March 31, 2010

For Future Reference…

Just reminding myself to book a shuttle to LAX for June 14th.

Do not forgot. :)

March 28, 2010

Au Pair Contract

So, what exactly is it that I’ve signed up for? Hmm… my contract speaks pretty plainly to me.

When I arrive, it’s almost like I’m just becoming a temporary member of the family. It’s more of a cultural experience than a job. Yes, I will be working, of course, but it’s all about being there. I get free accommodation (the entire third floor of their house!), free food, etc. Health insurance of some sort. They will pay for me to take a language course (zer gut!) too. My pocket money totals to about 450 euros a month and includes expenses for transportation like the UBahn and SBahn. They have a bike for me too which I think is awesome because I love riding bikes. So now the background on this blog kind of makes more sense to you, doesn’t it? Ha.

As far as work is concerned, my contract states that I will work about 6 hours a day, 30 hours a week and will have basic daily duties such as childcare (duh), light housework, cooking, laundry, etc. All of which I have no problem doing. The childcare is the biggest component… playing with the girls, getting them to school and picking them up, taking them to activities and lessons, going to the park, etc. Cooking for the family may be interesting, I’m certainly not a super chef. But I hear that they like pasta so that makes me happy seeing as that’s about the only thing that I can make! For free time, I have one free day and about four free evenings per week and one weekend free every month. And as I understand it, I have four weeks of paid (maybe) vacation total. Which Erika (the Frau, as Helen calls her, ha) told me I will probably break into two parts, Christmas/New Years and Easter vacations. Fine by me.

It’s a pretty good set up as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to be rich but I will be enjoying myself, regardless. So far, I really like the family. The Frau is a very nice lady, I’ve enjoyed talking to her. Helen hasn’t given me too many horror stories about the girls and I do really well with children so I’m not afraid of them. It’s going to be overwhelming to be in such a foreign place, away from everything that I know, but I think I’ll adjust fairly well. I’m a pretty resilient person. Needless to say, I am happy with the contract and I definitely accept the responsibilities.

The Diary of an American Au Pair

NOT my picture. It's from the cover of a published book of the same name. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to have this blog. I’ve been working my entire life for this experience. In a matter of months I will be getting on a plane and crossing over the entire United States, across the Atlantic Ocean, and, after an eleven hour flight, I will land on German soil. I’ll get the first stamp in my brand new shiny passport book. Shortly thereafter, I will officially be signed up for a twelve month stay in Munich where I will be working as an au pair for a great family with two very adorable twin girls.

The job came to me in the fall of 2009. I was surprised, actually, how easily it all fell into place.  I’d been researching au pair positions since early January and had sent my information out to various au pair agencies. I received a lot of information about the au pair programs in different countries and even from the beginning Germany was one of my first choices. Not because I knew anything about the country but because they had the best perks for applicants like paid flights and lesser visa requirements, stuff like that. I followed through with a finding information and was actually contacted by a representative. He told me that I didn’t really have to start the application process until at least six months before I was able to start the job and so I kind of put the search on hold until I was closer to graduation. A friend of mine, Helen, who lives in England started a job as an au pair in Munich and I was so excited for her that I kind of just lived vicariously through her experience (via Facebook, of course). I told her that I’d considered doing the same but wasn’t really in a place to seriously pursue the job. That was enough, apparently, because after a while I started to give up on the idea  of experiencing it myself.

Instead, I began to stress out about life after college and staying in Monterey, where I live and go to school. I thought about going to grad school for my Master's but mostly I just considered getting a full time job right after graduation. It wasn’t making me happy and on top of going through some personal, relationship drama at that time in my life, I was feeling very displaced. No one should feel that way, especially when they’re contemplating their own life and future.

Right in the middle of all of these personal crises,my aforementioned friend, Helen, surprised me with an incredibly refreshing (and truly life changing) Facebook message and told me that she’d recommended me to the family as her replacement for the following summer. Apparently, the family was interested and, as a result, my interest for an au pair job was renewed. Helen and I talked for a few days and she filled me in on the specifics of the job and the family. I’d seen her pictures of the girls and I was already in love. They are so incredibly cute and caring for two little girls was right up my alley. I have taken care of little boys for most of my childcare experience and I’d had enough. I needed some girly fun, princesses and dress up. Eventually, Helen gave me the mother’s email and it all kind of just fell into place from there.

The mother, Erika, called me over Thanksgiving break for a phone interview and she and I talked about my experience and about what she expected of me as her au pair. At the end of the call, she offered me the job and I happily accepted it. It’s hard to believe that happened almost six months ago. She faxed me a contract and I went over the specifics of the job, signed it, and sent it back to her. I had to apply for a passport but it came to me quickly. I am in love with it and all of the shiny, new and blank pages. I bought my one-way plane ticket to Germany in January (a whopping $560 later) and after that, my trip was official.

I leave for Germany on June 14th, less than a month after I graduate from college and I will be staying there for one year. I’m not sure exactly when I will return because it’s too hard to plan that far ahead (and who knows where I’ll be at that point) but for now, I’m on my way. The sky is the limit, really. I get to travel, with pay, gain valuable work experience, make friends, experience foreign and different cultures, and through it all, I am given an opportunity for incredible personal growth and renewal.

I made this blog so that I can share my experience with anyone who is interested in reading. Friends, family, fellow au pairs, strangers. I hope to learn something about myself and the world around me through this experience and I can’t wait to start. It seems like the next two and a half months can’t go by fast enough…