There isn’t a better way to travel around the world with a purpose than by volunteering! In this series on alternative tourism, we are covering popular international volunteer programs for young adults to participate in. If you feel that you’re ready to share knowledge with others, learn new skills, and boost your life experience, read on! In this article we will talk about AuPair.com, a program that provides young people and families around the world with cultural exchange in exchange for help in childcare.
AuPair.com is a world-wide matching agency that connects host families with volunteers for cultural exchange and volunteer service. Volunteers travel to a different country and immerse themselves in a new culture while living with a family for a year. The responsibilities include looking after the kids, picking them up from school, cooking meals, and helping with everyday life. In exchange for volunteering, participants also receive a small stipend from their host family.
Criteria for participation
You can become an Au Pair if you:
- are 17 – 30 years old depending on criteria for a specific country
- have a good command of English or other language spoken in the host country
- enjoy working with kids
- are not married and don’t have kids of your own
- have at least a high school diploma
- are healthy without any chronic diseases
- have a clear criminal record
You need to be able to communicate on a daily basis with your Host Family. If the host country’s requirements don’t state otherwise, usually a good command of English or the host country’s official language is more than enough.
If you need a visa to participate in the Au Pair program, you might be required to provide a language certificate proving your knowledge of the target language. You are also allowed to improve your proficiency by attending a language course in the host country. In some countries, language courses are mandatory.
7 steps to become an Au Pair
AurPair.com is a platform that provides both volunteers and host families with an opportunity to be introduced to one another.
- Register on AuPair.com and create your profile
To stand out among the other participants, you need to create an interesting profile, adding some pictures and recommendations that prove your experience. Consider writing the Host Family a letter to share your expectations and motivation in becoming an Au Pair with your future Host Family.
- Search for a prospective Host Family
Once you are signed in as an Au Pair, you can start searching for Host Families in different countries. The platform gives you the opportunity to browse families that match your preferences and destinations. In addition to AuPair.com’s suggestions, you can add other families to your Favorites. This way you will have a selected list of users you are interested in. Each added family will receive a notification.
- Meet up during a video-interview
After shortlisting the most suitable families, it is important to talk to them to get to know each other better. During the interview both parties will share their expectations and talk about the important details of the cooperation. You will be able to see which family suits you best.
Make a list of important questions you would like to discuss with your prospective Host Family. Some of them might be:
- Have you hosted an Au Pair before?
- What do you expect from your Au Pair? What are the Au Pair responsibilities?
- What does your weekly routine look like?
- Do the kids go to kindergarten or school? Do they have further regular activities?
If you like a certain family during the talk and you both feel this could be a good match, organize another call and discuss more specific details about accommodation, boarding, pocket money, required documents, insurance, visa requirements if any, transportation and other important parts of the Au Pair experience.
- Sign the Au Pair contract and conclude other formalities
The Au Pair contract is a formal document stating all important details discussed between you and your future Host Family. It can help you avoid many possible misunderstandings and problems during the stay.
- Prepare for your trip
There are many important things you need to consider before going abroad: clarifying formalities with the host country’s embassy if you need a visa, gathering all the documents you need for registration in the host country, making sure your insurance coverage is sufficient, packing your suitcase, and booking tickets.
- Adapt to the new country
Once you have arrived it’s time to get to know your Host Family and the place where you will be living. Normally, it will take some time for the children to adapt to a new person, so don’t worry if they seem distant at the beginning.
In order to make your adaptation easier, discuss the following terms with the Host Family at the very beginning of your stay:
- Weekly schedule: What should be done and when?
- Rules in the household
- Use of Internet and telephone
- Language course: When can you attend the courses to improve your language knowledge?
- Financial questions, bank account
- Emergency issues: Are there neighbors, grandparents or other people you can contact in case of emergency?
- Enjoy your Au Pair experience
The Au Pair program gives you a unique opportunity to stay abroad for some time and gain new experiences. Explore the country and local culture, meet new people, and make sure you enjoy this experience to the max.
Photo: Shutterstock / edit: Martina Advaney
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