Au pairs bring a unique cultural experience to their host families. They may have traditions and customs that are different from your own, and they will likely use a different language when communicating with you.
Au pairs must understand this and be prepared for homesickness and other challenges. It’s also essential for au pairs to make a list of “non-negotiables” before finding a family and interview families to ensure they are a good match.
How to Find a Host Family
A host family is a family who agrees to have an au pair live in their home for a set period and treat her like a member of the family. They usually provide room and board and may include the au pair in family activities. In return, the au pair helps with childcare and light housework.
When finding a host family, it’s essential to focus on the family’s personality and culture rather than just their location. Many au pairs are tempted to pick families close to home, but this shouldn’t be your only consideration. America has fantastic cities and states; plenty of families would love to host an au pair.
Once you’ve shortlisted a few families, it’s essential to have a live video interview to get to know them. This will show you whether they’re the right fit for you. Then, ask them any questions you might have – such as their schedule or how they raise their children.
When having a video call, you must respect your hosts and avoid asking questions that can be perceived as rude or insensitive. Preparing general questions, such as what to expect during your first week in their home, is also a good idea.
What to Expect from Yourself
If you’ve been dreaming of working abroad, becoming an au pair can be an excellent opportunity to make that happen. However, before you jump on a plane to start your adventure, you need to be prepared for what it will be like. This includes having a valid passport and ensuring you are eligible to work in your destination of choice. Additionally, most jobs that involve children require you to pass a criminal background check.
Getting ready for your au pair experience and learning what is au pair program means, considering what type of family you want to live with and what daily duties you’d prefer to perform. Narrowing this down will help you find your ideal host family more quickly. It’s also helpful to consider whether you prefer living in a city or a small village and what activities appeal to you.
Becoming an au pair is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel, learn about another culture, and develop self-confidence and independence. While it will be challenging at times, it’s a fantastic way to see the world and meet people from all over the globe.
What to Expect from Your Host Family
Your host family will be a considerable part of your experience abroad, so learning as much as possible about them is essential before you start living with them. This will help you and your agency plan how the arrangement will work.
For example, you should know how many children the family has and if they have any special needs or dietary restrictions. Also, be clear about what your duties will be. Typically, au pairs are expected to assist for 25-30 hours per week, including the weekends. They will also be provided with 28 days of paid holiday.
It’s also important to communicate early on about any cultural differences you may have. For example, if you go to bed early, but your host family likes to stay up late, it’s best to discuss how this can be worked out.
In addition, be open to learning about your host family’s beliefs and traditions. This is a great way to grow and make lifelong connections. It’s not uncommon for au pairs and their hosts to remain friends long after their program ends.
What to Expect from Your Au Pair Agency
If you are passionate about travel and childcare, becoming an au pair is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have! This working holiday lets you combine your interests and earn a monthly salary without living expenses. Au pair salaries vary by country, but many au pairs receive free room and board and even access to a mobile phone and car for their stay.
If this sounds like an opportunity, consider registering with an au pair agency to help find your perfect match. They can help you navigate the visa process and ensure all your paperwork is in order, saving you time and stress. However, some au pair agencies can charge a hefty fee.
Choose an au pair agency that sponsors the J-1 visa program and is subject to US State Department regulation. This way, you can be confident that the au pair program meets the highest standards and is safe for both au pairs and host families. Also, ensure the agency you choose is familiar with your destination’s au pair culture and has extensive experience matching au pairs with host families.