Why did you decide to do an au pair program with Au Pair Link New Zealand?
Emelie: I had always been very interested in going abroad and working with children. So when I started my gap year, I immediately went online and searched for Au Pair agencies in New Zealand - which I chose because they spoke English there and I’d always wanted to see the beautiful country from the Lord of the Rings films!
Au Pair Link was the first agency that appeared in my search. And I thought they were the perfect blend of serious company and family-run business, which made me feel really safe and looked after. As soon as I got in contact with them they were really attentive, and their partner agency in Sweden contacted me straight away to provide local support.
They were very patient with me as I was in the process of getting my driver’s license (which took ages!) and really took into consideration what kind of family I would like to work for.
What was the most challenging aspect of moving abroad as an au pair?
Emelie: The most difficult thing to do by far was to move so far away from my family and friends. Everyone should expect a certain amount of homesickness to hit them at some point of their time there. My most challenging time was during the winter in New Zealand, when the sun was shining back home.
Luckily, since the seasons are the opposite of back home I also got to go swimming at the beach on Christmas Eve! Homesickness is something everyone had to face, but since there were so many amazingly fun things to do in New Zealand, it was very hard to stay down for long. I would just give my kids an extra cuddle and go down to the ocean, and it would disappear in an instant!
What was your favorite moment of the experience?
Emelie: .My favorite moment of the entire experience was getting to live in a real Kiwi family, be welcomed into their family and looked after as if I were one of them. Though I was an employee first and foremost, they made me feel like a part of their family and included me in all of their events, such as one of the children’s first day of school, countless birthday parties and family gatherings, as well as welcoming my Swedish family into their house for Christmas.
I now feel as I have a second family on the other side of the world, and it’s great being a part of the children’s lives even though we live so far away from each other.
Other favorite moments were getting to travel New Zealand during the several weeks of holiday I got through the year, and the opportunity to make friends from all over the world as well. As a film nerd, getting to see Hobbiton was a highlight, as well as getting to surf at the famous Piha Beach.
I really could continue talking about my favorite aspects of my year abroad for days!
Any tips for someone considering becoming an au pair?
Emelie: Make sure you choose an agency, since they will get to know you and ensure you end up with a family who will suit your needs, as well as make sure that the family is suitable for an Au Pair to stay with. Don’t be scared to ask questions when you’re speaking to the agency, or a host family, since you have to make sure that it’s a personality fit as well as a job you’ll be able to do.
Since you’ll be staying in the family’s house, it’s great if you share some of the same interests with them, or maybe you’ll get to teach each other something new and exciting! Either way, you should speak to the family more than once before you go out there and make sure you’re on the same page with how they raise their children.
Some people think it’s scary to think about moving across the world to stay with a family they’ve never met, but you have to consider the benefits: You get to stay with a local family, who have all the inside information you wouldn’t normally have as a tourist, you get to look after children and become a part of their lives in a massive way, and you’ll get to travel all around New Zealand, usually with other Au Pairs just as eager as you to get around and see what really is the most beautiful country in the world.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc.)
Emelie: My year in New Zealand has helped me in so many ways, most recently professionally since I now work for Au Pair Link in London, UK! Having had the responsibility of looking after three children, as well as my having travelled all the way to New Zealand has helped me with my CV and hopefully shown that I can be trusted and also be quite brave.
It’s given me loads of good stories to tell my friends and family about, as well as made me some friends for life. I’ve come back and work for Au Pair Link now because I think they are an amazing company who always work for the well-being and happiness of both their host families and Au Pairs. They were always there for me during my year away, and now I get to use all of my insider knowledge to help other people who want to go to New Zealand for the experience of a lifetime!
My year away also awakened my love for New Zealand, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to return to New Zealand to visit my beautiful host children two more times! I don’t think it would surprise anyone in the slightest if I decided to move to New Zealand at some point.