Why did you choose this program?
I have been babysitting throughout high school and college so becoming an au pair seemed like a great fit for me. When I decided I wanted to be an au pair, I looked into several different agencies. Au Pair International was the only one to offer a short-term summer placement which is exactly what I was looking for. I decided to pursue going to Spain because I've studied Spanish for 15 years and love the language.
There are ways to become an au pair without an agency, but I am so glad I went through Au Pair International. They made sure I was safe, comfortable and paid well. The family and I both signed a contract provided by Au Pair International. I met other au pairs in Spain who did not go through an agency who had problems with being underpaid, working too many hours, or even getting kicked out with nowhere to go. I am so glad I chose to go through Au Pair International.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Au Pair International assigned me a placement coordinator who walked me through the entire application process. This included a background check, medical record, work experience, references, and more. The application was extensive, but only to make sure the family knows who they will be inviting to live in their home and trusting to take care of their children. In turn, the families also have to go through an extensive application process so I felt very comfortable going to live with them.
After I completed my application, my profile was sent to families and their profiles were sent to me. I organized video interviews with the families on my own and reported back to the agency about which family I wanted to live with. I was responsible for finding and booking my own plane tickets but the agency sent me their travel partner and I found a really good deal. Once I was in Spain, the agency reached out to check in on how I was doing. They also were able to get me in touch with other au pairs in the area which was the best part!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Being an au pair is really a cultural exchange, so take advantage of it! Soak in the Spanish culture while also sharing your own. Be open to speaking Spanish, even if that means making mistakes. Since many au pairs in Spain were from the United States, it would have been very easy for me to only make friends with other Americans. I really pushed myself to connect with people from different cultures and I ended up making friends from all over the world.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Every au pair has a different schedule depending on the needs of the family. The agency ensures you have time off, including evenings and weekends. I worked about 20 hours a week.
On days I was working, I was taking care of the children and teaching them English. We would play games, go swimming, read books, and more. During my free time I hung out with other au pairs in the area.
On the weekends, we would travel together to other parts of Spain. I ended up visiting 8 cities in Spain throughout the summer!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was nervous about living with a family that I didn't know. A large part of my nerves was about speaking Spanish. The family ended up being so welcoming that all my fears melted away quickly. When it came to speaking Spanish, they were very supportive. I was able to practice speaking Spanish to the parents and they helped correct me. I was intimidated at first, but I learned so much Spanish in just a week of being in Spain.