The Au Pair Series: Mandy in Geneva

The Au Pair Series: Mandy in Geneva

Becoming an Au Pair

Tell us about yourself.

I am a software developer and Digital Nomad. I’m currently in the Ukraine, but I’m house sitting and just generally wandering my way through Europe for the next few months.

Where and when were you an au pair?

From 2001-2 I was with a family just outside of Geneva, Switzerland.

Why did you choose to go au pairing in that particular country?

I was offered jobs in Germany and Barcelona, but I chose Geneva because it is so central so traveling to other places would be easy, and I really liked the family.

What was the ‘aim’ of your year as an au pair?

To travel internationally. I’d never been outside the US though I’d traveled extensively there. I wanted to get a chance to see more of the world before I settled down and did the whole family thing.

How did you find your au pair family, and what tips would you have for those beginning their own searches for potential families?

I found them through an Au Pair matching site. It was pretty unusual in those times to use an online service but now it’s definitely common. My suggestion is to really talk to the family about the expectations they have, your hours, living quarters, etc. The family in Barcelona asked me “How do you feel about giving up your freedom for a year?” That was a huge red flag for me because being an Au Pair was going to be my job and entry into Europe, not my 24/7 life.

How did you find the first few weeks moving in as an au pair with a new family? Are there any things you wish you’d have known before beginning?

I was amazingly lucky. I had a great family who was really helpful and supportive. They went out of their way to help me get settled, including getting the names and numbers of other au pairs/nannys in the park so I would have a social network to tap into when I arrived.

Life as an Au Pair

What was your daily routine like as an Au Pair? 

When I arrived the mom gave me a list of extra duties (besides caring for the kids) and I got to choose two that I wanted to do while I was there. I chose ironing and cooking because I don’t mind the first and I like the 2nd.

 I spent most of my time with their 8 month old though there was also 6 and 8 year old boys in the house that I would care for after school.

 On full days, I would take the kids to school then have the baby during the day and we’d shop/run errands/have play dates, etc. I’d pick the older kids up from school and we’d play at the park for a while then go have snack and homework time while I cooked dinner.

 On half days, I would just pick the kids up from school, play for a while, then do snack, homework, etc.

 The kids didn’t have school on wednesdays and when I worked those days we’d take the bus into geneva and walk around the lake or go to a museum or take the bus to the next town over and get a treat at the pastry shop. We also went to the local park a lot.

What was the deal with school holidays? (eg. Did you have the weeks off, or were you required to work during this time?)

I worked 30 hours/week from Monday at 3 (when I got the kids from school) until Friday at 9 (when I took the kids to school). I had weekends off unless something special was going on and they needed me. For longer holidays, if the family was going somewhere I had the option to join them and they would pay half of my costs. I did this for a trip to Egypt and Paris. If I didn’t want to join them, I just had the time off.

What were your best and worst experiences as an au pair?

Best was getting to live with a family and see how other people live. I was the only child to a single mom so our life was very different. It was a good education for me. The worst was living with a family. 🙂 I was 27 when I was an au pair and had been living independently with a career for years. It was a big change, but it was usually ok.

Mandy, Au Pair Geneva, Au Pair Series

Socializing and leisure

What advice do you have for making friends as an Au Pair?

Join local networks, meetups, facebook groups, talk to people in the park, etc. It’s easier now with everything being online. Back then it was harder.

How were you able to fit socializing with the commitment of your hours as an Au Pair?

My work day ended at dinner time or before every day and I had weekends off so it was easy for me to socialize. And if I wanted extra time off to travel with my friends I just had to ask in advance. I had a great social network of friends that I’m still seeing on a regular basis.

How easy was it to feel part of the community? Did you make friends outside of the ‘au pair’ world?

I was friends with some of the neighbors, but most of my friends were au pairs.

Learning the language and culture

How easy was it to find your language school, and did attending one help you personally?

I had a tutor come in and the family helped, but I’m useless at languages so after a while we kind of gave up 🙂

How did you find the language barrier (if there was one)? – How were the first few weeks of living in a new country?

There wasn’t much of a language barrier. It was a swiss/us family so they all spoke fluent english as did several neighbors. Geneva is a very international city so it was easy to be understood with english and what french I did know. and most of my friends spoke french so if I needed to they helped.

