Maybe you have stumbled across this post because you recently read my ‘Easiest Ways to Live Abroad’ post, or you have already thought about the idea of Au Pairing but you need a little bit more persuading. The truth is, when people look to move abroad, they completely forget about this option. Yes, you’re basically a nanny for a period of time, but you’re also a language/culture student who reaps all the benefits of living in a foreign country – and it’s an experience (male or female) that everyone should try out at least once in their life. Here are 10 top reasons are to why:
1 – it’s the cheapest way to live somewhere
Being an au pair is more of an exchange than an actual job. In trade for teaching children your native language and some childcare, the families will provide you with your own room (or sometimes your own apartment), food and pocket money. I say pocket money because it isn’t really equivalent to an actual wage that you have back home. But the hours are way shorter and when you think about it, it’s probably the same amount of disposable income you have each week as somebody after they paid all their bills.
2. It’s the best way to immerse in another culture
Yes, you may meet up with other au pairs in the area that speak your language. But you’re actually living with a family from that country that speaks that language and eats that cuisine. There’s no better way to get fully involved in the culture. Other options such as studying abroad don’t compare as you will likely end up clustering with other people with your native tongue. Being an au pair really forces you to come out of your comfort zone.
3. The process is easy
If you’re looking to be an au pair in England or Europe, there’s many websites like www.aupairworld.com that allow you to set up your profile and start matching with families that could potentially be your new host family. It’s free for au pairs to join and so easy to start connecting. You can also join Facebook groups e.g. “Au Pairs in London” where families will advertise. If you were thinking about doing it in the USA for example, things are harder as you have to apply for a J1 visa and become a member of one of their official au pair agencies in order to be paired with a family. You also have to have a commitment to one year.
4. You have the time to get a side hustle
Because you are usually a student, the hours you have to babysit are roughly about 5 hours a day. It’s a job that is supposed to tie in well with your own studying. Therefore, you have time to actually pick up another job like tutoring your own language. More often than not, families in that area are dying to have their children learn English and will happily pay you about £20 an hour to do it.
5. Your life skills/childcare skills improve dramatically
Becoming part of the family and being so involved in the little ones lives really changes your relationship with them. Depending on the child’s age, you learn quickly how to change a nappy, cook meals, teach English, coming up with creative games. It prepares you for life in general, especially if you’re thinking of having your own children one day. It also teaches you to be more independent (to go out and make new friends in a foreign city), to look after yourself, create a routine and keep track of your finances.
6. You make tons of new friends
We live in a world where it is so easy to connect with other people in nearby areas. Facebook groups are the best for finding people to hang out with. But usually, your host families have connections of people your age to go out with. You meet tons of other au pairs where you can meet up for coffees or nights out, as well as using your free time to explore new cities. Other than that, you actually get to meet loads of local friends, who more often than not are happy to speak with you in English and invite you to their own gatherings.
7. There’s nothing to hold you back
You can just try it out and see what you think. Sometimes, families are only looking for short term au pairs (for example over the summer), but I’ve seen people advertise for only a month. So you can try it without committing to a year of your life and just see how you get on. Find the family that works for you and give it a chance. If you really really REALLY hate it, then you can just come back home. As I mentioned before, it’s not really a job so your family will most likely be more understanding if you explain it’s just not working out for you.
8. You get to learn a language
Being around a certain language constantly will really help you learn it even if you’re not consistently trying to. You start to pick up words and learn how they are used and before you know it, your command of the language is way better than it would have ever been studying at a language school. Host families can put you into contact with local classes and sometimes they will even offer to pay for you to study. So by the end of your time in that country, your knowledge should have improved massively.
9. Host families start to feel like a real family
Sure, sometimes people don’t always connect. But if you were lucky like I was, then your host family start to feel like friends / surrogate family. Living with others really strengthens a bond or a friendship so don’t be surprised if you still remain in close contact with your family after your experience is over.
10. You get to teach your language and watch your little ones progress over time
Throughout your experience as an au pair and even after if you find yourself still in contact, you will get to see all the changes the children went through since you very first met them. To watch them copy your mannerisms and speak like you is a rewarding feeling!