Tips on How to Have the Best Au Pair Experience


Ciao amici!

Would you like to be paid to live somewhere beautiful? And meanwhile have your food included in your stay? Plus work only 6 hours a day and then have weekends free? Then you might want to try Au Pairing, an unconventional yet extremely rewarding job. Au Pairing is simply a job where, if you are between the age of 18 and 30, you can stay at a family's house and in exchange for all that’s given take care and/or teach your native language to the children of the home. Essentially, it’s a win-win situation because both parties get the experience of immersion. With a good set schedule you can work during some of the day and then have nights free, weekends available for more activities, and a bit of pocket money for souvenirs. 


Overall, I feel as if those who want to spend their winter or summer exploring the world should try Au Pairing at least once, as it truly does take you out of your comfort zone even if you’re an extrovert. You can explore such beautiful places that otherwise you’d never visit. Perhaps you could even meet your very best friend (cough cough, I did).


As this is a complete and comprehensive guide, here is a table of contents.


  1. Where do I Sign Up/Learn More

  2. Do I Need a Contract? What should be in it?

  3. Essential Things to Know/Bring/Have

  4. Things to know when Planning to Au Pair in Italy

  5. Extra: What I and my fellow Au Pair (and best friend, Lily) did in Sicily for a month

  6. Extra extra: Julissa’s experience in Paris!

  7. More Resources/How to Find them

  8. Final Words


  1. Where Do I Sign Up/Learn More?


AuPair.com or AuPairWorld are the most well known and safe sites to use. I’d recommend it over utilizing Facebook or any other sites to find a job. Plus, the amount of extra resources and people you can get connected with are plentiful.


  1. Do I Need a Contract? What should be in it?


You most certainly do. I’ll even provide you with a base template of a contract. Here it is linked. The contract was used by a friend who had very little complaints from her Au Pair experience.


Also, here’s a small rundown of the contract. Make sure to have these things set up:


  1. The specifics of your job. You might think this is obvious, but it’s not. Are you simply speaking with the children in English or are you tutoring? Are you having all meals with the family? Is there a dress code with the children? Figure these things out.

  2. The hours you’re working. Anything between 2-8 hours in a day, all depending on what you both want out of it. If the job is too lenient then the host family may feel like not much is being done and you may become frustrated because you’ve overall not done anything wrong.

  3. Boundaries and your expectations must be set from day one so that both you and your host family get the most out of the experience. 

  4. Your weekly/monthly pay. Must I say more?


  3.  Essential Things to Know/Bring/Have:


  • You are living in someone else’s home. That means they will treat you like family, but out of kindness, you should try to keep your room tidy. You’re not their cleaning lady though, so you do not have to do anything crazy. Just do your laundry, stay a bit organized, and clean after yourself.

  • Bring only the necessities. Enough clothing to last you a bit but know you can do laundry. You may also buy some clothes while you’re there. Also, bring just a few books, not too much school work, and don’t bring all your hobbies with you. You will not have enough time to do everything you want while you’re here and that’s okay. Live in the present and soak in the new place in all its glory.

  • Have data at all times. You will probably be going out late at night exploring and you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t communicate with your family/friends or your host family. 


4. Things to know when Planning to Au Pair in Italy


Legally in Italy there isn’t a minimal pay that Au Pair’s must be given while they’re working. However, this is where the importance of the contract comes into play. If not, Au Pair’s can be overworked and underpaid easily. In the context of working as an Au Pair in Italy you should be paid a minimum of 300 EU a month. This normal Au Pair job can consist of a situation like this: Two well-behaved kids that know enough English to hold a conversation, working 6 hours a day, having weekends off, and ⅔ of your meals included. 


Furthermore, I know of group chats for Rome, Sicily, Venice, and for the entirety of Italy. Thus, if this is a destination you’re interested in then there is a demand. Also, since FUS is in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland improving your Italian always could come in handy in Ticino.


  1. Extra: What I and my fellow Au Pair (and best friend, Lily) did in Sicily for a month


Basically, Lily was the example I explained earlier. She worked 6 hours a day by speaking with an 8 year old boy and a 10 year old girl all in English. They played card games, went to the beach every day together, and she helped them with their English homework. I, on the other hand, tutored a 13 year old girl for an average of 1.5 hours a day every day of the week, played English card games with a 10 year old, went to the beach, and shared meals with my host family while speaking in English.


Two of my favorite photos from ~ nightlife ~ :)

(Keep in mind we were vaccinated and in a white zone in Sicily 

so not wearing our masks was allowed).


Our experience (besides from working) in bullet points:


  • We both improved our Italian a LOT. She started from zero and now knows lots of common phrases. I had a year here at FUS and now can hold a conversation (sorta) confidently. Don’t try me please;

  • Made local friends who we saw basically every night while there and now we want to meet annually. They were so sweet and I miss them oh so much;

  • Got treated like celebrities because the city we stayed in basically never got tourists so English speakers were deemed as rare (it was kinda insane);

  • Experienced Italy winning the UEFA Euro Football (American soccer) 2020 Cup!

  • Had both a surfing and skateboarding lesson (for free!).

  • Went to nearby touristy historical towns free of charge and saw beautiful views


  1. Extra extra: Julissa’s experience in Paris!


Some photos and a short interview with Julissa M, a current sophomore at FUS.


  • Where were you?


Julissa: I was in Paris, France! I lived in the 7th arrondissement, right next to the Eiffel Tower.


  • How long were you there?


Julissa: I was there for 3 months!


  • How much did you work? What did you do? So hours a day, how much teaching/if you nannied


Julissa: I was supposed to work 30 hours but my host mom and I cut it to 25, so like 5 or 6 hours/day Monday-Friday. I helped get the kids ready for school in the morning and brought them to school. I had a few hours of free time until I would pick up the family’s toddler. Then I would babysit her until I had to pick up their older child from his school. I helped with some other tasks like cooking, tidying, and laundry, but that was mainly it! 


  • One or two personal tips on how you made your experience great:


Julissa: Find friends ASAP! If your Au Pair situation is not going ideally, you definitely want a good support group in the same city as you. They’ll also help to venture out because you won’t have to do it alone. Also, Communicate! You have to be open and honest with your host family if there are issues with the children or if you’re being overworked. Chances are, they will listen and work with you. And if they aren’t willing to do this, then you should probably find another family.


  1. More Resources/How to Find them:


Once again, the group chats! They’re made solely for other Au Pair’s to connect and get more jobs between themselves. These group chats are safe to look for on Facebook because after a quick screening you can get let in and talk to others your age. They are a safe chat where people can disclose their experiences in full detail and get advice from those who know what to do in even dire situations because Au Pairing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Some people have been taken advantage of and made into a full-time nanny (for a newborn!) or their cleaning lady. This can happen if you are not aware of your own rights. Remember, you are working for them but you are not their servant. 


  1. Final words


And on that necessary yet dark note, I believe you are ready to experience Au Pairing. It’s the perfect way to travel the world on a budget. And if you’re an introvert it can truly get you out of your own shell. You can meet lifelong friends, make connections with another family you can call yours, and overall have an amazing experience in a new place. See, as an Au Pair you can live life as a local, which is such a special experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.


To our next meet up via the web!


P.S. I’m looking for guest writers! If you want to contribute to Adventures At Franklin then email marketing@fus.edu.


Ci vediamo presto!

(We will see eachother soon),


Lara







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