Jennie Springer went to England in the summer of 2015. She went to have an amazing time as an au pair, but already after the first few weeks she realised it would not work out with her host family. After consideration she decided to find a new family, without an agency, but with aupairworld.
Jennie Springer, 19 years old from a small town near Rostock, Germany went to in the summer of 2015 to England to be an Au Pair for one year.
Her first host family: originally from India, lives in a suburb of London, has two girls of the age six and 10 years. She left the family after 2 1/2 month.
Second host family: British, lives in a suburb of London, two girls of the age four and seven years.
Jennie extended her stay in her second family for an extra 6 months.
How did you come to the idea of being an Au Pair?
Originally I wanted to do an exchange year when I was in 10th grade, but I would have had to leave my class and therefore decided against it. I decided back then, that I would go abroad when I finished school. The other reason was: I didn’t know what to study.
I had always liked England and had been here a couple of times before.
Did you consider any other countries?
No, not really. I am not even sure why not.
I had been to England two times before. I felt really home and then I thought: “Well, it´s not too far from Germany and friends will be able to come and visit.”
How was your first phase of being an Au Pair and why did you change families?
From the very beginning I didn’t feel comfortable with the first family. They didn’t make any effort to make me feel welcome and my general sense was that didn’t want to make me a “familymember”.
I didn’t instantly say “Ill leave.” But it was certainly not a good way to start off.
After two month my doubts about my placement grew bigger up until the point where I had to admit, that I couldn’t last another nine month in this family. It was important to me to come out of this year with lots of positive memories.
I contacted my agency. The way they dealt with these matters was like this: “I had to give the family notice, which was two weeks and then the agency would send me new family suggestions.” I didn’t exactly liked the idea of giving notice when I had no idea if I could find a new family within two weeks.
So instead of giving notice, I asked friends around me for advice, which led me to the website Au Pair World.
What happened next?
I registered with Au Pair World and started my search. First I was hoping to find a family in the same area, because I had already made friends there, but I also applied for other areas.
Within a very short period of time I had 6 Skype interviews. This was very exciting. In the end there were only two families left to choose from and I just listened to my heart.
I decided for my current family because:
- They had younger children than the first family.
- Because I felt like they would make me a family member.
- They never had an Au Pair before and I thought it would be exciting to explore this adventure together.
- The family lives close to London.
- I had checked out the town online and it seemed nice.
- These were my reasons and I didn’t regret my decision.
How should someone decide whether to stay or leave a family?
First of all you have to decide from the heart. You need to think what´s best for you and of course consider how much time is left.
If you only have one month left, there isn’t much of a point to change then. I had nine month left and therefore it was clear that I needed to make the change.
If you would do anything different what would it be?
I would say that you should appreciate every moment you have when you go abroad.
I would recommend not to go with an agency.
What are your top learnings as an Au Pair?
- To appreciate my family in Germany and my host family here.
- How important it is to make friends when you go abroad.
- That there are so many open, friendly people in this world.
- To be self-sufficient.
- That I learn about myself here, because I have more time by myself.
- To be able to compromise.
- To be able to deal with stressful situations.
- To adapt to the host family.
- To find useful activities in my free time.
What is your top tip for new Au Pairs?
- To go without an organisation.
- To always listen to your heart.
- To make the most of the year.
- To not always think about money. This is your year. It´s not to save up, it´s to go out and use your money wisely to get the best experience possible.
Have you dealt with homesickness?
No not really. I mean, I missed home a bit, when I felt so uncomfortable in the first family, but it was never so bad that I thought I´d go home.
What are difficult situations as an Au Pair?
In everyday life I find it hard when the kids don’t listen. There are days where I feel more relaxed about it than on other days, but generally I would say, life gets easier the better you know the child.
In the beginning I think it´s very hard when children cry and you don’t know what to do. You just feel powerless. It is even harder when that happens in public.
How do you react when the kids don’t want to do what you have planned for them?
I try to make it sound great. If it is appropriate I say: “Mum and dad would be really proud.”
If we are talking about booked activities that are paid for, I don’t give in. I think it would be the wrong choice.
If it is an activity that could be done anytime, I´m more flexible.
Would you recommend the Au Pair year?
Yes, definitely. It´s a year for yourself. You learn about people in general but also about yourself.
You learn a language and expand your possibilities. Before I came here I didn’t know what to do with my life. Now I have come up with a plan.
I think this is a fantastic opportunity and I would always do it again.