au pair

My time as a French Au Pair in Germany

by Joanne on Jun 25, 2020
Experience report: My Au Pair year in Germany
My name is Joanne, I am 21 years old and I come from France, to be specific from the Alsace. Before I came to Germany, I studied German at university for three years because I wanted to become a teacher. After all these years I thought that this was not for me after all, but I didn't know what else to do, as I wanted to become a German teacher since I was 11 years old. I still want to do any job where I can speak German. My history teacher at the university emphasized all the time that it would be completely stupid to study German without having lived in Germany once and to experience the culture here. That's why I talked to a friend who was an Au Pair in Brazil and told me about her time there. Then I started looking for a family. 
 
So this year was originally meant to be about thinking about what I would like to become later and to speak German a bit more fluently. I have never lived in Germany before, but I have been there on holiday several times. I didn't need any visas to come here because Germany is a neighbouring country. My fears were that I might not get along with the family or that the children might not listen to me.
 
I came to Weil-der-Stadt on September 1, 2019 and will stay here for one year. I looked about two months for the perfect family. I was looking for a complete family, which means no single parents. No offense or anything, but I just wanted to feel comfortable.
 
I have also written to several families and several have written to me as well. I wanted to start somewhere near Berlin, because it is my dream city. Unfortunately I didn't find a satisfying family there and stayed much closer to the border, not because of the proximity to my actual home, but simply because of the sympathy of the people. 
 
The beginning was a bit bumpy, the children didn't know the situation yet, as I was their first Au Pair girl and therefore didn't understand the concept. They thought, above all, that their parents would adopt me and that I would then take their place. It lasted about two months, but then it went better and now they even want me to stay longer or not to go back to Alsace at all. On the whole I have a good relationship with the Host Family, I also get along well with both parents, they are very nice to me and are a good help to find my way around and get used to the place.
 
My typical day as an Au Pair is to get up in the morning during the week, wake up the children at certain times, depending on when school or kindergarten starts, prepare their lunch boxes and pack their school bags. The boy (5 years old) is in the kindergarten, which is in the street next door, and had to be brought there between half past seven and nine o'clock. The girl (8 years old) walks to school alone with her peer group and leaves the house at ten past seven. When everyone is out of the house then, it depends on what needs to be done: hanging up the laundry, putting the dishwasher in and out, ironing, tidying up, cleaning and so on. At half past eleven I always started off for school and got there at quarter to twelve because I took a mini-job there as a lunch and homework supervisor until quarter to two. In the course of the afternoon they both come home. I then do homework with the eldest and try to keep her busy as much as I can. This was all before all the stress with the coronavirus, of course. 
 
As far as I was concerned, there were no problems with language and communication, as I speak German relatively well and if I ever had a problem finding a word, it was no problem, as the family is bilingual (German/French). Accordingly, I did not need a language course. But one year is also a long time. I thought it would work, but I was still very homesick because I had met my boyfriend just before I left. Luckily the Host Family let me go home for a weekend once a month and my boyfriend was allowed to visit me here as well. 
 
I didn't really try to make friends here, although we did go to a French meet-up from time to time and I met a girl I went out with several times, but it wasn't my main occupation to make contacts. 
 
It was also not always easy because the eating habits in the German family were very different from my home and I still think that food is very important when you are abroad. From time to time I tried to cook like at my place, but unfortunately there are many things you won't find here. Unfortunately it was not the best year to go abroad with this pandemic, many things were closed, many parties were cancelled, so we didn't go anywhere very often, mostly to playgrounds in the area. We also went hiking at the Titisee, we flew kites, and made several shorter trips for running.
 
To all future Au Pairs: It is really a nice experience to travel to another country and really live there for a longer time and it is also an experience for life that will stay in your memory forever. I don't know if it would have been of any use to me if someone had given me an advise before, because I always have to form my own opinion anyway, no matter what I'm told. 
 
A really beautiful moment was right at the beginning of the stay, I was hardly a week there when I learned that my godfather had died, and the mother really sat with me for hours and talked to me and tried to calm me down and help me although we hardly knew each other. It felt really good. 
 
I'm still working as an Au Pair and so I can't talk about life after that yet, but I can imagine that in a job there are no disadvantages in improving your language skills, expanding your culture and gaining experience. 
 
Everybody deals with their children differently, you learn to adapt to people and find compromises. Unfortunately, I don't think I would do it again, because it is really exhausting to be far away from the familiar environment and because I want to build up my life with my partner now. If I wasn't in a relationship I might try it again, but then to other countries further away, but then also for a shorter time. When I came to Germany, I had in mind that maybe one day I would like to move here, but now, after ten months here, I know that I would miss the Alsace far too much.
 
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