Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Last Friday began like any other. I was preparing for a weekend trip to London that afternoon, so got my bags packed, did some work and reading, took a book from the library. Totally normal. Except, me and my housemate decided that we would check out what Shia LaBeouf was up to in Oxford. Yes, Shia LaBeouf was on Oxford (!) Pause for a moment whilst I stop squealing.

So for those who not familiar, the Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf has brought his focus to the world of performance art, and has done some many interesting things in the past. He is part of a trio which includes Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, making them ‘LaBeouf, Turner, Rönkkö’. One of the last things they did was occupy a gallery room in Liverpool’s FACT, answering the public’s calls in an attempt to ‘touch their soul’. I tried calling 200 times to no avail. So when I heard that the trio were going to be occupying a lift in the centre of Oxford for 24 hours, I had to take my chance. However, what I hadn’t realised was that the wait would take hours. 4-5 hours to be precise.

Naive me turned up with my housemate at 10.30 am, expecting to be finished by 12 pm at the latest, to then go on and continue our day. How wrong we were. 2.30pm, and we were still in the queue. With the anxiety of already waiting so long, and for it to be just a waste of time, we decided we would stick it out. Although every hour we ended up saying that we would only wait another 30 mins then we were leaving. So by 4pm we were finally in. For 20 minutes we occupied a life with Shia LaBeouf and co. After standing in the queue for what felt like a life time,  we had prepared and thought over and over about what we would talk about. It was going to be insightful, philosophical, we’d have them in stitches! No. No we didn’t. As soon as I greeted the trio and the doors closed in the elevator, the realisation hit me. We were here. With this Hollywood actor. I had grown up watching Shia in Even Stevens the TV show, and to be standing next to him, eating his pizza that he offered up was beyond surreal. My mind went numb, and I completely forgot all the things I had said I would talk about. It was awkward. There were silences. There were hummings and nervous shifting around on the spot. Thank goodness for my housemate Geoff and our new friend Joey (who we had the pleasure of queuing up with) – they came out with some interesting questions, which in turn stopped me from my verbal diarrhoea.

Even though I found it slightly awkward, I thought that it was definitely an interesting experience. I mean, how often do you get the chance to be in an elevator with Shia LaBeouf!?  I guess you’re probably reading this and thinking how the hell this was ‘art’. Well, the trio explained that the whole purpose of situating themselves for 24 hours within this tiny elevator (which only went up 2 floors) was a way of connecting with people. Having been asked to give a talk at the Oxford Union, the art trio thought it would be a more interesting and intimate experience to be able to offer people the chance of spending quality time with them, rather than just listen to them in the hall.  And it definitely was intimate, although somewhat contrived, which I felt took away from the experience.

But hey, like I said, how often do you get the chance to rub shoulders (literally!) with a Hollywood Actor? One thing that I did feel uncomfortable about was the fact that I bet (myself included), most people were actually there just to meet Shia. What about Luke and Nastja? How did they find the prospect of this? Is it just part of the whole experience? I guess having a famous actor as part of your art performance helps bring attention, but I wondered if they felt a little disregarded during the whole process. Yes, these are the many questions I thought about before meeting and after, yet didn’t ask them! Alas. So, what are your thoughts about the performance piece? Thought-provoking and intimate, or just pretentious?

Check the video out around 6 hours 48 mins!

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

Oxmas: Merry Christmas from Oxford

Oxmas: Merry Christmas from Oxford

What a crazy couple of months it has been for me! I officially finished my first term here at Oxford, and have been enjoying the Christmas holidays so far (except for when I’m attempting to write an essay!) I have been having an amazing time at Oxford, and am so appreciative for this incredible opportunity to study in such an awe-inpsiring place with so many interesting people. Continue reading “Oxmas: Merry Christmas from Oxford”

A Traditional beginning at Oxford University – Matriculation

A Traditional beginning at Oxford University – Matriculation

Last month I experienced one of the many traditions here at Oxford University – Matriculation. Having never heard or done anything like this before, the whole Matriculation phenomenon mystified me. Continue reading “A Traditional beginning at Oxford University – Matriculation”

Une prière pour Paris – A prayer for Paris

Une prière pour Paris – A prayer for Paris

I just wanted to say, that like so many, I cannot believe the tragedy and horror that took place last night. Watching the news life for hours last night, and I cannot even imagine how the people of Paris are feeling. All my best friends still in Paris are safe and sound, but as with many this will not be the case – they are in my prayers and thoughts.

