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Spend your Au Pair stay on an island

by JuliaReading time: 7 min.
Spend your Au Pair stay on an island
There are a lot of things to do after your graduation: you can take a gap year and travel the world, work as an intern in a company or immerse into another culture while living with a Host Family. You already did some research and you’re sure that an Au Pair year would be right for you? But you don’t want to have one of those run-of-the-mill stays abroad like London, Paris or the USA? Well, then we may have a pretty exciting idea for you!
Why not au pair on an island far away? Due to the fact that many European countries built colonies in the past, some of the most beautiful islands officially belong to the EU. And as an EU citizen you can enter this territory without applying for a visa. As a Non-Eu Au Pair you can still apply for a visa just as you would do with any other continental EU country. In this blog post we have gathered a list of the 10 most amazing and out-of-the-box places to au pair in!

1. La Réunion 

La Réunion (or sometimes just called Réunion) is an overseas department of France. It’s around 700 km east from Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The island has been a colony from the 16th century, therefore French is the official language there. The majority of people also speak Réunion Creole which is a mixture of French, Malagasy, Portuguese, Tamil and Hindi. So even if you already speak French on an advanced level you can still learn a new language and have a head start with your previous skills. At the moment around 865.000 people live on the island and enjoy a tropical climate. If you become an Au Pair in Réunion you can benefit from the diversity of the island: you can climb and hike mountains or lay on the beach and enjoy the beautiful unique sunset.

2. Martinique 

Martinique belongs to the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea and is a French overseas department just like La Réunion. However, the islands has less inhabitants: around 380.000 people live in Martinique. Christopher Columbus visited the island in 1502 but the Spanish settlers were not interested in the island. So the French settlers landed in Martinique in the 17th century and claimed the island for Louis XIII, the French king of that time. Still today, the official language is French and everybody can speak it. Nonetheless, more and more people in Martinique also rediscover Antillean Creole, a language based on French but with Carib, African, English, Portuguese and Spanish influences. As an Au Pair in Martinique you can choose whether to improve your French, learn a new language or do both! In any case your French skills will help you. Another reason to au pair on this island: the nature is breathtaking. Since some parts of the island are still heavily forested you will see some species both in plants and in animals that you might have never seen before. 

3. Azores 

The Azores are built of nine volcanic islands and are an autonomous region of Portugal. Therefore, the islands are in the European Union and Schengen Area. This beautiful group of islands is located in the North Atlantic Ocean in the West of continental Portugal. You’re wondering why you should become an Au Pair on the Azores? We have a full list of good reasons for you: the weather is fantastic, especially if you don’t like the cold European climate. Thanks to the passing Gulf Stream the climate is very mild averaging between 16°C and 25°C and thus, having the warmest winters in Europe. Moreover, the people living on the Azores speak Portuguese, so you can improve your language skills and still immerse into a whole new culture. Since there are nine islands and various cultural influences, you can find a different culture, cuisine and traditions in every region. There is always something new to discover! The Azores are a beautiful destination for your Au Pair stay promising an extraordinary experience!

4. New Caledonia 

Located in the Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is about 1.200 km from Australia and is parted into three provinces. In sum, ca. 270.000 people live on New Caledonia. The island was named after the latin name for Scotland since the island reminded British explorer James Cook of the country. In the 19th century the French overtook the island during the reign of Napoléon III. New Caledonia is not only a mesmerizing island, it’s also the perfect spot for language nerd! Not only can you level up your French but also dive into Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Drehu or one of the other 35 native languages! And there are 28 languages spoken by the Kanak an indigenous group on the island. And did you know that New Caledonia has the richest diversity in animal and plants species in the world (per square kilometre)? You will definitely be able to tell a lot of interesting stories after your Au Pair stay! 

5. Guadeloupe 

Guadeloupe is another French overseas territory, however, it doesn’t belong to the Schengen area. Guadeloupe is divided into six inhabited islands and many smaller ones which are not inhabited. The native Arawak people called the island Karukera which means “The Island of Beautiful Water”. So, you can imagine that Guadeloupe is worth the journey! Located in the Caribbean, Christopher Columbus named the island Guadeloupe when he, as the first European, first saw it. Not only has the island a tropical climate and only two seasons: the “dry” (January to June) and the “wet” one (from July to December). It’s also home of some of the cutest animals there are: racoons, agouti and mongoose. You don’t know what a mongoose or an agouti look like? Take your time to find some pictures and book your flight ticket to Guadeloupe! The island’s official language is of course French. Since most of the population can also speak Guadeloupean Creole, you will have the chance to acquire some knowledge in a new language though! 

