Getting to France was so exciting, I didn’t know what to expect but also didn’t want to over think it all before I was able to meet my family. To my surprise I was met at the airport by their oldest son S. aged 15 and one of their previous Au Pairs Monica (27). Both of them were very sweet and welcoming and even though they struggled to speak English they tried their best to make me feel welcomed.
On arrival at home I was given a tour of my apartment and was able to meet the family in person for the very first time. They were as lovely as I had expected since meeting them over Skype a few months earlier. After a very long 36 hours of travelling in between South Africa and my final destination, I was ready to catch up on some much needed rest in my new ‘home’.
My first day was not as hectic as I thought it would have been. Monica was able to show me around and explain some of the details of everything they will need me to do while staying with the family; she showed the ropes and explained little things that I would have never thought of asking. After a few days of short trips to the school to drop off and pick up the kids, I was sure that I had figured out the complicated parts of being an Au Pair. In between getting the hang of the family’s needs and requirements, I was able to explore the city as the kids are in school during the day. On the first weekend I was able to arrange a trip to the beach with the children to get them out of the house a bit and also do some exploring myself. Being an Au Pair is really rewarding, I was blessed with a really close and happy family. The little girl that I am primarily looking after, A. aged 6, is a bright and energetic little individual and although she has very good traits she has her bad days. Some are a little easier than others, but dealing with them comes with the territory. It’s nothing that I have not dealt with before; I have a lot of fun with her.
All in all, my first week of being an au pair has been a lot of fun. The biggest challenge for me personally would have to be the driving; I am not from France so I obviously don’t have an idea as to where things are, meaning getting lost is something that happens on a daily basis. The culture shock really sunk in today when I got lost on the way to my French classes and couldn’t find my way; no one spoke English and so of course no one was able to help me. In situations like that or any other, the best advice would be to not freak out. Take a deep breath and keep trying to find your way, if all else fails give your family a call. They are sure to help you out of a sticky situation. Something that helped me was walking around the block one afternoon while I was off. It helps you to take in the beauty of the area that you are staying in and also gets you familiar with your surroundings.
Don’t get too frustrated if things go a little awry. Rome was not built in a day; make the best out of a bad situation. There have been a few time that I got horribly lost and found the cutest streets or cafes, I now have a GPS filled with destinations to visit in a little more detail, if it wasn’t for a few wrong turns you would never discover something different to what you are used to. Also don’t be afraid to explore, take a bus, take a train, get in your car and have a look around. You are also allowed to have some good clean fun while you are on this journey.
N.B. Names of the children have been abbreviated to keep things anonymous. They aren’t really called S and A ;).