Living Abroad Au Pair Style: Top 10 Pros

The moment that I made a radical mindset change and decided to destroy my debt in order to chase after my dreams, EVERYTHING changed.

All of my mental limits started to vanish and my mind opened up to a whole new future of possibilities and experiences.

It had always been a dream of mine to explore the world, although growing up I just assumed that traveling abroad was only for the wealthy or people that has some sort of luck or advantage in the society.

I had no idea that I could actually make decisions and create my life to where I could LIVE abroad, without going into high amounts of debt in order to do so. When I was half way in my debt free journey, reality hit me hard and I thought,

WOW, I am capable of so much more than I had ever imagined! If other people can live and travel abroad, why can’t I do the same?
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With this new mindset, I decided to put all of my time and attention into leaving the USA and having a new adventure somewhere else in the world for a period of time. I had no idea how long I wanted to go, but I just knew that I wanted to take a big risk and do something that I had never seen anyone around me do while I was young.

In my search for how I was actually going to get a visa and live abroad, I randomly found in the Google search engine “Being an Au pair in Spain.” I had absolutely know idea what that term actually meant, so I decided to do my own investigation on the topic.

➙ An Au pair is a foreign person, (female or male) that typically lives in the home with a host family, although many families have a separate living space for that individual.

The Au pair can have many roles, depending on what the family requires. An Au pair is like a babysitter that generally speaks a foreign language and speaks and teaches it to the children. He or she generally earns a small allowance each month, but is not required to pay for accommodation or food.

When I first discovered this option, I was blown away by how many options were available online from families all throughout the world, especially in Europe. Knowing that I work very well with kids, I knew in the minute I discovered how easy it would be to actually find a family, that this would the job that would allow me to get a visa and live out my dream to live in Europe.

All in all, I was an Au pair for more than two years, starting as a live in and then shortly after working with a new family, but living in my own apartment (which was included in my working conditions).

I wrote this article for anyone that is thinking about exploring the option of being an Au pair in order to tell you the positives of the experiences (I will share the not-so-pleasant in another article).

So are you thinking you might want to be an Au pair?

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1. It’s a unique and once in a lifetime experience.

…..This is the BEST option if you are looking for a way to completely immerse yourself into a new culture. Living in the home with a host family gives you an up close and personal experience in to the lives of their culture, tradition, habits and lifestyle, an experience that you would never have living on your own.

I was able to share this experience with other Au pairs from America that I met in the neighborhood in which I was working. Together we were able to bring together our families and share a bit of our American culture and traditions and show them how we celebrate the 4th of July, something that our families had never celebrated before.

Being an Au pair can be a great way in which you can not only learn a new culture, but also share a part of yours to others.
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4th of july party with au pairs

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2. You can form a life long friendship & adopt a second family.

If you have a kind and open host family, it is only natural to form a friendship and bond together, especially if you are living under one roof together.

Now, do not get me wrong….

There WILL be challenges, just like there is living in a home with anyone. There is no perfect situation, so if you decide to go this route, do not expect everything to be perfect, especially if you are brining to opposite cultures into one small household.

Being flexible and open as an Au pair is absolutely mandatory. Maybe you grew up doing something a certain way and start working for a family that does the complete opposite. If you are fixated on “your way” and are not open to experiencing something new, you may run into some hardships.

If you go into the situation with an eagerness to learn, adapt and immerse yourself fully into a new culture, the majority of times things will go down a smooth path. This will open the door to new life long friendships with your host family, their family and contacts.

Merry xmas YoliAndri

My Spanish Brother and Sister on my first Christmas abroad

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3. Opportunity to try all kinds of new food that you have never had before!

I went into my experience in Spain with absolutely no rules and limitations.

I was a vegan for the 2 years before I moved to Spain, but strangely enough one of my conditions of working with my live in family was that I ate everything. I connected very well with the family, so I decided to accept the conditions and literally try anything and everything, which was a huge stretch for me.

In my first year of living abroad I tried everything that my family prepared: typical dishes like paella, Spanish tortilla, croquettes, gazpacho, Salmorejo, empanadas and so many other things!

It also gave me the opportunity to explore world of Spanish tapas and try things that I had never even thought about trying! When you go abroad and have a willingness to try new food, even if it is something totally different than what you would normally eat, you may just be surprised how much you actually like something totally off the wall.

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trying new food
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4. Opportunity to learn how to make homemade typical dishes.

Eating in a restaurant and trying new foods is one experience, but getting your hands dirty and learning how to cook from your host family is a whole new experience. I got the chance to learn how to make some delicious dishes and go from a basic cook, to a more cultured and expert one.

One of the best things about learning how to cook is the fact that when you go home, you will be able to take all of that knowledge and teach your family and friends about the gastronomy of the country in which you live in and even allow them to try brand new dishes, without even leaving their home.

It is a win-win for everyone!
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5. The opportunity to explore different regions of the country of your choice….

I am SO thankful that I chose Spain as the country to live and work in. There are so many amazing places to visit, with unique opportunities that you can not find in any other part of the word.