How did you improve your language skills?

Sadly, I didn’t improve them much.

Any tips for those learning a new language?

Practice, immerse yourself. Had I not been with a family of fluent english speakers, I’m sure my french would have been much better.

Do you feel as if you have progressed with your new language?

No, I moved to mexico so I kind of had to purge french from my brain so I could focus on Spanish. I still know key phrases and when I’m in french speaking countries it comes back, but it’s not great.

 Mandy, Au Pair Geneva, Au Pair Series
Life after being an Au Pair

How has being an au pair changed you?

I always had a travel bug, but this just sealed the deal. I returned to the US determined to settle down and do the american dream thing. It lasted for a few years then I realized it wasn’t for me. I’ve now been traveling since 2008 and don’t intend to stop.

Would you do au pairing again?

At my age, no. I’m too set in my ways to live with another family like that again and too tired to deal with kiddos that much. If i were young, I would consider it but I’d be wary of the family. I got really lucky but some of my other au pair friends had really bad experiences.

Would you recommend au pairing to others? And why? 

Definitely! I think everyone should live abroad for a year. It changes your whole perspective. Au pairing is a great way to do it and I’d recommend it to most people.

What advice would you give to those wanting to become an Au Pair?

Talk a lot to your family. Research the area you’d be living to make sure it’s a good fit for you. The job I was offered in Germany was really remote. I would not have enjoyed it.

VISA Preparation for Au Pairs

Was it a requirement for you to have a VISA?

Yes.

How did you go about getting your VISA?

The family sponsored me and I applied at the Swiss Embassy in Chicago.

What do you wish you had known about the VISA process before you had obtained it?

It was super easy, mostly because the dad was a lawyer and they’d had au pairs before so they knew what needed to be done.

Find out more about Mandy with her various social media platforms:

Mandy is a Software Developer who, bitten by the international travel bug during her Au Pair days, has been traveling full-time since 2008.  You can follow her travels at Vagabondette.com or check out her work at MandyM.com.

Blog: vagabondette.com  |  Professional wesbite: http://mandym.com  |

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vagabondette   |  Twitter: @mandym_webdev   |   Instagram: @wanderingdev

The Au Pair Series: Mary in Denmark

The Au Pair Series: Mary in Denmark

Becoming an Au Pair

Tell us about yourself!

I’m originally from the Philippines. I’m only 21 when I decided to be an au pair.

Where and when were you an au pair?

I’m currently in Denmark. I moved here late 2013.

Why did you choose to go au pairing in that particular country?

The offer wasn’t really for me, it’s for my sister but she can’t go. So she asked me if I wanted to give it a try. Basically, I didn’t chose 🙂

What was the ‘aim’ of your year as an au pair?

At first, I just wanted to go away. I was fresh graduate and got a job right away. But I wasn’t very happy; I don’t know what kind of job I wanted to do. Finding a job is also challenging, I don’t want to be labeled as Degree holder but jobless. I don’t really have any idea what is an au pair, I just said yes and took the opportunity to go away, travel and find myself.

How did you find your au pair family, and what tips would you have for those beginning their own searches for potential families?

It was through my sister. After my 7 months with my first family, I changed to another one. It wasn’t because we didn’t get along. The job was too easy for me. I guess I’m more into fast-phased type of person.

I found my second family online; I chose to find a new host who are also from the city where I already lived, because my friends are here. And also, I will have the chance to meet them in person.

If the beginner will be flying from home, check which city the family lives. Conduct a research if you think you will like to live there. If you have the chance to meet the new host (e.g same country or nearby country), take the advantage.

How did you find the first few weeks moving in as an au pair with a new family? Are there any things you wish you’d have known before beginning?

It was fine actually. They explained and show things to me. They made me feel very welcome. But yes, there are things that I hope I knew before I started the program.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t familiar with au pair scheme, if I did better research, I should have known what to expect. For example, how expensive it is to live in Denmark, some basic terms for Good morning or how are you. I wish I tried to search for international groups where I can meet people.

I wish I read the au pair scheme thoroughly, so I was familiar with my rights and job description. I learned it the hard way, but nevertheless, at least I can help out upcoming au pair for some advices.

 The Au Pair Series, Mary in Denmark

Life as an Au Pair

What was your daily routine like as an Au Pair? 

