National Sales Manager Nicole shares her top tips on au-pairing in Europe or the United States.
Whether you have just finished high school, university, or you want to take a mid-career break, taking an au pair job overseas or teaching English for your gap year is a fantastic opportunity to learn through new experiences, leave your comfort zone, and get out of your ordinary routine.
I’m the biggest advocate for living abroad at least once in your life and completely allowing yourself to become immersed in another country’s culture.
Right after high school, I had the opportunity to do just that, and I would love to share my experience and top tips with you.
I was lucky enough to be placed with a wonderful family with 3 gorgeous children in San Francisco, California. I always saw myself as the big adventurer but the first month away from home was tough. Luckily, I had the best host family with a genuine and caring host mother who took her time to make sure I settled in nicely. After the initial homesickness, I started embracing my life in San Francisco so much that I stayed for 2 years instead of the initial 1. To date, it was one of the best experiences of my life and changed the way I saw the world and more importantly, myself. It changed my goals and perspective, and I will recommend it to anyone, at any stage of their life.
If you are considering doing an au pair job in the USA or Europe or teaching English in Thailand here are some of my Top Tips that might help you along the way:
- Try and do a healthcare or First Aid course before you apply, even though numerous companies don’t have this as a prerequisite, I was very happy I did do this before going overseas. It enabled me to ensure the safety of the kiddos I was looking after and gave me more confidence to deal with their scratches and bumps.
- Take your time to chat with the recommended family you will be placed with before making your final decision. They are interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them. You will spend a year in their home, sharing most of your time with them, so it is important to know that your expectations are aligned, and your values are similar.
- Don’t listen to the horror stories – Some people have unfortunately had bad experiences with unsuitable placements, but there are so many more amazing tales out there. I was so lucky to be placed with a loving and adventurous family that supported and cared for me during my time staying with them.
- Give yourself 3 months to acclimate. It’s tough in the beginning but once you get over the homesickness it can be an experience that completely changes you for the better.
- Work with a reputable agency. This is so important as the agency is there for the family but also for you. Usually, an agency arranges monthly get-togethers with other au-pairs, so you also get a chance to make friends from all over the world. Certain agencies also package their programs to include some type of study allowance that your host family pays.
Be open-minded and don’t waste a second of your time abroad. A gap year will give you time to travel, learn valuable life skills, meet people from all over the world and provide the experience of a lifetime. When in doubt just do it.
If you’re interested in pursuing opportunities to enjoy a gap year – whether it’s teaching English, seasonal work like Summer Camps or ski programmes, or au-pairing, chat to us or simply fill out our online form – we can assist in arranging your perfect gap year adventure.