So you want to be an Au Pair?
Nola Wallace | Friday, January 24, 2020
Flashback to fall 2018, I was in my dorm sophomore year and my roommate was trying to talk me into applying to study abroad.
Although I had already gone on my own travel blips, I wanted to stay somewhere for longer than six weeks. Sadly, I had a habit of packing my school schedule to the max and had to inform her that studying abroad for a semester was not an option.
That’s when she brought up the idea of Au Pairing.
Although she herself had never been an Au Pair, she mentioned that she had heard of people doing it. For those who are like I was and don’t know what an Au Pair is, I would describe working as an Au Pair as a mix of nannying and being a foreign exchange student. Essentially, it is staying with a host family and working for them during the week as a nanny for an agreed-upon stipend while getting the daytime and weekends to yourself. You are not expected to be a maid or servant, but rather like a big sister in the family.
The best part is that there are thousands of families all over the world looking for Au Pairs!
Of course, you should have some experience with kids or as a mentor, but there were also families looking for tutors, health care help and even pet-sitters. Although Au Pairs are not as common in the United States, overseas it is seen as a way to broaden the family’s horizons by bringing in someone from a different culture to interact with them on a daily basis.
Traveling with a job almost sounded too good to be true. My roommate sent me a link to GreatAupair, a website for Au Pairs to list their resumes and get connected with host families. I, of course, let the link sit in my email inbox for a few weeks until one day when I had some downtime and decided to make a profile on a whim.
I talked to a few families who were interested, but it wasn’t until I was contacted by a lovely family from Italy that I ever considered my Au Pair dreams could become a reality.
The mother and I chatted for a bit online, and we had a lot in common. She spoke fantastic English because she was an English teacher, and we hit it off right away. She asked if I would be willing to FaceTime to talk more. I said yes, and the next thing I knew, I was booking a ticket to spend my three months of summer in Italy.
Of course, I was terrified at first, believing that I may have to relive the plot of the movie “Taken,” but my curiosity and travel bug outweighed my anxiety. It ended up being an absolutely wonderful experience where I got to travel all over Italy while working a summer job I loved. I went all over Rome, learned some Italian and got to make a whole new family overseas.
If you love to travel and your summers are free, I would highly recommend becoming an Au Pair.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.