Why being and Au-Pair was the worst and best experience I ever had? I’ll try to answer that in this entry. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to answer it, but even though I had mostly bad experiences with my host family I still say that it was the best thing I could’ve done. Why? Easy answer: I learned so much about myself in three months that’s crazy. It changed me in a positive way. I would never regret an experience like that and I suggest to everyone: DO IT.
You might not be happy all the time, you might not have this wonderful host family, but you gain so much more that it would not matter. I don’t regret going and I don’t regret deciding on leaving earlier than planned. That’s also one thing I learned. You don’t need to do things you don’t want to do. You are the one who is in charge of your well-being. If you’re not taking care of yourself, who will? No one. Believe me. I never was a person who said no to things because I didn’t want to hurt people feelings or I thought that I needed to do that. It took me four weeks to see and learn that I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to do something which doesn’t let me feel good.
But let’s start with why I even went abroad. I study English and History to become a teacher and we need to stay abroad for at least three months. Of course in an English-speaking country. Pretty clear that there are only England, Ireland, Australia, NZ, US or Canada as an option. There are plenty options what you can do. Study, work, au-apair and and and. I never had the money to study abroad and I didn’t have the money for going to Australia. At some point Marlena and I wanted to go to Australia together… but yeah Janna wasn’t able to get the money. My decision was then going to England. I love the accent and I liked it there a lot. I found a hostfamily in June and went to Oxford to meet them. After that they decided that they don’t want to have an Au-Pair. The mom wasn’t ready to leave her girls to someone else.
I felt really bad and was super sad about that, because I liked the family so much. But that’s how life is. Not fair. I rushed my search for a new family and also looked in Ireland for families. My biggest mistake? I choose the first family who said they wanted me. I didn’t think it through, I didn’t ask many questions, I said yes. That was clearly a mistake. But I was scared I wouldn’t find something. Yup.
I guess what was my mistake was that first of all it was family of four, the woman had two nearly grown up children from a previous marriage and two younger with her second husband. That was a huge point for differences within the family. The discussion „My children, your children“ – you probably know that. The second point was that (it sounds dumb I know) she wasn’t from Ireland. Maybe that was difficult too.
What was hardest for me were the conditions I had there. I didn’t have my own key, I wasn’t allowed to go to the au-pair meetings in the next city during the week, I always needed to say when I come back, having showers was only possible in the mornings when no one was at home, and the parents never stood behind my decisions. Plus, I only got 80€ per week. Which is the least money allowed to pay your au-pair in Ireland. And Ireland is not a cheap country.
The children I minded were not pretty happy about having an au-pair. I don’t blame them. All they wanted was their mom to be around and take care of them, but she wanted to work and even when she had a day off she didn’t do anything with her children. Which is kind of sad, I think. There were plenty of problems and I never really could do what I wanted. I wanted to be creative with them and do some fun things, but playing with wood or kitchen utensils or even building a tent in the living room was not allowed. I never really understood that. But whatever. I functioned the way they wanted me to. They needed someone to mind their children and nothing more. I was never part of the family. And I said that I want to be a part of the family. This was really important to me. So most of the times I really felt alone.
That’s why I went every weekend somewhere. I spent all the money I had, but I just wanted to go away from the place I hated so much. I met some really wonderful au-pairs. They became my second family in Ireland. We explored the country together. And that is the best part about being an au-pair. You are free at the weekends. You can do whatever you want. You are in a foreign country. You travel so much, you explore so much and you do so many wonderful things with people who grow to your family there. And you experience the culture in such a different way. Plus you learn English. Haha!
So what I learned? A lot. I learned what I miss about Germany (bread, my family, my friends) and why I probably could never really live in a different country, but would always travel. I learned how German I am. I mean, I’m really most of the prejudices existing about Germans. I’m punctual, structured, efficient, trust-worthy… yep all those things and I hated Irish people for being the most unpuctual people I ever met. But I also learned that sometimes it’s better to take the things how they are and not be annoyed about everything. I learned a lot about how I would raise my children (if I ever have children. I highly doubt that). It approved my decision in being a secondary teacher because I cleary cannot work with younger children. I learned to listen to myself, to trust myself and my stomach, to do what is good for ME and not for others, I’m way more confident about what I’m doing, I believe in myself, I take things more serious. I grew up, finally. (I’m still a dreamer and a child, but older in some ways). I’m way more tolerant, I accept people how they are and don’t try to change them, I respect other decisions even when I don’t understand them. There are only things I gained through it – even if it was one of the hardest times in my life so far. It also was one of the best times so far and sometimes I miss it.