4 Things to Know About Living With a Host Family when Working as an Au-Pair
Are you considering a cultural exchange work abroad program like au-pairing? Some of these options involve living with a host family and you might be interested to know what this involves.
Alecia Weaver went to work as an au pair and this was her first time living with a host family. She has written a guide to what you need to know about living with a host family and top tips how to copy with your new living/working environment.
1. Strangers are now responsible for your safety
You’ve been on a plane for hours, gone through countless security checkpoints, battled customs, and now you’re finally settled into your host family’s home. Back at your college this may have been when you would get crazy, but remember, you are now living as a member of a family. These strangers are responsible for your well-being.
Give your host mom and dad a quick heads up about where you’re headed and when you’ll be back. You may feel like you’re back in high school checking in with your parents, but remember, it’s only polite to keep them in the loop for their own peace of mind. And if you say you’ll be home by 5AM, try to get back around that time otherwise your host mom may be waiting up for you until you roll in at 7AM.
2. Food is going to be different, neither good or bad
Coming from a college diet of greasy pizza and cheap Mexican food, your culinary options will likely be very different. When au pairing in Italy, it will be pasta for breakfast and if you choose to work in Japan, you will be swimming in rice. If your host family is cooking for you, be polite and taste it. Try everything once, no matter what. After that, try it a second time. You may be grossed out, surprised or delighted. And if you really don’t like a particular dish, respectfully let them know it’s not your favorite and thank them for making it anyway!
3. Host families can help with difficult situations in foreign countries
You’re on the phone with a taxi driver trying to instruct them on where you live in Quito, Ecuador. This has been going on unsuccessfully for fifteen minutes. Now is the time you say, “Madre, help me por favor!” Next thing you know, a taxi is at your door and your host mom is giving them directions on where to drop you.
Or you’re attempting to get the wireless internet modem running. It won’t connect and you’ve been saying “no esta funcionando” on repeat, but the Peruvian IT guy just can’t seem to help. Two minutes on the phone with your host dad, and you have Facebook access again. Don’t forget to say, “muchas gracias!”
4. You host family wants to get to know you
This can be hard for some students. You’ve been away at college, living parent-free, and suddenly two adults are extremely curious about you and your life. Maybe you’re an only child and now you have two young host siblings running around your ankles all day. That’s the point of living with a host family when working abroad though, communication and exchange between people with different backgrounds. It’ll be weird; it’ll be different; it’ll be wonderful. Don’t forget to thank your new mom and dad for letting you into their home and being a part of their family!
There are so reasons to work as an au pair, I really loved the experience of working in Italy and was lucky my host family were fantastic, although the whole experience does take a little time to get used to at first.
By Alecia Weaver