6. Mayotte 

Since 1841 Mayotte belongs to France and is considered an overseas department of France. The island is located in the Indian Ocean northwestern from Madagascar. Interestingly, the island which has around 270.000 inhabitants, is not completely french-speaking. Actually, the majority of the people does not speak the language as a first language and only half of them learn it as a second language. So, if you’re open to a vast variety of different languages, Mayotte could be for you. The native languages of the island are Shimaore which is a dialect of the Comorian languages and closely related to Swahili, and Kibushi, related to Malagasy. Moreover, a lot of people speak Kiantalaotsi which is not only influenced by Malagasy but also Shimaore and Arabic. And that’s not all: some people in Mayotte also speak Arabic as their second language and other dialects which derive from African languages. Listen carefully, polyglottes, Mayotte is for you!

7. French Guiana 

Yet another French overseas department, French Guiana is located on the Atlantic coast of Southern America neighbouring Brazil and Suriname. Most of the inhabitants live in the capital Cayenne because almost 99% of the country is covered by forests. If you always wanted to visit the rainforest, the Guiana Amazonian Park is for you. It also has a tropical climate which lets the local plants thrive. Previously inhabited by Native Americans, Guiana was designated as French territory at the end of the 18th century. Despite French being the official language and being spoken by most people as a first or second language, there are local languages in each community like French Guianese Creole, Amerindian languages or Maroon creole languages. Furthermore, you will find Portuguese-, Spanish, Dutch, English and Tamil-speaking people in French Guiana which adds to the multicultural vibe the island offers. What better place to integrate with yet another cultural background, right?

8. French Polynesia 

French Polynesia, not to be confused with French Guiana, is an overseas collectivity of France and is located in the South Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for the perfect beach during your Au Pair stay you will find plenty since the department consists of 118 different islands. First, the Portuguese explorers discovered the islands in the 16th century, later also British settlers showed interest in the territory. Finally, the islands were colonized by France - the reasons why French is the only official language in French Polynesia nowadays. But also Tahitian and other languages from the region are being used frequently. You love sports? Then you should definitely give French Polynesia a try! The islands are not only known for their football team, you can also learn how to surf: Teahupo'o, a local surfing hotspot, is internationally known for the best waves in the world. Obviously, French Polynesia is the perfect location for divers and everyone who wants to learn it. Check out Rangiroa and Fakarava if you’re interested in the topic. But that’s not all: also Rugby is very popular in the region. And last but not least, there is the traditional sport of va'a. The word means something like “boat” and is quite similar to what we know as canoeing.

9. Wallis and Futuna 

Not far away from French Polynesia you can find another French island collectivity: Wallis and Futuna named after British explorer Samuel Wallis. Around 11,500 inhabitants live on the three volcanic main islands. What is really special about this location is the variety of different mammals. If you like marine animals you should come to Wallis and Futuna to experience your Au Pair adventure: you will have the chance to see a huge number of whales, dolphins and porpoises. In contrast to other French overseas territories, the people in Wallis and Futuna speak Wallisian, Futunan and only around 12% of the population speaks French. Pro tip: speaking the language of the people will make your experience even more authentic and fruitful. Learn to say that you’re interested in their culture and you will see how open they will be to integrate you and show you everything about their traditions!

10. Saint Pierre and Miquelon 

You cannot decide whether you want to au pair in Canada or in France? Well, then Saint Pierre and Miquelon is the perfect compromise! The French self-governing territorial overseas collectivity is very close to the Canadian regions of Labrador and Newfoundland. As an Au Pair on this island, you’ll join a very exclusive club since there are only 6,000 inhabitants. Additional plus: in spring you’ll be able to see the whale migration to Greenlands which is clearly an once-in-a-lifetime experience. But don’t go there if you’re lacking of orientation: there are no street names on the islands. Instead, the people created nicknames for popular places. Saint Pierre and Miquelon are said to be the closest overseas territory when it comes to language and culture. There is almost no difference in dialect regarding metropolitan French. It’s even closer than the Canadian French.
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