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Au Pair experience: Caterina in Belgium

by Sabrina on Apr 29, 2024
Au Pair experience: Caterina in Belgium
Hello, my name is Caterina, I am 18 years old and I live in Milan. In the summer of 2023, I was an Au Pair in Belgium, more precisely in the small town of Waterloo, half an hour by train from the center of Brussels.
After several searches in late May, I was contacted by the family who then hosted me, and in early July I left. I did not know what to expect, none of my acquaintances had ever been an Au Pair I had only read a few testimonials on the Internet, but I was very much looking forward to this experience.
My Host Family, who had already hosted Au Pairs with whom they had put me in touch, was formed by the two parents, an American-born father and an Italian-born mother, a one-and-a-half-year-old girl, two cats and two dogs who from the start were very welcoming. During the first weekend, I spent a lot of time with the family getting to know each other and they showed me around the town, supermarkets, parks, and other places I could go during my stay.
My routine consisted of taking care of the child from about 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., this included having her eat breakfast, spending the morning together, having lunch, and taking her to nap which could last up to 3 hours - in which I was free to use my time at home, and then do afternoon activities until the mother returned home. In particular, the family's main request was that I speak Italian with the child given the mother's background. In addition, the family gave me the chance to take a French course, the official language of Wallonia.
The first few days were definitely challenging, I was alone in a new place and had no experience with such young children, I didn't know how to organize age-appropriate activities, and the days were tiring. After the first week passed and after receiving a lot of suggestions from the parents, I began to feel more and more comfortable and the days started to flow more smoothly, learning from any mistakes I made being my first experience.
The family was very helpful with my every need and included me in different activities, for example, twice a week or so I went to a climbing gym with my host father and the little girl, an experience I probably would never have done on my own but I really enjoyed it and it allowed me to bond more with the father.
In addition, I had all the weekends free and, one thing I really appreciated was that the family got me an unlimited pass for the train, which is very efficient in Belgium; the station was a few minutes away from home and allowed me to visit all the major Belgian cities in comfort by train: Ghent, Bruges, Dinant and more.
The experience as an Au Pair was wonderful and I plan to repeat it! What made it so special was definitely all the people I met - from the Host Family to the friends I met. It allowed me to travel and discover a country I knew little about that surprised me. I highly recommend everyone to have this kind of experience and to find a willing Host Family like the one I met, don't be afraid to put yourself out there!
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