Last winter/spring, I made the decision to not sign my contract for the following year. I have LOVED everything about my teaching job for the past three years, but it was time to move on to my next life adventures and go traveling! While I knew I would be doing SOMETHING different this year, I took a longggg time to decide what that “something” would be. I had so many different ideas and options. I considered flipping houses, teaching abroad, finding an online job and just traveling, getting a van and driving around the country…you see how undecided I was haha. After letting months go by, and letting everyone around me get super stressed about the fact that I had no idea what I was doing come August, I finally made my decision.
I logged onto aupairworld.com and created a free account. (Because I had such a good experience using the site, I wanted to share some details about it in case others were wondering about the process.) Creating an account is super easy. I would definitely recommend adding a lot of pictures, because that helps people get to know you better and see what your interests are. I tried to add a picture that matched up with each interest I listed in my profile. Many people commented on my pictures when they reached out to me, so I think doing that was a good idea. You can narrow down your search results to find families in the area you would like to live. I started out by reaching out to some families on that first day of making my account, and that worked fine, but I was quickly inundated with tons of messages from families who had found my account, so either way works fine. The site itself is easy to use. I was a bit skeptical because the site doesn’t do much other than let you see families and let them see you, which really, is all you need. But some people thought it provided assistance in helping you get to your country or added security measures or something, but really there was none of that. While it might be alarming to some people to fly across the world and move in with a random family from the internet, I really had no concerns haha. After emailing back and forth with a few families, I ended up skyping with two of them. They were both great, but I made a choice based on which family felt like the best fit for me. Over the next few weeks, we emailed back and forth about logistics. I ended up deciding to only stay for 90 days so that I wouldn’t need to worry about getting a visa. Like I said, this was a slightly last minute decision and I really just wanted to make everything as simple/smooth as possible. Even so, my host family and I had to do some paperwork for me to get there. I needed to get travel insurance and my flight details, and my host family needed to get me an invitation letter from the local police department, an au pair contract (this would cover the finances part of the 90 day ‘visa’ requirements), and a letter showing that I would be taking Spanish classes during my time there. Technically, with a different family this may have been my responsibility to find Spanish classes, but in my case my host mom teaches lessons, so she enrolled me in her class and sent me the paperwork.
Soon, it was time to get on the plane! I had my new birkenstocks on, my new stainless steel water bottle in hand, and my new purse swung across my body. Hey, maybe not everybody feels best when they have the appropriate accessories, but I certainly do. Although I will say I packed much better this time around than I did for Australia a few years ago. I remember my dad saying how I had overpacked by sooo much back then, while I explained that I needed 4 pairs of different colored pairs of jeans because having them all would make my trip that much better. While I don’t necessarily disagree with myself, and I don’t regret bringing all those pants…I did WAY overpack back then haha. This time I think I did an amazing job! And I also knew that I could buy anything I needed here in Spain, so I wasn’t worried about forgetting anything. My flights and layover were all perfectly uneventful (although very long), and the highlight of my trip was the dinner and then breakfast we got on my international flight. Although I did almost sleep through both of them because my dramamine pills really do their job well. Upon deplaning in Spain, I was nervous to get to immigration because I worried that I would be missing something I needed. When I did get there though, I walked up to the counter with my passport and all my paperwork, the agent opened my passport and then handed it back to me and sent me on my way. He literally did not say one word to me and did not look at my paperwork or anything haha! After I had been worrying that something wouldn’t check out with all the paperwork we had spent time working on, no one even looked at it. Obviously you should still have it all just in case, but definitely don’t worry too much haha.
Before I left, people had been asking if I confirmed that someone was picking me up at the airport, but I was like eh it’ll be fine. And it was! Haha. I could have gotten a taxi/public transportation if needed, but as soon as I walked out of the arrivals gate, my host dad ran up to me, kissed me on both cheeks, and brought me right out to the car. It was just him and I for the first few days since they were just moving to the area, and it was a great low-key way to sleep off my jet lag and get used to the area.
Since then, everyday life here has just been flying by! I am loving every second.
Overall, my experience using aupairworld was perfect. I honestly could not have chosen a better family and I am so thankful every day that I just decided to sign up and get going to be an au pair. Obviously, trust your instincts and be smart about the process, but I highly recommend being an au pair as a way to see a new country. In most situations, you’re provided with food, accommodation, and pocket money. In return, you provide childcare and speak with the child/children to help them learn English. In my experience, you really just become a part of the family. I help out around the house the same way I would with my own family, and I enjoy cooking dinner for my host family, too. You have the chance to learn the native language of the country you are in, while also being immersed in the culture and daily life of living in that country. I can’t say enough good things about being an au pair, and about the amazing experience it has given me to live in another country!