Au Pair, travel, and language programs in – China!

China

(photo courtesy of the Asia Kids Society)

Have you ever thought about working as an au pair in China? If so, I just found out this week about an organization that can help you get there. The LOHO Centre in Beijing offers people au pair jobs, internships, and other work and language programs throughout travel. It’s also part of the IAPA (the International Au Pair Association), so it’s legit.

I don’t have numbers to prove this, but I would think that China is still a bit off the beaten path as far as au pairing goes. But apparently they have a very large number of host families looking for au pairs to come work for them. The agency also says that they have an increasing number of au pairs coming in from Western countries, which I can imagine is true.

So if the Chinese language, culture, and people are fascinating to you and it’s a place you would like to find out more about living and working in, take a look!

 

Tips for starting out right with your Host Family (Adventures in America – Part 2)

picagaThis is another guest post from Agnieszka, who is currently working as an au pair in Georgia, USA. Enjoy!

When I first met my host family, I of course was nervous, like all au pairs are. These are things I learned that help me get through the initial strange getting-to-know stage, and hopefully they will help you if you are getting started out in a new place and with a new family!

  1. Be yourself! Nothing is worse than pretending to be someone completely different than you are just because, this is what you think others want to see. If you start out pretending, you will have to do it all the time for the whole year. Is that worth it? I don’t think so.
  2. Be honest! This is a new situation for you, and it is normal to be anxious at the beginning. If there are problems or you don’t understand things that are being said, say that you do not understand and that you need them to repeat themselves. No one expects you to be perfect, so it’s ok to be honest if there is an issue or if something isn’t clear.
  3. Talk a lot! Communication is the most important thing when it comes to relationships with other people. If you do not share anything, it is impossible to get to know and be able to trust, and to be trusted. If you have any problems with your host family, go and talk about what is happening. Of course, communication is important not only when you have a problem! During normal days, when you are happy about something be sure to be open and share.
  4. Listen, too! Talking is just part of communication. The rest of it is listening. Occasionally your host family will have things to discuss with you about their household and children and maybe even how you are doing things. If they have problems to discuss, do not defend yourself immediately, but listen to what they have to say and share your opinion afterwards. Stay open and be willing to hear what they have to say!
  5. Spend my time with your host family! If they eat dinners together – eat with them. If they go somewhere on the weekend and invite you to join, then go with them. Of course I am not saying that you should be with them all the time, but do be sure to spend time getting to know them and having fun with them. The au pair/host family relationship doesn’t have to be all work and no play!
  6. Have fun! Remember, living abroad as an au pair is something you really wanted, so stay relaxed and go with the flow. Living in another country and working and living with people you’ve just met can be challenging, but you will get used to the new place and have a great time. Just remember to stay positive, even when it gets challenging.

 

Adventures in America – Guest post from an Au Pair in Georgia

au pair in Georgia This is a guest post from Agnieszka, an au pair from Poland currently working near Atlanta, Georgia. She will be writing regular posts for us, and you can read more about her au pair experience – as well as advice for others – at her personal blog.

About myself

My name is Agnieszka, and I am a 22-year-old from Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. I came to the US as an au pair in November 2013, and I live near Atlanta, Georgia, with a 5-year old girl named Alicia, and her dad, Nathan. We also have one more member of a family – a cat named Cleopatra, whom we call Cleo for short.

Why am I here?

It  all started when my host dad, Nathan, and I decided to create a series of posts about how children should be treated, which I posted on my personal blog (the link is above). I then got in touch with Talya and was offered the opportunity to share my experience as an au pair, which I will be doing on a monthly basis here.

Why I decided to become an au pair …

My life back in Warsaw was not very easy or pleasant, which is why I decided to make a change. I was working as a receptionist in a dancing school for almost two years, working hard, and more or less just scraping by. I knew I wanted to enjoy life, travel as much as possible, meet new people and make my dreams come true. I was not quite sure what to do and looked into different options. Everything changed while I was on a trip to Slovakia with two friends in 2012, when one of them told me she saw a video of a girl who went to the US as an au pair for a year. The girl talked about how much she liked it, how much she learned, and she also said it was a very good way to become more independent.I was very interested, so after the trip I started to research to learn more and more about au pair programs in the states. At that time, I was not extremely interested in living in the United States, but the more I read about it the more I was convinced it was for me.

