If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug but are questioning how to take the plunge into international travel, then setting off to au pair abroad may be right for you.
Simply moving abroad displays a huge sense of courage and ability to take risks. Surviving it shows your ability to adapt to and thrive in new environments and situations.
Au pair-ing is the perfect way to combine working, traveling, and studying abroad. You are able to have a secure job while advancing your abilities in a foreign language and taking mini-trips and vacations. Still not convinced? Below are five reasons to become an au pair and take you from hesitant travel enthusiast to eager au pair!
1. Get an Insider's View of Family Life Abroad
Traveling abroad and studying abroad will no doubt give you a taste of different cultures. However, it will not give you the total immersion that being an au pair will. As an au pair, you will be invited into the home of a culturally different family, an active participant in their traditions and day to day activities. You’ll be surrounded by everything from television and food to familial interactions and cultural etiquette.
Sure, it may be a shock at first, and may even seem scary to be jumping full-force into a new lifestyle, but the reward is great –- you will have a newfound respect for different cultures and be excited to discover more after your au pair-ship ends, or you will leave with a greater appreciation for your home country, customs, and family.
2. Have Help Paying for Your Language Classes
If you've found a program to au pair in non-Anglophone country, like Smaller Earth's au pair program in Spain or Guangzhou au pair center in China, you'll have the opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in another language.
Depending on your country and program, you may be required to take a language course before arrival or upon arrival. With some in country language courses, your host family may be required to help out with the costs as part of your contract (a reason why au pairing to subsidize your study abroad is a fantastic and creative way to save a few bucks!).
However, even if you are not required to take a language course and/or you will not be receiving financial aid for this, language courses would be a wonderful opportunity to learn a new language while being able to practice it with native speakers.
Most people have probably endured the high school language courses where nothing besides a few key words and phrases remain past graduation –- this will be a chance to finally grasp the language and improve over time by using the language with locals and your host family. Also, did we mention that kids are the best for helping you learn a new language?
3. Acquire Adaptable Professional Skills
Being an au pair is an awesome addition to your resume as you will gain skills that will appeal to potential employers. First of all, simply moving abroad displays a huge sense of courage and ability to take risks. Surviving it shows your ability to adapt to and thrive in new environments and situations. Not to mention these bonuses:
- Communication skills (even with a language barrier)
- Ability to work with people from different cultures
- Dealing with complex situations
- Problem-solving skills
- Time management skills
- And so much more
Not only will au pairing and gap years enhance your resume –it may awaken a new passion within yourself and lead you to your dream career. Perhaps you learn that you love working with children or, alternatively, despise it, maybe your chosen country or one you travel to is where you are truly happy and you want to explore a career there, or maybe it just opens you up to exploring all the potential possibilities that life has to offer.
4. A Year of Personal Exploration
Whether traveling abroad as an au pair or otherwise, your time abroad gives you the chance to truly discover who you are and what you enjoy. Moving away from your normal environment gives you a new perspective, and interacting with people from different countries allows you to view yourself, others, and the world differently. There is a freedom in moving somewhere where you can reinvent yourself, become a part of a new family, and try out a new job.
Not everyone becomes an au pair because they love children, and that’s okay -- you may have alternate (or additional) reasons. While the children and family should be a priority while you’re living with them, it’s okay to want to travel, explore your personal and professional options, learn a new language, or simply put your life on pause and reassess. Whatever it is, embrace your time as an au pair as a learning experience so you are able to gain the most from the experience.
5. Travel Abroad and Still Have Stability
Working as an au pair allows you live in a foreign country and travel while earning money, feeling stable, and having a purpose. As an au pair you will receive room and board along with a monthly allowance. Therefore, unlike simply traveling, you will be able to earn money to spend on travel, nights out, and personal items and, unlike working or interning abroad, you already have a set job and living situation. The stress of a dwindling savings and finding the perfect house/flat with the perfect roommate with the perfect rent in the perfect location will not be something you have to deal with.
Au pairing is great for those who want to travel and live abroad but is apprehensive about the uncertainty of it all.
Yes, you will have to budget and adapt to living with a new family, but there is stability for au pairs. Your family will be able to help you ease into living in a foreign country and your job and housing arrangement will always be there –- no bouncing around hostels and dealing with constant sketchy travel fiascos (although, those are a fun and exciting experiences in their own right and you can have them).
Au pairing is great for those who want to travel and live abroad but is apprehensive about the uncertainty of it all. Additionally, being a caretaker for children will be a rewarding experience and your time abroad will have purpose and a goal. This may be helpful for people who need to get their parents on board for either moral or financial support.
What's Your Reason?
Although we only listed five, in reality, the benefits of being an au pair abroad are endless! It offers such a unique experience where you can explore another culture while also sharing your own. It offers comfort and safety in that you have a guaranteed job and housing, however it also allows you to have the freedom of living on your own in a foreign country.
After completing an au pairship, you will have gained unforgettable memories through creating a strong bond with your host family, obtaining personal growth through conquering moving to a foreign country, and exploring the different culture, language, food, architecture, etc of your host country. Each country and program differ -- even your average day as an au pair will be different, so hopefully this article has sparked your interest in being an au pair, and we encourage you to explore all the options that exist.
If you're all set to start applying for au pair jobs, be sure to check out our Nine Ways to Make the Most of Your Au Pair Experience.