I mainly look after the kids at first. My second host family was very active and hands on, when the kids grew older (3 kids, 4 year old and twins at 19 months old, the twins were babies when I started with them), I started to do more house choir, like washing kids clothes, sort out their dresser, do a little vacuum cleaning and tidying up their toys)

I also make small snacks for them during the day, and help to clean up after dinner. I don’t cook, first because I don’t like it and second because au pair should not. If the au pair like to cook. It would be lovely if the au pair can do it at least make a dinner for the family once in 2 weeks or once a month.

What was the deal with school holidays? (eg. Did you have the weeks off, or were you required to work during this time?)

I took the holidays off. Don’t get me wrong, I like spending time with the family, but I also believe that kids should spend more time with their parents. I also like traveling or just relax with friends.

What were your best and worst experiences as an au pair?

The best was the chance to learn new culture and language. Meeting people around the world and helping me realize what I wanted to do in my life. The worst was when I started to get bored; things fell into a routine way. I wanted to just leave without finishing my contract. Also, the homesickness. I was homesick for the first 6 months. Then it gets better. Finding friends was also a little bit challenging for me at first.

If you experienced any problems or issues with the family, how did you resolve them?

We talked about it. We open up, I admit it is scary and nerve cracking. I’m an over thinker so I tend to make things worst in my head whereas it can be easy, if the au pair and the host parents talk things openly.

The Au Pair Series, Mary in Denmark

Socializing and leisure

What advice do you have for making friends as an Au Pair?

I have 3 ways to find friends; Go online (Facebook groups like: Berlin International or Amsterdam Expats), attend language school and find your countrymen around you. How were you able to fit socializing with the commitment of your hours as an Au Pair?

How were you able to fit socializing with the commitment of your hours as an Au Pair?

One of the important things I made clear with my host is that I wanted my off days to be in the weekend. And we agreed. In Denmark, we work 30 hours a week, 6 hours a day. So I have plenty of time to meet friends and socialize if I have free time before my work starts or after. In the weekends, I make sure that I will be with friends. I tried not to stay home during weekends, not because I don’t like my host family, but because I know that it would mean so much with them to spend time with their kids as they are also busy working the whole weekdays. It also gives me off from work ambiance and just enjoy my day.

How easy was it to feel part of the community? Did you make friends outside of the ‘au pair’ world?

It depends, for example, my background culture is Catholic and a little bit conservative, whilst in Europe they are more liberated and express their feelings however they want. Moving to another country with different background will not be easy if you won’t open yourself up with new and different culture.

But it was easy for me. I’m very proud that I experienced this. And yes, I made friends outside the au pair world. I actually have a lot of university student friends than au pairs 🙂

 The Au Pair Series, Mary in Denmark

Learning the language and culture

How easy was it to find your language school, and did attending one help you personally?

In Denmark it is easy. As there are a lot of foreigners in Denmark, language is advisable if you wanted to live here longer or understand the things around you. The government will direct you to the closest language school to you.

Yes it helped me. I love languages. I met new people from attending the class, and learning the local language makes me feel like “Wow, I can break the code now” J

How did you find the language barrier (if there was one)? – How were the first few weeks of living in a new country?

It was chaotic; I lost a loooot of times. I’m not good with people so I don’t ask for directions or help before. Haha.

In Denmark, everything is posted and stated in Danish. Danes are good English speakers so you don’t have to worry asking someone if you get lost. But the government also encourages foreigners to learn the language.

How did you improve your language skills?

I live with Danish family so I have the advantage to practice the language. As I said, Danes are good with their English, it makes harder for international people to learn it because you will be tempted to just talk in English to make things less complicated.

Anyway, I read books; I started with children book, then with newspaper. I listen to every word I hear in Danish even it was kind of snooping with someone’s conversation. I listen to Danish music, radio and watch Danish shows. When I finally got the courage, I started speaking and talking in Danish in the public places (e.g Bus chauffeur, store saleslady, grocery clerks, librarian and of course my host parents and their kids)

Any tips for those learning a new language?

Talk with kids, as they use light words. Talk and talk, that’s the only way to learn it faster, don’t mind your pronunciation and grammar, as you will learn them throughout the way.

Do you feel as if you have progressed with your new language?

