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What is an “Au Pair”?

My Aupairworld profile was really really basic. I didn’t have any pictures of me, only a few information, because I just wanted to browse to gain more knowledge about other Aupairs’ experiences, nevertheless several families wrote me.

So I started chatting with a couple of families from Germany – because it’s in Germany that I wanted to go initially – and I had seriously begun thinking of doing this kind of experience for real. I mean, my classes at University ended on the last days of May, exams probably in the end of June that year, so basically I was free in July and August and then, in September I could go back to University for the autumn session.

But the first problem I had was that it ws really hard to find a family for a short period of time like one or two month or, however, during the summer. What I had noticed was that families generally wanted an Au Pair from September, when schools start, or ok ,from July as well, but then for six more months or one year, that means till schools finish again. Yes, because you have to know that families in general prefer having an Au Pair for quite a long period, because it’s better for their children. And that’s absolutely clear: could you think about changing Au Pair every four weeks or something like that? It would be awful. Children need their usual routine and to be used to the same person.

But what does the word “Au Pair” mean?

An Au Pair is basically a young person who goes abroad to live with a host family for a defined period of time and within the context of a cultural exchange. By living with their host family, Au Pairs have the opportunity to know a new culture, improve a language and to gain some valuable experience abroad basically without spending money. In exchange, the Au Pair helps the host family with childcare and light housework, but they should not be considered as domestic help, nor as cleaners: they are supposed to be treated like a member of the family. That means the Au Pair is entitled to his or her own room in the host family’s home and should be given free access to food and drink in the home and share meals with the host family.

In addition to free board and lodging, au pairs receive a pocket money from their host families. The amount varies according to the relevant host country and the city in which they live.

Wow, that sounded great to me!

So when I saw that I coudn’t do it for that moment I was a little bit sad, but University was more important. I’d get another opportunity in the future.

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