I recently wrote an article for the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry on the five biggest problems an au pair faces upon arrival in France. While the article focuses on British au pairs, the principles apply to au pairs of all nationalities and is so definitely worth reading.
In the article, I made sure to suggest ways that each host family can help their au pair to overcome these difficulties. Advice for host families is not often included on au pair blogs, and I think it is extremely important, so please do not hesitate to share it with host families across France!
If anyone has any questions regarding the article or my experiences, feel free to comment here or on the article itself. We would love to hear from you!
I have inserted an excerpt of the article below, or you can read the full article here
Thanks for reading,
Culture shock: The 5 biggest problems for the new British au pair in France
- Fitting in – A question of customs
Although at a glance the French and English cultures seem quite similar, the finer details can de-rail a new au pair. Everything looks more or less the same, yet they’re not sure how to go about daily life. This can be due to a mixture of typical French customs and family routines. For me, typical daily questions included: how do I greet people, a handshake or la bise? How many bises? Does my host family always eat this late?
What is this new food being served? Why are they so worried about me leaving the house with no scarf?
Another important point is family dynamics; in my two host families, the mother was in charge of the household, the cooking, the au pair and the children’s schedules – something I was not used to.
After my first week as an au pair, I was surprised at how overwhelmed I was by this culture shock.
Solutions – The best thing a host family can do is explain patiently about their French customs and take a strong interest in the British way of life. This will create a cultural exchange rather than a one-sided learning experience….See the full article here!