One thing I have encountered time and time again when meeting fellow au pairs here in London is a lack of understanding for those of us who aren’t here to learn english. This can range from polite enquiries to the not so polite “So why are you even an au pair?” accusations, as though I am invading a secret society to which I haven’t received the special key for. I don’t blame the au pairs who have these questions, as I’m sure 80% of girls doing the au pair thing in London are here to learn english. So I thought I would write this to shed some light on the subject! Here’s to all the Canadians, Americans, Aussies and more who are with me on this! Disclaimer: these examples are all my own and may not apply to everyone (I’m probably missing some).
A new culture
Believe it or not, Canada is very different than the UK. And while I may not be having many Lost in Translation moments, getting to know London’s culture and people is both exciting and interesting. British politeness and Londoner’s nature of keeping to themselves for instance- I once spilled coffee all over myself in a coffee shop and immediately looked up to see if anyone would laugh with me about it, only to find that everyone was still going about their business, not daring to make eye contact.
This is a huge one. Even the ability to live in another country so far from home is enough to us to become an au pair. Even more exciting are the possibilities for travel once you are already here. Jet off to Paris for the weekend? How about a couple nights in Switzerland or Germany? Not that I have done any of these… but the fact that they are a possibility is magical.
Being a big sister
Some of us are the youngest sibling, or have no siblings at all I’m sure! Having spent our adolescent being bossed around by older siblings, we thought we should give it a try. (This one is mostly a joke. Mostly..)
We all love kids… at least I hope you do if you become an au pair. Being paid to look after them for 6 hours a day while not having to pay for food or rent sounds like a sweet deal to me, no matter what country you’re in.
Maybe this is more specific to me, but my main reason for coming here was a craving for change that wouldn’t be satisfied staying in my hometown or even Canada. Making good friends from around the world and finding you way in a city as dynamic as London is more rewarding than I can put into words. Living the London life is exactly what I need before going to university back in Canada.
I know there are so many other reasons for being an au pair and everyone is different, but these 5 things are what I personally feel are most important. I’m sure most au pairs have some of these reasons in common!