Katherine is from Alberta, Canada and she has been an au pairing in France since August. She lives in Vaucresson which is a small suburb, 20 minutes by train from Paris. She is taking care of 3 children ages 8, 11 and 13. Today she tells us about her thoughts, experience and advice about being an au pair in France.
1. Why did you decide to au pair in France?
I chose to au pair in France because as a Canadian I wanted to learn French. I also think that France is a beautiful country and it has been a dream of mine to live in Paris!
2. What do you like most about this experience as an au pair and student in another country?
I love that I’ve met so many people from around the world, and I’ve also had the opportunity to travel as France is centrally located. Since arriving I have visited Rome, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Nice!
3. What do you enjoy most about being part of a French family?
I love that I learn things from them that I wouldn’t have learned on my own. Such as French traditions, different types of food, and my host family really makes me feel part of the family by including me at events like holiday dinners, birthdays etc. It makes the distance from my own family more bearable knowing that I have people here who are looking out for me and who are there for me. My host family is really great!
4. What is your favorite thing to do with the kids?
I really enjoy making crafts or cooking! For Christmas we made sugar cookies and decorated them, and they really enjoyed that because they have never done that before. We also love to draw and color!
5. What has been your biggest challenge as an au pair? What advice would you give new au pairs?
For me the biggest challenge was getting the kids to not only see me as their friend, but as an authority figure. It can be difficult at first because you want them to like you so you don’t want to discipline them, but after the first month or so they stop testing you, and understand that they have to listen. Just push through it and understand that they will still like you even after you put them in a “time out”.
6. How do you think this experience will help you in the future?
I learned a lot about myself and it taught me to be independent. This was the first time I was ever completely on my own, without my friends or family and in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language. I learned how to overcome barriers and solve problems, such as finding my way using a map not a gps, as well as mastering the art of ‘public transportation’, which I never had to take before!.
7. What made you decide to work with Latitude International Education for your au pair service? Would you recommend this service to others that would like to au pair?
Being that it was my first time living abroad I wanted to ensure that everything was organized and that I had security. Going through Latitude gave me peace of mind that everything would be ok, as there is a lot of paperwork involved! But the agency was by my side the entire time to answer any and all of my questions! I would definitely recommend their services to anyone who is considering travelling abroad.