Paris est dans mes pensées et mes prières, et j’espere tout mes amis en Paris sont hors de danger et comme avec la attaque Charlie Hebdo, la nation la nation sera unitéd au cours de cette période terrible 🇫🇷

I hope that Paris, France and the whole of Europe will stand united and show that the attackers will not destroy our hope in peace and solitary.

“Peace for Paris” Illustration by @jean_jullien

The Au Pair Series: Brooke in Paris

The Au Pair Series: Brooke in Paris

Becoming an Au Pair

Where and when were you an au pair?

I au paired for six months in Rueil Malmaison, a lovely western suburb of Paris. Unfortunately the “ten minute” commute from the house to the RER station turned out to be a 25-30 minute bus ride and 20 minute RER ride….make sure you google map and research your location before arrival. This family and I had a six month agreement so the commute was not a big deal. I then worked for a family in Croissy sur seine for the summer (the month of August) and loved each moment of the day. The mother was a stay at home with two lovely young boys. We had so any fun adventures. Currently, I am working in Paris from September to July in the 2nd arrondissement for one five year old. I am loving the varied experiences.

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

Like most American girls after watching Passport to Paris (the 1990s Mary-Kate and Ashley film), I decided it was my life long dream to ride upon a Vespa accompanied by a handsome French man around the Champs-Elysee. Also I wanted to learn the romantic language, solely to impress people back home.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

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

To be Parisian. I wanted to learn about the culture, the history, the fashion…why everyone here wears white Adidas with the green stripes. (The mystery is still unknown)

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

I used interexchange.org and highly recommend their services. They are an expensive agency and will most likely place you in a family living in the suburbs. However they were wonderfully involved in each of my situations involving miscommunications or visas.

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?

Honestly, I wish I would have asked them for a specific list of expected duties and hours. People are only human. They will take advantage if they can or feel the need to depending on the family. So make sure to have it all written down via email before hand to know what to expect. Also, make sure to declare before hand that you need weekends off if you want weekends off.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

Life as an Au Pair

What was your daily routine like as an Au Pair? 

  • Wake up make breakfast for the kids.
  • Clean up while they get ready.
  • Take them to school.
  • During the day, do laundry twice a week. Or that is free time (depending on if you have school or what not).
  • Pick up the kiddos from school.
  • Make them a snack, play with them.
  • Make the kids dinner, clean up afterwards. Play with them until mom and dad come home.

What was the deal with school holidays? 

I had one of the two weeks off each bank holiday which was lovely. However I did not get paid for the free week.

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

Best experience was making a family-like bond with my host family (the summer family especially). The kids become like your own siblings and you end up learning a lot about yourself and life through them. I realize why my mom is so over protective knowing how it feels to step into her shoes, caring for these young naive children.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

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

Absolutely. I actually switched families due to disagreements and abrupt changes when my contract was not respected. This is why I cannot stress enough you need to have your expected duties, hours, and pay on paper; SPECIFICALLY written down. I also stress the importance of going through an agency to help you when times like this occur.

Socializing and leisure

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

Tinder. I kid you not, some of my most awkward tinder dates have become my good friends here. Any sort of social media is encouraged when in need of a friend. Instagram, Facebook au pair groups, but just be careful not to meet up with everyone who offers. Make your intensions clear and always meet in a public place with a friend on call or nearby in case things get awkward. You would be surprised at the amount of exchange students are in the same position as you.