It took quite some time to organize my life so that I could go to the US as an au pair. I had to work to save money, get my driver’s license, and finish up my schooling. It was a very stressful time but I am happy that I had a goal and did not give up. I knew I exactly what I wanted to reach so I kept trying and by 2013, after finding an agency and then a host family, I made it to the USA as an au pair!

At the time, my biggest dream was to go to California, but I was offered a job with a family in Georgia, and I am very happy here. I’m enjoying new things, meeting new people, and have opportunities I did not have before. Georgia is not California, but it is a great place!

So … that is all from me today, but I will be back again soon to share more about my experience as an au pair in Georgia. In the meantime, I would love to hear from other au pairs living and working in the US, so please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below, or join our forum!

 

Summer program for Au Pairs in Italy

Venice pic

Photo courtesy of dreamstime

This is a guest post by Silva, an American who recently moved to Trento, Italy with her husband. Silva is an English teacher and volunteer at InCo, helping match host families with au pairs.

Italian families are looking for English-speaking au pairs for summer 2014!

InCo (Interculturitå e Comunicazione) is a non-profit organization that began in 2004 and is located in Trento, Italy. It is an organization geared towards bringing cultures and people from all over the world together, giving them the chance to experience a different country, language, and culture. This is done by creating positions in which volunteers or au pairs can live and work in a new city and/or country.

The organization is currently looking for au pairs who are interested in going to Italy for three months this summer. Host families are looking for au pairs that are from the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, and Germany. Au pairs should have some child-care experience, and of course, enjoy travel and foreign language. Host families also look for au pairs that are creative, responsible, fun loving, and love to be around children!

Itay is a country full of color, laughter, shouts, delicious food, and beautiful sceneray. With a bus or train you can reach lakes, mountains, or a different city. Italians are also known for enjoying life to the fullest, whether it’s vacation, family, or enjoying the traditional aperitif with friends in the evening. It is a country worth experiencing!

Living with an Italian family is a wonderful and enriching experience – au pairs will learn a new language, try traditoinal Italian dishes, and see and experience something new almost everyday. Italian families are highly family-oriented, and au pairs are welcomed as one of the family.

Anyone interested in the summer program can contact Silva at silva.e03@gmail.com

 

How to be a fantastic host family

family-picture au pair blog

So … ages ago we talked a bit about characteristics needed to be a great au pair in a guest post by Lisa Kempton from Au Pair International. Getting back on task, now we’re going to take a look at what makes a great host family.

For this I’m digging back into my own experience as an au pair in Germany  (way … back … when!). The family I worked for was not perfect – just as I was not the picture perfect au pair. But they were a great family to work for, and here are the traits they had that made them that way.

A great host family is …

  1. Flexible – Flexibility is a must, both for au pairs and host families. Although au pairs generally are the ones having to be the most flexible during their stay, host families also need to remain flexible and good ones will do so occasionally.
  2. Fun – No one wants to be a part of a boring family. You don’t have to be circus acrobats or the most exciting ever, but a good host family knows how to have fun with each other and include their au pairs in on the fun.
  3. Forgiving – Fact: your au pair is human and will make mistakes. Even the most dedicated, hardworking au pairs will screw up occasionally, so be ready to overlook a few things and be forgiving.
  4. Generous (no, they couldn’t all start with ‘f’s!) – My host family could have won an award for generosity. They always included me in family activities and trips, gave me awesome Christmas and birthday presents as though I were part of the family, and occasionally surprised me with gifts and random nice little things. Generosity makes one feel welcome, and au pairs are no exception.
  5. Loving – Au pairs thrive when being welcomed into a warm, loving family environment. Of course, no family is perfect, so don’t feel you have to be 1960s- American-tv-show perfect, but if a family loves each other and is happy it’s going to be much easier for good au pairs to want to live with them as part of their family.

So there you have it! What are your thoughts on what makes a good host family? Anything I missed that should definitely be on this list?