Proudly yes J I am now in conversational level. Of course, I don’t understand everything and my grammar and pronunciation is still not that good but nevertheless, I can handle conversation.

 The Au Pair Series, Mary in Denmark

Life after being an Au Pair

How has being an au pair changed you?

It showed me how big the world is. If I don’t fit with a certain group, I take off and find myself. Open-minded, I am more of that now. It helped me to be more matured and more understanding towards other people.

Would you do au pairing again?

No. But it’s not a bad thing against au paring. Instead, it is a sign that it’s time for me to move on to another chapter of my life.

Would you recommend au pairing to others? And why?

Yes, highly recommended. Because it’s a great deal! It’s not a heavy work, In Denmark, you can even quit anytime if you’re not happy anymore. In my opinion, this is a good option for soul searching.

What advice would you give to those wanting to become an Au Pair?

Don’t be afraid, but be cautious. Au pairing is getting bigger and bigger. Know your rights as a lot of families do abuse the au pair scheme. Enjoy your time and let the world know why this is a great deal. After being an au pair, help the upcoming ones and inspire them.

VISA Preparation for Au Pairs

Was it a requirement for you to have a VISA?

Yes.

How did you go about getting your VISA?

It wasn’t hard actually. I think it’s also because Denmark is such a peaceful and have fantastic system so the process was easy.

What do you wish you had known about the VISA process before you had obtained it?

Because it was really easy, I wish I waited until the Christmas holiday passed. I should have celebrated with my own family.

 

Find out more about Mary with her various social media platforms:

My name is Mary Charie Ylagan. I’m originally from the Philippines and an au pair in Denmark right now. I have a travel blog where I will be discussing about my au pair experience and my traveling. My blogsite is still under construction, but I will keep you posted 🙂

Blog: amaryroad.wordpress.com   |   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcrylagan   |   Twitter: @amaryroad   |  Instagram: @amaryroad

The Au Pair Series: Emily in Paris

The Au Pair Series: Emily in Paris

Becoming an Au Pair

Tell us about yourself!

I had recently graduated from University of Northern Colorado when I decided to live abroad as an au pair before starting my life in the “real world”. Now, I am back in Denver working and missing Paris dearly!

Where and when were you an au pair?

I was an au pair in Paris, France from August, 2014-July 2015 (age 22).

Why did you choose to go au pairing in that particular country?

I had studied French throughout college. I had done a short study abroad trip to the south of France over the summer in 2012. I love getting to practice my French and learning about French culture! I have always wanted to live in a big city, and Paris is the perfect place for au pairs.

What was the ‘aim’ of your year as an au pair?

My goal was to learn everything to know about life in France. What I never realized is I would learn so much about many other countries as well through my sweet friends!

How did you find your au pair family, and what tips would you have for those beginning their own searches for potential families?

I found my au pair family through a site called Almondbury Au Pair & Nanny Agency (aupair-agency.com). Although the word ‘agency’ might throw you off, this was a free site for me to use that allowed me to choose my own family instead of being paired with one. I would personally suggest not using an ‘agency’ that is asking for au pairs to pay fees in order to be placed with a family. I knew many au pairs in Paris and only a few who used this type of service, and their experience was at times negative because of the lack of connection between the au pair and the family, as well as the miscommunication about the appropriate role of the au pair. I enjoyed being able to choose from many family dynamics and job descriptions.

How did you find the first few weeks moving in as an au pair with a new family? Are there any things you wish you’d have known before beginning?

It is very nerve wrecking moving in with a foreign family whom you have never met. I was sick to my stomach the first couple days from all the nerves! I always assumed the family had very high expectations for me and how I should be acting and spending my time. This was not true at all! Be yourself and act how you want, the family is just grateful to have you there!

 Emily, Paris Au Pair, The Au Pair Series Roisin Grace, Au Pair Guide

Life as an Au Pair

What was your daily routine like as an Au Pair? 

  • Prepare the breakfast table and wake the kids around 7:00 am
  • Help kids dress and prepare their bags for school
  • Drive kids to school at 8:00 am

The time from when I arrived back home from dropping the kids off and picking them up in the afternoon was mine to spend as I pleased. Three days a week, I had a French course that lasted from 1:30-3:30 pm. Before and after, I would either relax in the house or hang out with nearby friends!

