Maëlys reports: My au pair stay - Why, what for, what's next?
In our Blog series, "My au pair stay: Why, what for, what's next?", alumni au pairs tell their stories and put their personal au pair stay in perspective. Today, French native Maëlys tells how she gained new confidence and came to love travelling over the course of six (!) au pair stays.
Why did you decide to become an au pair?
The first time it was a bit of a coincidence: I was only looking for a summer job abroad and I saw that a family was looking for an au pair in Berlin. I like children and I had already spent some time in Berlin and really liked it, so I thought "why not?".
I like to travel a lot and really find out about cultures of other countries and au pairing is a great way to do that. When you're young and don't have a lot of money and have never been abroad by yourself, au pairing is just perfect.
When were you an au pair and where did you go?
I was au pair for the first time in 2011 - 2012 (I was 19) in Berlin.
It was a great experience and so I then spent two summers in Greece, two summers in Italy and another year in Vienna (Austria).
Looking back, what did you get out of your au pair stays?
Before my time as an au pair, I didn't have much self-confidence. I'd never travelled by myself, and all in all I was a bit shy. As an au pair, you have a lot of responsibility because you are taking care of children. I gained a lot of confidence through that, and patience!
My first host family was very nice, but I also wanted to meet people my own age. To do that, you have to approach people and take the first step, otherwise you're just alone. Today it's totally normal for me to go up to people I don't know and simply make contact with them.
My au pair stays have also given me a real love of travel. But not as a tourist, more like an expat who stays a few months somewhere and really gets to know the people and to experience the ways and the culture of a new place by being in the midst of it.
I never knew what I wanted to do in the future. My experiences as an au pair in different countries where I learned new languages helped me to figure out what I want to do professionally. I have now studied law and comparative law. My aim is to work as a translator in an international or European organisation, if possible as a "digital nomad". My plan now is again to live abroad, but this time not as an au pair. So next year I'll be taking part in the European Voluntary Service in Slovakia.