Helen, 22, from London, worked as au pair in Málaga (Spain)
Au pairing is something I've always wanted to do, I got to know my perfect family by chatting to them on skype
It was my first experience as an Au-Pair. Although I had thought of the idea in the past it was never something I could fit in my life with my previous job and studying...however last April my family decided to move house, so I had to leave my job and decided to apply. The second person I had a skype interview with seemed perfect, so between April and June we planned my summer au pair stay.
I was made to feel like a real part of the family
The experience was amazing for me in so many ways, I had a chance to escape all the drama of moving house and leaving my previous job, and to instead work in sunny Málaga for the summer. Málaga is very special to me. I have many friends there since doing Erasmus in 2010. The family, a young couple (late thirties), and their two adorable children Mia, 6 and Edu, 2, made my stay so enjoyable. I was made to feel a part of the family from day one, getting involved with family events such as Mia's dance show, a family wedding just a few days after arriving, short weekend holidays and family visits/birthdays.
I really enjoyed spending quality time with the children
I felt like the family were my own and not like I had barely known them a few months. As it was summer I spent the days with the children and occasionally the mum when she wasn't at work. This for me is better than just after school hours as I got to spend quality time with the children. We often went down to the pool and played with neighbours children (the neighbours also grew very fond of me and looked after me as friends/family would do). We spent many days at the pool, beach, taking walks, visiting the centre, visting the Nan's's house or simply just in the house making up fun activities..
The children enjoyed my company too
The children engaged so well with me and thought of me as a big sister which made me feel just great! Mia and I often thought up dance games (a common interest we shared), played Just dance on the WII (with Edu too), and played games to practice English, which we would do daily. In the end both Mia and Edu were conversing with me in English which was a great achievement and was great to know I'd helped them to do this. I also got to spend my birthday in Málaga which was during the Feria, an annual festival in Málaga, which I had the opportunity to see, something I had wanted to do since 2010!!
I not only learnt more about the Spanish language, the family showed me the Spanish culture as well
Although I knew Spanish before going I think I learnt so much more about the language, and also more about the culture..seeing it from a different perspective by spending the time with a family and not students like before. The family introduced me to new cuisine: Spanish and also Filipino, where some of the family were from.
Leaving was hard - but I will forever have friends in Malaga
I am still in contact with the family, neighbours and people I met during the summer. It was an unforgettable experience in so many ways and one I want to relive soon..there were many tears when I left, I felt like a part of the furniture there. I was a part of the family and felt as if I belonged and really didn't want to leave any of them!
Au pair Helen: I found a second family in Spain
Helen, au pair from Scotland, wanted to improve her Spanish. She found a host family with seven children in Spain. Her conclusion after ten months in Cuenca: “I’ve improved my Spanish, seen Spain, made friends and most importantly, I found a second family that I know I will always be in contact with!”
I have been staying with Marta and her family for nine months and am now coming to the end of my last month with them before I move to a family in Paris.
I wanted to improve my level of Spanish quickly
Originally I came to Cuenca for the summer and planned on staying three months. In the end I have been here nearly a year! This is a true testament to the great experience I have had with my host family and in Spain in general. I came out because I study languages and wanted to improve my level of Spanish quickly and thought aupairing would be a fun experience and it has been. I didn’t realise when I started out though that I would end up gaining another family and that in the end I would love them all so much!
I chose a family with seven children
My host familiy has seven childrenI chose Marta’s family because they stood out to me as being a bit different. There are seven children in quite a close age range (3-10) and I thought it would be a great experience to live with so many kids! It never really scared me off that there were so many children, especially after speaking beforehand with Marta and the kids on skype.
I liked the idea of coming to a small city
I also liked the idea of coming to a small city where I would have enough to do but not feel lost like in a larger city. I’m glad I came here because Cuenca is in a brilliant location for travel and I have managed to fit in travel to lots of different parts of Spain (Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Granada, Toledo and Salamanca). The Spanish is also very pure in Cuenca and generally, everyone from the extended family, teachers and kid’s friends could not be friendlier.
There has always been somebody to laugh with
When I first came it was a bit of a culture shock! Spanish people are a bit louder than British people anyway but in a house with seven kids I think this is even more pronounced. This is something that I love, there has always been someone to play with, laugh with, or entertain and I’ve never felt lonely. The kids had had aupairs before me and welcomed me with open arms, especially after they saw the sweets I’d brought with me from Scotland!
My main tasks: looking after the kids whilst mum works
My main tasks as an au pair have been to look after the kids whilst the mum works with the help of the grandparents. This means helping them get organised for school, and eating lunch with them and helping with homework and activities until Marta gets home. The mornings have always been free and the weekends too, so I have time to go to Spanish class and the gym or to meet friends or explore the city.
