Alumni Spotlight: Lea Marie Schmid

Lea Schmid is a 19 years old girl; she grew up in Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and graduated school in summer 2013. After she finished school she decided to do a gap year as an Au Pair in Australia.

lea on stuart's highway while au pairing in australia

Why did you au pair in Australia with AIFS?

Lea: I decided to go to Australia with AIFS because a friend of mine was an Au Pair in New Zealand with AIFS and recommended it. I also thought the price was fair. I really liked the fact, that they had the orientation days in Sydney at the beginning of the program and that you have the opportunity to travel in an Asian country after your stay in Australia because AIFS books you a flight that has a stopover in an Asian country. They also booked the flight for you and explained what forms you need and what you need to fill in.

What specific unexpected challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Lea: I think one of the hardest challenges is homesickness, I expected that but not in the way I experienced it. Being in a strange country with no one you know can be really hard. I learned that the most important thing is that you talk to people; don’t hide in your room. Go out and talk to anyone, most Australians are really nice and always good to chat with :D.

I also think it’s important for Au Pairs to talk with other Au Pairs even if it is through Facebook or Skype because almost every Au Pair has the same worries and feelings. Your family or friends back in your home country often can’t understand what you feel and why, even you often have no idea why you feel like you feel. I experienced that when you are talking to another Au Pair about your feelings and experiences they know exactly what you mean and experienced the same thing in their Au Pair time and that help a lot!

What is one piece of advice you'd give future au pairs?

Lea: Don’t be afraid to try new things and always look at the bright side of life! Sounds boring but that’s what it is. Everything I expected how being an Au Pair would be like was wrong. So don’t have too much expectation, be open-minded and always try to make the best out of it. Also don’t choose a family just because she lives in Sydney or Brisbane. Choose the family because you have this special feeling.

I learned that the region you live in doesn’t really matter as long as you have a good relation with you host family. So it’s more important with who you live than where you live! Some people might forget that. And always remember Au Pairs are like a big family so be proud to be a part of it!

What was your favorite must-have food that you tried in Australia?

lea in kings canyon while au pairing in australia

Lea: Definitely not Vegemite!! – but anyway you need to try it. :-) I really loved weet bix and mini weet bites, I had them almost every day for breakfast! I’m also an absolute fan of banana bread and shouldn’t forget to mention Tim Tams!!! They are the best sweets you can get :D.

Describe a moment when you felt exceptionally proud of your decision to au pair abroad?

Lea: I felt absolutely proud when I was watching the Christmas pageant at our main road, sitting in the middle of the inhabitants of Roxby Downs, and I felt like a part of it. I realized that I’m in Australia, that I will celebrate Christmas and New Year here and that I survived almost 5 months in a foreign country, all by myself with a host family that now calls me one of her daughters! I was proud that I’m a part of Roxby Downs, that the community accepted me as one of them like my host family did and that I helped a child during a hard time of moving, taught her how to ride a bike, was there for her when she was sick, helped her with her homework and had fun with her every day.

I realized that I can achieve everything I want and that I became an independent woman in the last months. There I was sitting with my host family watching the Christmas pageant in summer with a temperature over 30 degrees at 7 pm in Australia without any poisonous or dangerous animal next to me! ;-)