I was bale to travel with my first family on vacation to the south of the country and explore where the mother grew up and spent the majority of her live. With my second family, I live with them in my apartment in Zaragoza during the school year, but in the summer I traveled to their beach house in order to do the same job, but in an apartment with direct views of the beach – it was SO beautiful.

On my vacation days and weekends I traveled extensively across Spain, visiting as many regions as possible and attending all the top famous music and cultural festivals that they had, such as :

  1. Tomatina – This is the world’s largest tomato fight. The town basically shuts down and big dump trucks full of tomatoes plow through the city, dumping tomatoes through out the street and everyone breaks out into a crazy tomato fight.
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  2. Running of the Bulls- a week long party, which involves crazy people running in front of bulls that are released in the street. While that might not sound appealing, the atmosphere is SO much fun and something you should not miss if you are living in Spain. It is a wild non stop party that you will never forget!
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  3. Las Fallas-
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  4. Feria de Abril
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  5. Arenal Sound Music Festival

2 Weeks in the south of Spain with the family

6. Opportunity to easily travel to other countries close
(especially if working in Europe)….

If you work as an Au pair in Europe, you will be able to travel easily within the European Union at a very low price! Believe it or not, you can actually find 2 hour flights (round trip) for less than $40!

I was able to explore with my Au pair friends many nearby countries that I had always dreamed of visiting, such as Portugal, Germany, England, Italy and Belgium. These are experiences that enriched my life in so many ways and ones in which I will never forget!
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Trip with Au pairs to Portugal (less than $50 Round trip flight)

Trip with Au pairs to Portugal (less than $50 Round trip flight)

7. Opportunity to learn a foreign language

One of the main reasons that I chose to move to Spain was because I would get the opportunity to learn a foreign language, something that I had always desired to do. Spanish is one of the main languages spoken in the world and learning it well would open up the doors to a world of new opportunities.

If you choose to live in Spain as an Au pair and work in a place that is not Madrid or Barcelona, you will find that most people do not speak English at all, which will only help you in your journey to learning Spanish.

It is very easy to find eager Spanish people that will do an exchange with you, where you teach them English and they teach you Spanish. It is a fun way to make new friends, share your culture together, while learning a skill at the same time.

Learning Spanish fluently is one of the best decisions that I have ever made for my life. It has given me lots of opportunities, more pay in my work and has opened up a whole new world of friendships and relationships. In fact, I fell in love with a Spanish man that does not know any English, something that would’ve never happened if I didn’t make the decision to learn the language and put forth an unbelievable amount of time and hard work into the process.

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Party in the park with different Au pairs and foreigners from all over the world

8. Opportunity to expand your work experience (a part from being an Au pair)
and get a second job.

I must admit, even though I did not have to pay for food and accommodation, it was not always the easiest thing living on the small amount that you get paid as an Au pair (my pay was only $400/mo).

If you have a flexible family and they respect the hours in which you are supposed to work and do not give you a hard time for working in your free time (some families are very strict about their time frames), then you can take advantage of your free time in order to get a second job teaching private English classes.

I ended up different clients in a Facebook group and making between up to €20 euros/hour, which allowed me to save up quite a bit in my free time.

Many Au pairs are afraid to talk with their family about the time they need off, but it is absolutely necessary that you establish norms as an Au pair so that you can have the freedom to have another job if you need, while keeping your obligations with your host family.

I got to meet and teach so many neat individuals, ranging from young kids to older adults. Most of them were just basic conversation classes, where I would have to sit at a coffee shop and listen to them speak about their life and just correct and help them with any doubt or error that they have.
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One of the kids from my part time weekend job teaching English


9. Opportunity to attend a language school with other foreigners
at a VERY low price!

I absolutely loved the opportunity to tend a local language school with other foreigners. I got to meet other young people that were also working as Au pairs or teaching English from all over the world.

Courses were offered at my school 2 times a year (February and September) and you can study for a whole semester for less than 130 euros (10 hours a week).

I met so many new friends this way and it’s a good environment to get support and help in the learning process. After class, we always went out into the city together to explore on weekends.

 

My spanish class having a party and trying new dishes from different countries


10. Learn from direct experience the BEST form of birth control!..

There is no better form of birth control than a live in situation in a foreign country with a family + kids. You get to see from first hand experience what it is really like to raise children and all the emotional and physical energy that goes into it all.

Honestly, when I moved to Spain I was very clear about wanting kids, but after living in the home with them for a period of time, I changed my whole outlook on it.

It opened my eyes like never before to parenthood and the struggles (and joys) of having a family. I was able to see the constant effort and sacrifice both of the parents had to make on a daily basis and the importance of having a loving and supportive partner to raise a child.

It also taught me that no family or situation is perfect. Every family, whether they admit it or not, have their own share of obstacles and having a strong, healthy family is work….A LOT of work!

This type of realization can be excellent for a young person that thinks they want kids at a young age, but has no idea the work that actually goes into the whole process. Work as an Au pair for just a few months and your eyes will be opened FOREVER!

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Don´t forget to also check out: 

MY EXPERIENCE GETTING A STUDENT VISA TO LIVE IN SPAIN

WAYS TO SAVE ON ACCOMMODATION WHILE TRAVELING

 

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comLiving Abroad Au Pair Style: Top 10 Pros