Traveling to live in a new country where you don’t know anyone can seem daunting. However you meet your new friends, my advice is to hang out with everyone you can even if they aren’t normally your kind of people. Those you have less in common with will naturally drift away and you’ll be left with a great core group of friends. So…how to make friends as an au pair*:
1. Groups for au pairs :
There are endless groups on Facebook dedicated to au pairs! It’s easy to join a few, go to the events advertised on there and meet other au pairs. Don’t be scared to post on the groups yourself, asking if anyone wants to meet up for coffee or to explore!
Most groups for each city will stay the same each year and simply change their name.
Sometimes you will be contacted by strange people (…often guys) who look at the au pair groups as a way to meet nice foreign women. Be wary!
Some who au pairs leave their families and advertise the position on Facebook say that they are leaving the family for ‘personal reasons’, when they are really leaving because the kids are being little monsters and they feel bad about leaving without finding a replacement…
– Photo curiosity of Welly Gonçalves
2. Language exchanges:
Language exchange groups on Facebook can be a useful place to meet native speakers of various languages, often including locals.
Obviously there will always be certain people on these groups who are there for the wrong reasons, so be wary. Some of the better groups hold regular group meetings in cafes, which are obviously safer…or you could organise your own!
3. Erasmus events:
I recommend joining the Erasmus groups for your city on Facebook. For those who don’t know, Erasmus is the main European student exchange program. You can join the group, go along to events and meet people without being an Erasmus student. Seriously, nobody seems to care (especially in Paris!). Some clubs in big cities have certain nights for Erasmus students that are open to any international or local person!
Some Erasmus students are also au pairs (that may not sound true, but I’ve met them myself!), while others are at studying at a local university or doing an internship. Whatever they’re doing, it’s a nice way to make some international friends!
Useful links for Paris: Mix Club has an Erasmus night every Thursday, and there are loads more held around the city on other nights.
While I am not a big user of Meetup, I know people who love it. You can search for groups that hold events in your area and specify what interests you. Just because you join a group, it does not mean you are obligated to attend any events, but it does connect you with like-minded people.
There may be groups for au pairs, but you could also use this as an opportunity to interact with people who share your interests – be it certain types of film, music, food, gaming, yoga or sports….
Although not strictly a form of social media, I’m including blogs in here as they can be so interactive. Some have forums, while simply others tell you about what the writers have been up to, giving you ideas of how to meet people in the city. Googling blogs and trying to find a good one can be very tedious, which is why we made our Paris mega blog – to save you the time!
*It sounds obvious but whatever you do BE CAREFUL. Don’t go alone to meet just one person, always meet in public and make sure that someone (especially your host family) knows where you are. The internet is great, but people can be really strange! So if a situation seems bit bizarre, someone weird has messaged you out of the blue, or you’re not comfortable…stop contacting them!
By Olivia Brett (editor)