoga… they’re not too hard to bring with you or find in your new home.

But when the culture of your new environment as an au pair conflicts with something you enjoy, you might have to give up on it for a while.

There are plenty of things I like to do at home that I can easily do while being an au pair in the Netherlands through GeoVisions. The main one is reading (obviously quite easy), and I also have a huge interest in movies and film scores (Netflix and Spotify make that simple). I take time to write, and I’ve especially been able to work on my photography skills - the opportunities to be creative with photography are endless when you move to a new country, especially Europe!

However, back home, I was quite into fashion, hair, and makeup. When my hair was long I would spend time learning intricate braids, and when I got it cut short, I invented ways to curl it or make it perfectly sleek. I would watch YouTube tutorials for a daring cat-eye and hunt for just the right shade of lipstick. I was always on Pinterest, pinning outfits that could be combined from things in my closet or perhaps a new find from a sale rack.

Kate rides her bike a lot while being an au pair in the Netherlands  But being an au pair in the Netherlands, clothes, hair, and makeup are all about practicality. I haven’t felt constrained not to dress the way I want, or judged when I do wear makeup - technically I’m perfectly free to express myself through fashion, hair, and makeup just as I did before. But when you have to ride a bike in the rain, it doesn’t make sense to wear mascara. Or contacts, for that matter. And since I’m definitely going to get wet, I don’t need to fix my hair. And since I’m biking I might as well be comfortable and warm, so the cute coordinated outfit can go back in the drawer.  You see how the necessity for practicality creates a downhill slide that results in: “What’s the point of trying to look good?” 
Kate and another au pair at a HOO event in VolendamI think I would feel quite vain if I considered hair, makeup, and fashion as a part of my identity, but I do think they were a fun hobby I’ve lost by moving to the Netherlands to become an au pair. And for now, I think that’s okay. That hobby is kind of suspended for the time being, and I can pick it up when I go back home, because I’ve gained a new hobby - travel. As an au pair with free weekends living in a centrally located European country, my opportunities for traveling are much greater than they would have been back home. I’ve already seen many cities here, and I just spent a weekend in Paris for an incredibly reasonable amount of money, something I would have never been able to do in the US.

These are the kind of compromises you have to make when you move abroad. Of course, there are also logistical compromises, and compromises you make with your host family. But in some ways you do have to compromise small parts of your self and your lifestyle.

Your life is going to change - mostly for the better, but there will be some things you’ll miss.

But if it’s really worthwhile, it won’t be so hard putting something on hold. After all, what’s a perfect cat-eye when you have an entire continent at your fingertips for a whole year?'

Written by Kate

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