How To Prepare For Your Au Pair Year
About to go abroad for a year and mildly freaking out?
Relax, pal. Check out these steps so you can feel a little better prepared.
1) Save up as much as you can.
For a few months before I came here, I cut down on going out a lot. My friends thought I was super lame but I figured instead of wasting $40 at the same bar each night in my hometown, I’d much rather save up so I could afford to take more trips and go out when I’m abroad. The more you save, the better it will make your experience.
You always want to have enough money to buy an emergency return ticket home, as well as a week’s worth of accommodation and food in case there’s a disaster and you have to leave your host family immediately. However, I would certainly recommend saving more than that. What I do is use my au pair salary for spending money (coffee dates, shopping etc.) and my savings for weekend excursions and travel. For Vienna I had 5,000 USD saved before my trip but again, it totally depends on the city, the person, and their spending habits.
2) Get your visa sorted.
I can not stress enough how this is literally the most important thing you can do. Austria screwed me over and took FOREVER to give me my visa so I actually had to return home in the middle of my time there for a couple months. It was the most annoying and heart-breaking thing ever. Get this sorted out as soon as possible and it will make your life much less stressful.
3) Try to get everything you discussed with your host family IN WRITING.
Your host family may agree to things during the interview– paying for your trips home, your transport, your language courses, etc. but when it comes time for it, they may conveniently forget. It’s a lot less awkward to bring up later if you already have it in writing. If these things aren’t included in the initial contract (which often they’re not because many au pair contracts are very basic), then I suggest adding all the additional provisions you agree upon in the beginning. You’re an employee and they are an employer. If they’re not okay with a proper contract, then they’re weird and you probably don’t want them.
4) Have as much information as possible about the host family.
Once you know a bit about the family, it’s best to google-search their name and job and make sure they’re real people so you know you’re not being catfish-ed. Also make sure to write down the number and address on both a piece of paper as well as your phone, and give a copy to your parents and any other emergency contact.
5) Buy a welcome gift.
You want to make a good first impression. If you’re not sure what to get them, check out this list.
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