Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cultural differences

For me the au pair experience is first about cultural exchange. Of course, a good au pair must love children and take care of them very well. However, when you live in another country with a host family you don't really know very well there will be differences. I said differences not issues or problems because I think most "problems" or "issues" stem from cultural differences. Of course, there might be valid problems as well with a host family or au pair such as parents who do not discipline their children or an au pair who is very homesick. Noone can disregard these and they should be addressed.

Every culture/society in the world has different ways to do different things. Even in Europe itself, people have different driving habits in Italy than in UK. In most mediterranean countries, people eat dinner late, live more laidback lifestyles and are more family oriented.

My best suggestion for au pairs and families is to research each other's culture very well. After all, hosting an au pair or being an au pair centers around cultural exchange. Children must fully participate in learning about au pair's culture if they are not too young. People who understand the cultural differences have better luck with the au pair program than people do not. Learn about the world and have fun!

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