The au pair program is popular among young women and men who want to travel and experience a new culture. However, the program also comes with challenges.
One of the main challenges is cultural communication differences. For example, your host family may use low-context communication, whereas you prefer high-context communication.
In addition to learning a new language, au pairs can immerse themselves in a different culture and learn a lot about American society. This experience can boost a resume and help future career prospects. Au pairs will learn leadership, organization, adaptability, flexibility, and many more skills that can be used in their career and life.
Au pairs must understand and embrace the cultural communication differences they may encounter. For example, if an au pair comes from a country or family that values low-context communication – such as bluntness and directness – it can be challenging to adjust to their host families’ more high-context communication style. This is one of the reasons it is so vital for au pairs to be open and honest with their host families about their communication styles and expectations.
Some au pairs may find signing up for English as a Second Language classes at their local community college helpful. These classes will give them a more structured setting to practice their listening, speaking, and reading skills. They can use their education stipend to pay for these classes, which satisfies their au pair program educational requirement.
Aside from taking English classes, au pairs can also practice their skills daily by reading English-language articles and books. Reading can help au pairs become familiar with the pronunciation and meaning of new words and improve their vocabulary and comprehension. It is a good idea for au pairs to keep a dictionary close at hand and to write down the words they don’t know in a reading journal to help them remember them later.
Experiencing a New Culture
The Au Pair Program is a great way to experience a new culture. Host families provide au pairs with a unique opportunity to learn about the customs and traditions of their local community and the country as a whole. In addition, the American family can be a welcome break from the everyday routine of the au pair’s home country.
Au pairs must remember that they will be immersed in a very different culture, and it may take time to adjust to these differences. This is especially true when it comes to communication. Au pairs often find their host family’s communication style and expectations very different. This can be challenging at times, but it is vital to remember that you are not alone and that your Local Coordinator is always available to mediate problems.
Au pairs are encouraged to participate in community and cultural events. Many find that this helps them make friends and build a sense of community. They can also enjoy their hobbies by participating in sports teams or musical groups or attending lectures to stimulate intellectual interests.
By the end of their year, most au pairs feel they have gained a deeper appreciation for America and their cultural heritage. They may even be inspired to travel more once their program ends.
Living with a Host Family
An au pair meaning refers to a young person from a foreign country who temporarily lives with a host family in another country to assist with childcare and domestic responsibilities. The term “au pair” is of French origin and translates to “on par” or “equal to” in English, implying that the au pair becomes an extended family member, living with the host family on an equal footing and participating in their daily life.
Being an au pair is more than just childcare; it’s about living with a family and becoming a part of their daily life. Au pairs are only expected to run part of the household, but they do take care of the children and contribute to some basic housekeeping tasks.
Host families provide au pairs with a private bedroom, meals, two weeks of paid vacation, and up to $500 towards educational classes. They also provide au pairs with a set schedule, to be at most 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week of work.
For parents who have to commute or work from home, having a dependable au pair can help with work-life balance and allow them to focus on important projects or Zoom meetings. But, it’s also important to remember that the relationship is a two-way street and that the family must ensure their au pair will fit them well.
That’s why a criminal background check is required, just like any job working with kids. This helps us make sure au pairs have a clean record and can join a host family that will be safe and welcoming. The local Cultural Care office will contact the au pair and host family monthly to provide support and answer any questions they may have.
Getting to Know Yourself
The Au Pair Program is more than just childcare; it’s also an opportunity for young women and men to get to know themselves better. Being alone in a new country can be empowering and help them develop a more mature worldview. It can also teach them how to adapt to different habits, which will be valuable in their future careers.
Being an au pair can also introduce them to a new city and culture they would never have experienced if they stayed home. They will have the chance to try local cuisine and learn about the language, holidays, and traditions of their host family. This can make them more interested in travel and discovering what the world offers.
Some families may have more than one au pair living in their house, which can be a great way to share cultural differences and have fun together. However, it can be challenging if the au pairs do not get along. This can be a big reason why some choose not to become an au pair.
The best way to avoid this is to find a well-respected au pair agency that can match you with a host family and take care of all the details. This can save you a lot of stress and hassle.