  • Pick up kids from school at 4:25 pm
  • Depending on the day, I would drive one of my kids to an activity such as tennis or writing lessons, and pick them up an hour later.
  • Play with kids, help with homework, give baths
  • Prepare and serve dinner for myself and the kids around 7:30 pm
  • Help kids calm down for the night and get ready for bed
  • Mom arrived home from work from 8:30 pm and my duties were finished

What was the deal with school holidays? (eg. Did you have the weeks off, or were you required to work during this time?)

In France, school vacations each last two weeks (except for summer which is longer). I usually watched the kids the entire day during the first week, and had the entire second week off. My monthly pay was normal, since it ended up being the same amount of working hours. The only exception was the fall vacation, during which I watched the kids the entire two weeks without extra pay. In exchange, I had the entire two weeks off during Christmas break.

What were your best and worst experiences as an au pair?

My best experiences revolved around becoming close with my host kids, and also spending amazing times in Paris and traveling with my friends. Although it took a few months, the kids I watched and I became very close. I felt really lucky that I was able to have great relationships with them, it made being an au pair not feel as much like “work”.
The most frustrating experiences came from lack of communication with the family at times, and feeling that my time was not respected. I’d also had some negative experiences out and about, such as having my phone stolen and once being slapped by an Italian man! It was hard to often feel taken advantage of as a foreigner. I frequently had to remind myself that these types of problems I would encounter in any large city known for having tourists, and it wasn’t a reflection of France specifically.

If you experienced any problems or issues with the family, how did you resolve them?

At times I felt very uncomfortable living with the family. There are certain days when you feel like you’d like a break from being around the people you technically work for, but it is simply not possible living there. My host parents often took for granted my availability. They assumed because I was home, I was able to watch the kids or help with homework, even if it was my designated time off. I resolved that issue in a somewhat cowardly way: by always leaving! I was often intimidated by my host parents and afraid to ask for something to change, since they were giving me so much already by opening up their home to me. If I were to do it over, I would have been more vocal with my concerns in order to feel more comfortable living there.

 Emily, Paris Au Pair, The Au Pair Series Roisin Grace, Au Pair Guide

Socializing and leisure

What advice do you have for making friends as an Au Pair?

Use the internet! I thought this was a weird way to meet people before becoming an au pair. It’s not! If you join a couple au pair Facebook pages that are related to the city you’re in or near, you will make friends in no time. Go to events for au pairs and expats, or even just write up a post asking someone to hang out. Everyone’s in the same boat and will want to be your friend.

How were you able to fit socializing with the commitment of your hours as an Au Pair?

Luckily, my hours of work were pretty standard for an au pair. I had weekends completely free, and usually my vacation days lined up with at least a couple friends. One thing I wish I had known before was the lengthy walk from my house to the nearest train station. On week nights, it really wasn’t worth it to take a 30 minute train ride to see friends after I already had to walk 30 minutes to the station! It was pretty frustrating sometimes.

How easy was it to feel part of the community? Did you make friends outside of the ‘au pair’ world?

The majority of my friends were au pairs. I had already had a friend in Paris because she studied abroad the year before at my university. I became friends with another Parisian girl on a metro once, when I was being verbally harassed by a drunk French man and she sweetly intervened. It was harder to stay in touch with my French friends than my au pair friends because of the unique au pair schedule (basically opposite a normal person’s work schedule). I am not sure if the feeling of community would be more accessible in a smaller town than Paris.

 Emily, Paris Au Pair, The Au Pair Series Roisin Grace, Au Pair Guide

Learning the language and culture

How easy was it to find your language school, and did attending one help you personally?

I attended La Clef, a language school in Saint Germain en Laye. The biggest plus was that I met some of my best friends through my class, and even more friends who were in other classes at the same institution. I didn’t personally like my class after the first few months, because it felt a little repetitive, and I wasn’t getting the conversational practice I was looking for. I would suggest finding a language school that lets you pay in installments throughout the year, in case the class ends up not being exactly what you wanted.

How did you find the language barrier (if there was one)? – How were the first few weeks of living in a new country?

Since I had studied French in school, I knew enough already to get by alright. The first few weeks (or months!) were spent asking people to repeat themselves, and having to respond very slowly, thinking about every single word!

How did you improve your language skills?