Also go to the Lions bar Monday nights, this is an international/student bar that hosts couch surfing bar crawls. Everyone is there to make friends and they are mostly english speakers. Check out blogs and suggested student bars. I recommend Irish, Canadian, and american bars to find english speakers. The long hop, the great Canadian, and Cocorans are among my favorites.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

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

Weekends! Also the hours the children are in school, gives you more than enough time to explore Paris.

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

The French have a reputation of being rude or cold, but c’est pas vrai! It’s not true. You must find reason to approach them or create conversation for a purpose. We Americans tend to freak people out with our golden retriever like curiosity. We come up to anyone and ask them random inquiries about themselves with the pure intention to learn about them. Don’t do that. Instead go to a cafe you love often. Become familiar with the staff and become a regular after some time they will open up and you can make many friends this way (and get some free coffee if you are lucky).

If you speak some French it is easier but for the most part, most of my friends are foreign.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

Learning the language and culture

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

The agency I went through suggested many schools that were around the same price range. Check out Ecole L’etoile or campus de langues for a great quality education and reasonable price range.

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

My first host family spoke strictly French and through that and translators I picked it up quickly. School is your best bet. It is easy to live here and speak only English so beware not to fall into habit of using your native toungue if you want to learn French. Test yourself and try. The French appreciate it, if you are wrong they can correct you and that’s how we learn.

Also use tinder. You guys must think I am some tinder freak, but just try it before judging. You don’t need to meet people in person but the initial introductions and small talk in French will help you improve at least your writing skills.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

How did you improve your language skills?

Again, tinder. Also watch french movies and TV series with english subtitles. So embarrassing to admit.

Any tips for those learning a new language?

TRY. Whether you fail or succeed. Keep trying. One day you will get it.

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

Absolutely, now I speak enough French to get by. Though it’s more Franglish than proper French I can understand most of the language. It is much harder to speak than to understand.

Life after being an Au Pair

How has being an au pair changed you?

Yes. I realize I want to be a writer because of the endless stories that were inspired by my au pairing experiences. I also realize I don’t want kids….

Totally kidding. But I realize the amount of energy, discipline, and work that goes into being a caretaker. Au pairing is similar to a mom in training course. It is hard work and not always fun. The kids become extremely important characters in your life. The leaving is always difficult but because of the experience I appreciate my own mother more than ever. I have realized that the kids look up to you and how important it is to portray a good example/role model for the kids. I think in a sense I grew up more than the kids.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

Would you do au pairing again?

Absolutely. I actually am continuing.

Would you recommend au pairing to others? And why?

Yes, 1000 percent. If you think you want kids, au pair. If you think that you never want kids, au pair. If you are curious about starting a new life for yourself, au pair. If you want to be cultured, adventure, a funny story, excitement, or change of scenery, au pair.

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

Do your research before committing to a family. Talk to the families previous au pair, and get weekends off. I committed Monday-Friday to work and school (french classes). Weekends were the time I took to experience the “je ne sais quoi” about Paris.

Also, traveiling is too convenient and cheap to pass up. You will be more than able to take weekend trips to Spain, Germany, other parts of France, and all over Europe Friday night- Sunday evening.

Brooke Au Pair in Paris, France, The Au Pair Series

Find out more about Brooke on her various social media platforms:

Hey there future au pairs! I was you once upon a time. I am currently living in Paris as a live out au pair. I watch an adorable 5 year old girl Monday through Friday, babysit once a week and get weekends free to wander. I am a lifestyle/comedy blogger as well and write about all my wild adventures in Paris via lostinpari.blogspot.com

Blog: lostinpari.blogspot.com   |   Email: brookesapp1@gmail.com

Instagram: brookesapp

The Au Pair Series: Caitlin in the South of France

The Au Pair Series: Caitlin in the South of France

Becoming an Au Pair

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Caitlin Houston! I’m a 20 year old living near Glasgow, in Scotland. I study International Business with Modern Languages (French, Spanish & Italian) at the University of Strathclyde. I’m just starting my third year of University, and next year I’ll be studying in France for a full year!

Where and when were you an au pair?

