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!

 

Au pairs in America – Stay and travel!

girls on beach (photo courtesy of dreamstime)

Did you know that au pairs working the USA get to stay and travel even after their au pair job has ended? Yes, they actually do! America is a major au pair destination, and as it is such a giant country, au pairs often don’t get to see everything they want to see during their time as an au pair. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of State lets people in the U.S. on a J1 visa (for students and au pairs) stay and travel for up to thirty days once they have completed their au pair job. For a common tourist visa you can obtain online easily, visit estapermits.org, but for J1 visa, you will have to apply via your local American embassy.

Get the most out of your thirty days of travel by getting organized and having a plan. Now I admit, I don’t really like to plan, and when I worked as an au pair I liked planning things out even less than I do now. But by getting your ducks in a row before your contract is over, you will be able to see and do a lot more than by simply running off once you have finished your job without having planned at least a basic plan. You don’t have to have an outrageously detailed vacation schedule, but know where you would like to go and decide what you can afford to spend on the trip, and you will be that much ahead.

Depending on which agency you went with as an au pair, you may be able to get special travel arrangements during your post-work journeys. Go Au Pair has
a Bed and Breakfast program for their au pairs. Au pairs with their agency can travel and stay with host families around the U.S. for free. Other au pair agencies offer help to their au pairs, so be sure to find out what is available.

Consider traveling with other au pairs to cut cost and increase the fun factor. If you have made friends with other au pairs during your work, think about traveling together during some (or all) of your travel time. You will be able to save money on hotels, food, and rental cars, and you won’t run the risk of being lonely during your travels.

What about you? If you are an au pair, will you be traveling once your job is over? Where to?

Is au-pairing “unusual?”

girl with children(photo courtesy of dreamstime)

A recent article in a California town was titled “Danville family chooses unusual childcare method.” When I first read the article, I actually thought that it was written about the tiny town Danville in Georgia, near Dublin, GA, the small town we used to live in and where being – or having – an au pair would definitely be a bit out-of-the-ordinary.

But the article made me wonder – is being an au pair still considered unusual in the US? And what about host families – is having an au pair to take care of your children also considered unusual? I have yet to find stats on the number of American au pairs working overseas, but judging by the information that is now available for au pairs and from the comments on our forum, the numbers are higher than you might expect.

When I worked as an au pair ten years ago, (by now it’s probably safe to say eleven!), most au pairs I knew were either from South America or Central or Eastern Europe. Among my circle of au pair friends, there was one girl from California who lived and worked in a nearby city. But really, we were the only Americans I knew. I even got weird looks most every time I told people that I was working as an au pair. At that time being an au pair overseas was not nearly as popular as it is now becoming.

So what is your opinion – is being an au pair unusual? And for parents – is having an au pair to help with your kids something you consider somewhat out of the ordinary? Or is it normal where you live?

 

make more money in the US as an Au Pair

Although host families in the US probably are not too happy, the deal for foreign au pairs working in America just got a little sweeter. With the July increase in the federal minimum wage, the au pair stipend, which is in part based on the minimum wage rate, has also gone up.

This means the au pairs working in the United States now earn a weekly stipend of $195.75 (which is almost $20 more than they had been earning up to now). This puts monthly ‘pocket money’ for au pairs at around $800.00, and more for the months with five weeks…Not too shabby, considering room and board is covered.

Now is definitely time to consider coming to the US to work!

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