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how to make the most of your au pair stay

Making the most of your time abroad

Every au pair experience is going to be unique and special in its own way, but there are three things that I think are important to keep in mind throughout the au pair stay. The first thing is finding a friend or someone to talk to about your experiences as an au pair. The second is finding the right language learning method for you. Finally, and maybe most importantly, you have to find a balance between being an au pair and being yourself. Let me explain further…

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finding a friend or someone to talk to

When you leave on your au pair adventure, you leave your friends and family behind and you start a new chapter in your life. 

Obviously, you are not going to just forget about your friends back at home, but the truth is that during your au pair year, you will likely experience things that your hometown friends won’t be able to relate to. As an au pair in a foreign country you will have experiences and challenges that your friends at home just won’t understand the same way that someone in a similar situation will. 

This is why it is important to make friends in your new city. And, if you have the opportunity, to make friends with other au pairs. An au pair who lives in the same city as you will likely be able to relate to the things that you are going through. Maybe you can share a laugh together about how complicated the public transit system is or about how strange some of the local traditions are.

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Remember to be open minded. Most of my au pairs have said that the au pairs with whom they have become good friends with during their stay maybe wouldn’t be the type of person they would naturally be drawn to be friends with back home. This might be the case, but because you are sharing a similar experience, you have something in common. Now I’m not saying you will become best friends or replace your friends back home, but it is true that it helps to have someone to talk to who understands exactly what you are going through at that point in time and who you can meet with to talk about specific au pair situations. 

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girls, whispering, best friends
girl, biking, bike

finding the right language learning method

Learning the language is part of the au pair experience. For some, it is a top priority and for others it is just something to do. No matter what your reason is, it is really important to find the right way to learn the language. 

Depending on where you are living as an au pair, your options might vary slightly. The three main options usually include: going to an academy or language school, studying with a private teacher/tutor, and self-study (online or with a book at home). You will likely also get practice by talking to your host parents and when you go out on your own in the city/town.

One thing that tends to happen during the language learning process is a period of feeling discouraged or unmotivated. Don’t worry, this is pretty common. What I suggest you do is evaluate why you are feeling this way. Is your class not challenging you enough, are you studying at a level that isn’t right for you, are you pushing yourself too hard or too little, etc.

woman, burnout, multitasking

After some self evaluation, you should take action. This might mean searching for a new language school, changing to a different level, or finding a private teacher or tutor.

The absolute worst thing you can do is just let yourself get miserable because eventually you will start to resent the language and you won’t want to continue learning. You can talk to your host parents and other au pairs in the city and see what they suggest. But, please don’t give up! Learning a language in the country where it is spoken is an opportunity that so many people would love to have.

language, learning, books

Learn to find a balance between you and you as an au pair

Probably one of the most important things to remember is that you can’t forget to take time for yourself and take care of yourself. Being an au pair is a total immersion in the life of another family in a different country and it’s so easy to get caught up in that life and lose sight of who you are outside of your au pair life.

You will likely spend the first 6 weeks to two months adjusting to life in your new family and new country, but once you get settled and you feel comfortable where you are, remember to dedicate some time to yourself and the things that you love. 

It is so easy to get caught up in being the “perfect” au pair and trying to do everything right, that sometimes we forget who we were before becoming an au pair. Just like anything else in life, we need time to recharge our batteries every once in a while. You will be a better au pair if you take care of yourself and make sure you are in a good place personally. Enjoy the city you’re in, go out with friends, enjoy a movie night, find a café to sit and read a book, etc.

girl, woman, smile
mama, children, dance
What do you think?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. 

Is there anything you think is important to remember to do during your au pair stay? 

What was the most important thing for you during your stay?

Leave me a comment below, on Instagram or here.

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