I was in au pair in the Summer of 2015 in the South of France. I lived in a tiny village in the Midi- Pyrenees, called Mazères, that I imagine you wouldn’t really know unless you were from there/had friends there. It was very small and so cute, and had such a buzz around it for such a small village! I was around 30 minutes away from Toulouse and 40 minutes away from Carcassone, but very remote and in the countryside. It was beautiful. I au paired for 3 beautiful girls, aged 8 months, 3 years and 9 years old. My host mum was an air hostess (but still on maternity leave), and my host dad is a pilot on long haul flights.

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

I’ve studied French since high school, but my French grades at university weren’t what I wanted them to be. It was a shame, because I LOVE French, and I love studying it, but I just wasn’t doing well in class at all. I struggled with my confidence and had issues with basic French conjugations that I really should have known by my 2nd year at university. I’ve heard time and time again that the best way to learn a language is to live in the country where they speak the language for an extended period of time, and so that’s what I did.

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

My main aim for my summer was to improve my French. I knew that I had to do something if I wanted to keep up with everyone on my course, and then go on to study for a year in France (starting in 2016). I wanted to immerse myself in the culture and learn loads about France and the way of life, to see if I was still as passionate about my languages as I thought I was! Then, if I was lucky (which I undoubtably was), I wanted to be able to find a “home away from home”, and create a situCaitlin Au Pair in South of Franceation where I could stay in touch with my host family.

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

I was very organised finding my au pair family. I wanted to arrive in June, and started searching for a family probably some time around January/February. I used aupairworld.com – an amazing site that made everything so easy for me. You set up your own profile with small paragraphs about yourself and pictures, and then send private messages to families that fit your criteria, and they can send messages to you. It made me feel more relaxed and secure, as I didn’t have to give out my email address to anyone I was wary of this way. I emailed my host mum (to be) and she replied quickly, and I just fell in love with her family. From there it all went quite fast, and I’m sure within 3 emails back and forward to each other we both agreed we were happy for me to come and be their au pair. I would absolutely recommend AuPairWorld for any au pairs coming from the EU, the whole process was very easy. The website also features guides on each country and their au pair laws and even provides a copy of the au pair contract, which I found interesting to read as part of my preparation.

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’m sure as any au pair going to a foreign country might find, I found it a bit awkward for my first week or so! I can remember sitting in my bedroom on the first morning and I could hear the whole family was awake and downstairs eating breakfast. I must have sat in my bed for around 10/15 minutes before I decided to go downstairs to join them because I was so nervous! The language barrier was obviously difficult at first, but my host parent’s English level is fantastic.. so I always had the option to speak English if I needed to. This helped a lot as well for when I couldn’t think of a word I needed in French.. I could easily just ask them and they could give me the word I needed. We spoke a lot of “FrEnglish” which was so fun! I don’t feel like there’s much I would have liked to have known in advance, but I wish I had been more prepared. I left without things like my grammar book and dictionary, which would have been a big help if I’d had them all with me. I wasn’t in the mindset to “study” while I was away, but I feel like if I had been I could have learned even more than I did. I also wish I’d prepared basic phrases to use with the children before I got there, like basic commands and questions.

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France
Life as an Au air

What was your daily routine like as an Au Pair? 

I wasn’t in too much of a routine when I was away because I au paired in the summer holidays, and so every day was different. I also didn’t have set “working hours”, which other au pairs I met found strange.. but it worked perfectly for me! We lived in the middle of nowhere and there wasn’t much to do, so I didn’t mind keeping myself busy all the time. I bonded more with the girls I was watching because I felt more like a big sister to them and not at all like an employee or nanny.

Generally speaking though, I would wake up around about 8/9am and get ready.. depending on when my host mum needed me. I would usually watch the girls in the morning while my host mum would run some errands/do her gym classes etc. Then it just depended on the plans for the day!

We would go for walks, paint, draw, play in the garden, visit the town and other surrounding areas etc etc. Then at bed time, we would maybe watch a bit of television, then I would watch the 7 month old baby while my host mum put the 3 year old to bed. I’d give the baby her bottle, she’d normally fall asleep.. and then bed time for everyone!