Practice speaking! I wasn’t as interested in the grammar and vocabulary that my French course was teaching me as I was in speaking to my friends after class and trying to have entire conversations in French. You can always Google the vocab! 😉

Any tips for those learning a new language?

Something that helped me a lot while learning was to read the language. It was hard at first. I had to stop after almost every sentence to look up a word or two. Start by buying an easy to read book in your host country and watch how much you improve!

Do you feel as if you have progressed with your new language?

Yes! Throughout the year, I was able to communicate much quicker and feel like I was fluent enough to have a decent conversation with just about anybody.

Emily, Paris Au Pair, The Au Pair Series Roisin Grace, Au Pair Guide

Life after being an Au Pair

How has being an au pair changed you?

After being an au pair, I feel so much more in touch with the rest of the world. Now I have close friends in many different countries all over the world. I thought a year abroad would quench my thirst for travel, but it has only made me want to travel more!

Would you do au pairing again?

Although I would enjoy living abroad again, I don’t think I would be an au pair again. It is at times a very difficult job that you can’t wait to end. It also depends a lot on your specific situation. Depending on your host family, kids, schedule, living arrangements, and compensation, a job as an au pair can be awful or amazing.

Would you recommend au pairing to others? And why? (Even if you said no, let us know your reasons!)

Depending on the person, probably yes. Being an au pair is wonderful most of the time, with fun perks like being able to travel, have a flexible schedule, experience new culture, and explore a completely new city. However, for the most part of your day, it is about taking care of kids. If watching kids isn’t something you’d thoroughly enjoy doing, find another way to live and work abroad!

VISA Preparation for Au Pairs

Was it a requirement for you to have a VISA?

Yes. Americans wanting to become an au pair in France must have a “student” type visa if your stay is over 90 days. There is actually a particular long stay “au pair” student visa you can obtain.

How did you go about getting your VISA?

The visa process took me a couple months, mostly because the appointment has to be made about a month or two in advance, and then it can take up to another month for your visa to be approved and sent to you. The U.S. likes to make things extremely difficult for some reason, and you actually have to apply for your visa in person at one of their few consulates around the country. The website will tell you which one depending on your state of residence. I live in Colorado, but had to fly to California for my appointment.

What do you wish you had known about the VISA process before you had obtained it?

Read everything you can. The French Consulate website is very thorough and explains everything you will need to obtain. The confusing part for me was obtaining the paperwork my host family needed for the OFII Residence Form. This is a form that you need to possess for your visa appointment, but your host family must get it for you in France. I did not realize this and was super confused. Trust what your host family says and answer promptly the questions they ask you to obtain this weird form.

http://www.consulfrance-losangeles.org/spip.php?rubrique206

Emily, Paris Au Pair, The Au Pair Series Roisin Grace, Au Pair Guide

Launch of my new ‘The Au Pair Series’

Launch of my new ‘The Au Pair Series’

Being an au pair can be one of the most rewarding experiences. As you join a family for the year, you get to enjoy immersing yourself in a new culture whilst living in a different city, and learn all about the language and life there.

As a previous au pair, I found that there wasn’t much information about the life of an au pair. Therefore, I am launching my new ‘The Au Pair Series’, which will showcase a wide variety of former/current au pair experiences in different countries throughout the world –  which will allow you to understand and see into the interesting lifestyle that so many of us have taken.

I hope that this new blog series will help those thinking of of becoming an au pair learn more about this amazing experience. If you were an au pair or are currently one, I would love for you to get in touch and for the world to hear about your very own unique au pairing experience!

I’m really excited to hear all the different stories of various au pair experiences, and hope you will too. The Au Pair series will be featured on my blog every Monday, with each new guest post going live then.

For more information, check out my page all about the new series here.

What a year – Au revoir à Paris et bonjour à Oxford!

What a year – Au revoir à Paris et bonjour à Oxford!

As I sit here eagerly attempting to write down what an incredible year I have had, I cannot believe that a year has passed since I said goodbye to family and friends and headed off towards the city of light. A year today, my Parisian adventure began. It’s safe to say that it has ended much too quickly. Continue reading “What a year – Au revoir à Paris et bonjour à Oxford!”

