My au pair stay in the time of Brexit

Leonie gives a report on her current gap year as an au pair in England, which is going great – despite the ongoing Brexit drama and needing to find a new host family.

Two au pairing friends look at a lake

Update on Brexit: UK and EU citizens no longer have reciprocal rights of free movement. Read the specific effects of these changes in our article "Au pairing in the UK after Brexit".

Hi, my name is Leonie, I am 19 years old, from Germany and at the moment (October 2019) an au pair in England. That’s a lot of information all at once, isn’t it? Let’s start at the end: England? Why England? Isn’t that a little complicated right now with the Brexit and everything? And why in god's name did I choose England? 

Breaking it down to the main reason – I’ve always liked England! I like the language (meaning the British accent), the possibility to find the country‘s history basically everywhere and the people. Besides that I fell in love with London the first time I visited it (although London isn’t comparable to England as a whole). Those were my reasons. 

But what about Brexit?

Every time somebody asked me about the choice of my destination, it led inevitably to the topic of Brexit. Since it has never really been a point of discussion for me if England was the right country in which to spend my au pair year,  I usually just shrugged my shoulders and went on with the conversation. In my opinion, it is really the only sensible thing to do. 

The Brexit discussions are already going on for forever (who knows how long they will proceed!). The Britons are exhausted themselves, and I did not have the time or the wish to postpone my gap year. To be extra well-prepared, I got a travel-passport because I only had my German national ID to begin with. But I’m probably not going to need that in any case. 

Even if England actually leaves the EU at the end of this month, we au pairs (like every other EU citizen) will still be able to cross borders without a visa till the 31st of December 2020. That’s what the “policy paper” ensures us! If you want to read more about that, check out this AuPairWorld Blog article. So there is no reason to panic. I guess we will just have to see what the future brings us after 2020.

Being here I don’t notice anything besides the ongoing discussions in radio and TV and some demos on the streets. No food shortage in the shops or anything similar! 

I really had a completely different problem when I arrived host family! 

The story of my host family search

I found my host family on Aupair World and even got the chance to meet them in person last summer in London. After spending a day with them, I was 100% sure I had found the perfect family! 

Unfortunately after spending the first week with them, I realised that they weren’t so perfect for me. I never had the feeling of actually having arrived there, wasn’t happy about my tasks and couldn’t really build a relationship with them. The family was nice, the location was super and the pocket money was alright as well, but I just felt bad there. After many tear-stained Skype calls with my parents, I finally decided with a heavy heart to talk to my host parents. At the same time, I started to search for a new family in a Facebook group for au pairs in my area. Initially I just wanted to check if I even had other possibilities. 

Things got complicated (but I managed!)

Sadly my host family did not really cope with me having problems in a good way and decided to kick me out of the house. I was to leave within four days no matter where! Now it was up to me to find a new family as soon as possible and I was actually lucky! A girl was looking for a new au pair for her family, since she would return to her home in a few weeks. I texted her and two days later I met my new host-mum. Right from the start I felt way better in my new family than I had in the first one. Sometimes destiny gives you the best chances!

The right family makes all the difference

In my experience it all comes down to being with the right family. Now I actually have nearly the same jobs I had in the first family but I still feel so much better! It’s also very important to realise if you have a problem you shouldn't  be afraid to talk to your family about it. They should be understanding and try to find a solution with you. If they don’t, be brave enough to change your family. I know it isn’t easy, it wasn’t for me either, but you are going to live with those people for some time and you should be able to enjoy that time! The au pair year is supposed to bring you joy and give you the possibility to experience a foreign culture. 

Being a little homesick is normal, but it’s simple to overcome when you talk to your new au pair friends. Having people around me who are going through the exact same thing I am really helped me in a lot of situations. Again it’s thanks to Facebook that I know them. It is actually really strange how fast people I’ve never met before became good friends to me.

Of course I miss my friends from home a lot, but when I go back after nine months I’m going to tell them a lot about a home far away and strangers who became family...

Find out more in my blog

If you want to read more about me and my au pair year or need some advice on your own adventure you can check out my blog! I’d be happy to welcome you to my little blog family!