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

I was an au pair for the 3 month summer holiday so I didn’t have a routine outside of this time! My host family were so accommodating, and gave me plenty of time to myself during the summer which they really didn’t have to. I was very lucky! I was able to travel to different parts of France: Rodez (where my host family’s mum is from), Sete (where I got to see one of my fav French artists at an amazing venue!), Toulouse, Carcassone, the beach a few times (I can’t remember the name of the town, oops!).. and more!!

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

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

Best experiences:

All in all, I had an amazing summer in France. I can’t pick one memory that means more to me than the others. One particular time that sticks in my mind was when the little village I stayed in had a huge Medieval party one weekend and it was crazy.. I loved that!! It was so different from anything I’d seen before and I struggled to take it all in!! I also got to see the Tour de France go by when it was in it’s 13th stage (I think) at Rodez!! It was amazing, such a buzz!! I also loved visiting Sete and watching one of my favourite French singers, Tal, perform live!! The venue – Théatre de la mer – was amazing as it looked over the sea!

Some of my favourite memories are the simplest – walking down the stairs every morning to see the baby laughing at me in her high chair; the 3 year old running up to me and shouting my name as “Cli-Clin” because she was too young to pronounce it properly; over-hearing the oldest girl proudly introduce me to her school friends when they first met me; and drinking wine until the sun went down and talking in to the night with my host parents about everything and anything.

All in all.. I cannot chose my best experiences as an au pair, but can only say that being an au pair has been the best experience of my life to date. My summer was filled with lots of tiny, precious memories that I will keep with me forever. I have changed so much as a person after my summer away, and I know it’s for the better.

Difficult experiences:

I’ve changed the title here to “difficult” experiences, because I was lucky enough to not really have any particularly “worst” experiences.
I wasn’t a typical au pair in the way that you’re expecting me to say I was homesick in this section. I did not miss home at all, and could have stayed with my family for even longer if I could have. However, it’s the strong bond that I made with my family that in turn turned out to be one of the most difficult things for me to manage. I genuinely was/am so emotionally attached to my family that when the family was struggling with something I felt like I struggled with it too. I really struggled when my summer came to an end. I cried so much during my last few nights in France and I was heart broken on the morning I’d to leave. I couldn’t stop crying. I was in the airport and still sobbing away to myself. It’s actually something I’m still really finding difficult with today and I’ve been home for a month.

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

I had a grand total of ZERO problems with my host family!! I absolutely love them to bits, and will always have a huge space for them in my heart for as long as I live. They’ve given me more than I could have ever imagined from my au pair experience. The biggest problem I had was getting the 3 year old to eat her dinner BEFORE her ice cream… and if that’s the only problem I had, I know I am truly lucky.

 Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

Socializing and leisure

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

I joined a Facebook group called “Au Pairs in Toulouse 2014-2015” which let me talk to a few au pair girls not too far from me. Toulouse was a bit of a way out from my little village, so I only met the the girls once or twice. If I had lived more centrally/been able to drive confidently I could have met them more often, but it was nice just to talk to them by Facebook and compare experiences/ tips etc.

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

At first I struggled to fit in with the community on nights out because I didn’t feel like I could communicate and I was nervous that I would embarrass my host family with my poor French. Once I could chat more confidently I felt so much more involved and got to know lots of family friends and their children. Everyone I met were always so lovely and very welcoming.

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

Learning the language and culture

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

I study French at university so thankfully I didn’t struggle as much as I could have if I’d had no prior knowledge of the French language at all. I could understand basic phrases and (sort of) hold my own in a conversation, and I progressed every day.

How did you improve your language skills?

I spoke French all the time with the family. That was my main method of learning. I would write down new words I learned in casual conversation in my vocabulary book and tried to use them as often as I could so I wouldn’t forget. I also watched a lot of English films on Netflix with French subtitles, and sometimes watched them in French with English subtitles. That helped a lot because I could then relate the two languages to each other. I also picked up reading the French Cosmopolitan magazine, and have even subscribed to it from Scotland as well now!!