Ways to make new friends as an Au Pair

Ways to make new friends as an Au Pair

Moving to a new country where you do not necessarily speak the language and know no one can be incredibly daunting. Having experienced that just this year, it can be difficult at first, but there are lots of ways of meeting and making new friends. It’s only after a year of living away in another country has the amazing amount of possibilities of doing just this become apparent to me, and I wish I had known sooner! Hence why I am writing this blog post – to help all those becoming Au Pairs to meet new people when moving to a new country. Just because this blog post is aimed primarily at Au Pairs, does not mean that International Students or anyone in general cannot follow these tips – they’re made for everyone!

Language Classes

One of the best places to meet other Au Pairs is at you language classes. Most Au Pairs will attend a language school of some kind, and depending on the school most of the other students will be Au Pairs. In fact, my school was primarily filled with Au Pairs, and my weekly classes were just Au Pairs! This makes it a really easy way to meet others. The good thing about being in an environment like this is that you’re all in the same boat – you are all looking after kids, probably living with a family and in a different country to where you call home. I met some of my best friends in my class, and am so glad that I did!

I would suggest inviting people for coffee or a walk around the city after class. That way you can talk to the other students without interrupting the class!

Language Exchange

This is one of the ways to meet people that I completely regret not doing sooner. Language Exchange is just that – you meet with someone to exchange your language for theirs. Typically, once you’ve exchanged a few emails or messages online, you’ll meet somewhere in public like a nice cafe and just talk! I met a great friend doing just this – She helped with my French and vice versa.    The great thing about Language Exchange is that both parties benefit. It’s also a great way to meet those living in the city, whether they be newbies like yourself or natives. A better way for learning the cultures of the country your in and their language is to be become friends with a native, which is exactly what language exchange offers.

Whilst I’ve only used Conversation Exchange, there are other websites out there to check out for Language Exchanges, for example: My Language Exchange and Italki.

Facebook – Au Pair Groups

There are a wealth of Facebook groups out there devoted to Au Pairs or International students. To find them all you need to do is search ‘Au Pair [and the country you are in]’. There should be plenty of groups to join. Once joining, you can read other people’s posts and post yourself.

In fact, one of the Au Pair groups that I joined hosted an international picnic for all the Au Pairs interested to come and meet others. It was at one of these picnics that I met some of my bestest friends – and I’m so glad that I did! I had nearly decided not to attend, but realised that even though I didn’t know anybody, it’s a great way to meet new people.

Many Au Pair Facebook groups host other events and I recommend checking them out. You never know, like me you might find some people who will become your closest friends whilst living abroad.

Meet Up.com

If you don’t know what Meet Up is, then where have you been!? Meet Up is an online social platform ‘that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world.’ Basically, there are loads of ‘clubs’ or ‘societies’ if you will on Meet Up, where you can join any group depending on your interests and hobbies. For example, there are loads of fitness groups you can join. Whilst in Paris, some friends and I joined one where you got to partake in boot camps at a discounted price. If fitness isn’t your thing then do not fret, because there is literally a group for everything! There are lots of language exchange groups, groups for those interested in Photography and much more.

With Meet Up, you’re likely to meet a whole host of people from all over the city. Whilst there might not be as many Au Pairs, there will be lots of native people or expats, making it a great way to make new friends.

Join a Sports Club

Depending on what level and your passion, joining a sports club can be a great way to meet local people. Whilst here in Paris, I joined a local tennis club. Thankfully I was able to get a slight discount on the yearly fee due to being an Au Pair and wanting to play for the team, otherwise I doubt I would have been able to afford it. Joining the tennis club meant that not only did I meet new people, but as part of a team I was able to join in competitions and play for the Ladies team. I made lots of new friends through that, and even managed to get an English Tutoring Job for a family of one of the women I played with! So if you’re an avid sports fan and will devote the time to play in order to get your moneys worth, then I definitely recommend it.

Just speak to people! 

Whilst we’ve all been brought up with the motto ‘Never speak to Strangers’, sometimes it is a good thing to do just that. Normally you can suss out pretty quickly who looks ‘normal’ or not (though defining ‘normal’ is a whole other topic). I have had a few Au Pair friends make lots of new friends by doing that – talking to people! Whether on the metro, in a  park or in a bar, talking to people will open a new world of making friends. Just remember to be careful!

Have you been an Au Pair or perhaps an expat living in another country? If so, I’d love to hear your tips for those moving to a new place on how to make friends and meet others.