Friday, September 14, 2007

Homesickness

Most au pairs are young women who are separated from their family for the first time. Homesickness is a big issue for many of the au pairs I got to know. If you are feeling homesick, you are not alone. My solution to homesickness was to surround myself with other au pairs. I feel better when I am surrounded with people I have something in common with. In this case, it's homesickness. As I made more friends and got to know my environment I felt better and started enjoying the au pair experience more.

I think it's a good idea to make a list of the goals you wanna achieve during your stay in a foreign country. Is it learning a new language, culture, see new places, improve your childcare skills...? Look at the list once a week, keep a diary or a blog! It's a great idea to take a look at the list once a week and record what you have done to accomplish your goals. When there are goals to accomplish you can look into the future and see how much you can gain by this experience. This will give you the strength to go on and enjoy your time in a new country.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Culture shock

Primary goal of the au pair life is to get to know another culture and language while living and taking care of a family's children. Number of au pairs complain that they are not compatible with their host family. The problem might also be the culture shock and people may not realise it.

It is not possible to move to another country and pick up the culture right away. Things will be different, perhaps much different, than your home country. Study the language and culture beforehand. Choose a country that you are really interested in getting to know. Different cultures do things differently around the world. That doesn't mean one way is right or wrong. Au pair candidate must keep an open mind and be interested in learning different lifestyles.

Same applies to the hosting family as well. Most host families like the concept of au pair because they have intensive travel experience. Some host mothers might have been au pairs when they were younger. Other families might simply want to expose their children to foreign cultures and languages. In any case, the au pair should also be ready to represent her country and culture.