Any tips for those learning a new language?

I would say find a way of studying you enjoy. If you don’t have an interest in French politics – don’t force yourself to read articles in French on them. Equally, if you don’t enjoy French music – don’t torment yourself by trying to translate songs you can’t stand listening to. Creating a pleasant study environment is half the battle, and if you can bring something you are passionate for in English in to learning a foreign language then you’re half way there. You’ll enjoy learning a language and absent-mindedly progress all the time. For me, I bring my love of all things Disney in to my French studies! I love watching Disney films in French that I already know so well in English and find it so interesting. I also love studying with music – so I listen to a lot of French artists and play them in the background when I’m getting ready in the morning etc. Do things that you love in English in your chosen foreign language, and you’ll come on leaps and bounds.

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

Absolutely. I feel like my confidence has improved more than anything, so now even if I’m conjugating incorrectly.. at least I’m conjugating! I can make sense of a lot more French as I read/ hear it around me. I’ve just had my first French class back at uni after my summer away and I feel so much more confident. More than anything – my summer away has made me even more passionate for the French language than I ever was before, and given me the motivation I’ve needed so that I can keep progressing even more now I’m back at university.

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

Life after being an Au Pair

How has being an au pair changed you?

Words will never be able to describe how much one short summer changed me! I found myself a whole new family, a whole new understanding of what it’s like to be French and a whole new way of thinking about my studies and my life at home! I feel more confident in myself and love France so much more than I thought I would. It was an experience that was genuinely invaluable for me for so many reasons and I’ll be forever grateful for my summer in France!!

Would you do au pairing again?

Absolutely, in a heart beat! If I could leave now I would. However, in the mean-time I’m hoping to return to my family again next summer if they’ll have me!

Would you recommend au pairing to others? And why?

Yes! I would recommend it particularly to every language student who wants to progress in their chosen language. There is no better way to learn French in a casual, understanding environment where you can have fun and create a genuine bond with the people you are technically “working” with. You don’t just learn the language – you learn so much culturally and about life in general. I was so lucky in finding my family and if you can match yourself to a family as well as I did, then I know for sure you’ll have such a positive experience like I did.

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

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

Like I said, I was so lucky with finding my family. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories, so I would generally recommend thoroughly researching your family before you agree to go with anyone. Do NOT feel pressured to say yes to a family (I did a few times during my search). If it doesn’t feel right or you simply don’t want to/have changed your mind – trust your gut instinct. Potential host families are not your bosses yet during the initial chats, and they need you just as much as you need to find them, so take charge! Be polite, obviously, but don’t let anyone make you feel uncomfortable. Ask for references from previous au pairs/nannies and speak to them as often as you can before you leave, via Skype/FaceTime/Email.. anything!! If you are leaving with any doubt in your mind about your family and the conditions you’ll be staying in I’d definitely have another look at the situation. Have a back up plan incase something isn’t as you imagined it. Thankfully I didn’t need it, but I had back up money in my bank account in case of an emergency.

Overall (and on a more cheery note).. just throw yourself in! Don’t sit in your room too much! Speak the language! Go and play with the kids! Pick them up when they’ve fallen and skinned their knee, read them a bed time story at night, play hide and seek and chase them around the garden! It’s you who has the ability to CHOSE to be a member of your host family! You get out of the situation what you put in, and I promise it will be 100% worth it… and you will love your host family as much as I do mine.

Caitlin Au Pair in South of France

Find out more about Caitlin on her various social media platforms:

My name is Caitlin! I’m an International Business & Languages student in Glasgow, Scotland. I started my blog to inspire more people to au pair and to keep track of my travel experiences while I was away. I’m home just now and unfortunately my blog wasn’t as developed as it could have been (I was so busy this summer!!) but I’ll hopefully add more to it in the coming months as I look ahead to my year abroad. You can follow me & my Scottish/French nonsense on twitter and instagram!

Blog: caitlinaupair.wordpress.com
Twitter: @houstyx   |   Instagram:@houstyx