Summer holiday in Alicante
At the weekends, I’ve travelled or gone out with friends or a lot of time spent days with the family, especially during the summer holidays at the pool! In the summer we went to their holiday flat in Alicante and it was amazing to spend time relaxing at the beach and having fun with the kids.
The kids are so loveable
Me and three of the kidsI don’t think I could have come to a better family and I wouldn’t change my ‘Spanish family’ for the world. In ten months I have seen the kids grow and change and I love them all like my own family. All kids have their bad days and there’s definitely not a day that doesn’t pass without squabbles and a little chaos but the kids are funny, sweet, loving and so loveable. I’m completely comfortable looking after all of them and although seven sounds like a lot, with a routine and discipline and a brilliant mum and grandparents around, it’s a great house to live in. There’s always something going on, whether it’s a family gathering, a birthday or a trip somewhere and I’ve never been bored.
My host mum included me from everything
Looking after the kids has been a learning experience. Before I came I didn’t have that much experience with kids and I was worried it wouldn’t come naturally but I honestly think that with these kids you’d have to have a heart of stone to not love them all! Marta and the grandmother are great. Marta has included me from everything from the start and made it clear that in their home, the au pair is not there as an employee but as an extra member of the family who is there to lend a hand.
She introduced me to everything I need to know
She’s helped me so much with Spanish that I have improved loads and she’s introduced me to everything I need to know about life in Spain. The grandmother speaks no English whatsoever and this has definitely been beneficial for my Spanish! Nati is a typical Spanish grandmother and dotes on her family and is so welcoming and loving to everyone.
I am sad: my time in Cuenca is coming to an end
Houses in white and yellowI really do feel like a member of the family now and I am sad my time in Cuenca with them is coming to an end. I’m heading to France in a few weeks to aupair again whilst I study and hope I’m going to have an experience and a family even half as amazing as my Spanish one. I’ve improved my Spanish, seen Spain, made friends and most importantly, found a second family that I know I will always be in contact with!
Sarah über ihre Zeit als Au-pair...
Warum hast du dich für einen Au-pair-Aufenthalt entschieden?
Während des Studiums war ich bereits für ein Auslandssemester in Istanbul, was auch eine super Erfahrung war. Man ist aber eher mit anderen Studenten in Kontakt und nicht so nah dran an der neuen Kultur. Deshalb wollte ich unbedingt noch einmal ins Ausland und so richtig in eine andere Kultur eintauchen. Da man als Au-pair in einer Gastfamilie lebt, den Alltag, die Traditionen und vielen kleinen Details hautnah miterlebt, ich außerdem Kinder total gerne mag und schon seit vielen Jahren nebenbei als Babysitter jobbe, war Au-pair einfach naheliegend.
Wann warst du als Au-pair im Ausland und wohin bist du gereist?
Ich war von Juni bis September 2016 in Barcelona. Der Zeitpunkt war für beide Seiten perfekt: Meine Gastfamilie brauchte ein Sommer Au-pair, um die langen Sommerferien in Spanien zu überbrücken. Und ich konnte die Semesterferien ideal nutzen und den Sommer in Spanien genießen.
Rückblickend betrachtet: Was hat dir dein Au-pair-Aufenthalt gebracht?
Durch die Zeit als Au-pair habe ich gelernt, mich schnell in völlig neuen Situationen zurechtzufinden. Ich bin geduldiger geworden, traue mir mehr zu und kann mich besser durchsetzen ─ was sicherlich hilfreich im Job sein wird.
Durch die Zeit als Au-pair habe ich außerdem das nötige Selbstbewusstsein bekommen, mich für den beruflichen Weg zu entscheiden, der mich wirklich interessiert: Online-Marketing. Vor meiner Zeit als Au-pair in Spanie hatte ich den einfachen, sicheren Weg in den Bereich HR (Human Ressources) gewählt, weil ich schon während des Studiums in diesem Bereich gearbeitet habe.
Nach deiner Erfahrung als Au-pair, würdest du heute etwas anders machen?
Nein. Die Zeit als Au-pair hat mir den nötigen Abstand verschafft, um zu sehen, in welche berufliche Richtung es gehen soll – und das genau zum richtigen Zeitpunkt, nämlich noch während des Studiums. So konnte ich noch rechtzeitig die richtigen Weichen stellen. Deshalb kann ich die Erfahrung auch nur jedem ans Herz legen. Eine solche Auszeit eröffnet neue Perspektiven und erlaubt es einem, auch mal links und rechts zu schauen – so entdeckt man vielleicht sogar neue Wege.