Mareike is 20 years old and began her journey as an Au Pair this Summer (2017). She is currently staying with a family in Minnesota and looks after 3 children of the age 1, 3 and 5. You can follow her journey on YouTube: “Amereike Au Pair“.
What were your reasons to choose the US as your destination of being an Au Pair?
This is the very first time for me in the US, I had not been here prior my Au Pair stay, however I had always heard from friends that went on holiday that they had a really good time. The other reason and I know this is personal preference, but I really like the American accent. Even though I knew I wanted to be an Au Pair in an English speaking country, the UK was not an option for me, because I wanted to go further away. Australia however was also not in my consideration, because of the animals.
When was the first time you thought of being an Au Pair?
It was in 2015. That was the first time I thought of it, because I was wondering about what to do after I graduate from school. I used to be fairly home based, and back in the day I did not see myself abroad. However, at some point I thought that I should really see a bit more of the world and that was when I thought of being an Au Pair. The Au Pair job really was the right choice for me, because I enjoy looking after children and I like being part of a community. I did not want to do Work and Holiday, because it is not for me to change place and job every other week. I like the stability that I have here.
What are your plans after the year?
I am currently wondering whether I should extend being an Au Pair, however I haven’t made up my mind yet. When I return to Germany I will probably study child-psychology or something alike.
What are the differences that you have come across between Germany and the US?
I would not say that life is that different here, however there are plenty of minor differences. What I have started to appreciate more about Germany is quality and efficiency. I had always heard that we are known for this, but I didn’t think that other countries would be so different. However since coming here, I can see that in Germany things are handled in a much for efficient way. What I really like about Americans is that they are so friendly and often they come and say things like: “Your hair looks beautiful today” or “I like your shoes.” and these little things really make my day. I think that German people could really take from this attitude.
How have you changed as a person since you moved to Minnesota?
I must tell you that back when I was in Germany and I heard other girls say things like: “Since I´ve been an Au Pair, I´m a completely different person”, I always kind of frowned and thought to myself: “Oh really?!” However since coming here, I must agree. Being an Au Pair really changes you. I have to rely on myself a lot more and make independent decisions. I used to put a lot more weight on what other people thought I should do when it came to decision making. But what I´ve realised is that, they are not me and only I can make the right decisions for myself. So I think I´ve grown to be more independent since I got here.
What are the things that you know now, but you would have liked to know before the Au Pair year?
It´s not so much that there are things that I didn’t know. However there are things that I thought I knew, but when I had to deal with them in reality it was a lot harder. For example if you disagree with the parents on something that is in regard to the children, you will always have to do it their way, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Or even if you know your daily life could be easier if you were “allowed” to do things differently. This is something that can be difficult, but you will have to deal with it.
The other thing is that I knew that I would have to communicate well with my host family, but sometimes I struggle with that.
Do most Au Pairs use “Tinder”?
Yes, I know a lot of Au Pairs that do. If you are an Au Pair, it is pretty much the easiest way to meet Americans. But you don’t have to use it as a dating app, you can say for example: “Shall we go to a party together?” or “Shall we go out with friends”. I think that here in the US you can find the “everyday person” on Tinder, it is very common to have the app, therefore it is used not just for dates but also to make friends.
What is the most important trait an Au Pair should have?
Patience and empathy. It is not always easy to work with children everyday, but when they cry or when they go through phases you have to remind yourself that they don’t do that to bother you, but that there is usually a reason for it. In these times you need a lot of patience.
What is the best thing about being an Au Pair?
Life experience and gaining independence.
What is your tip for finding the right family?
Do not pick the family by the area. Use your gut feeling to determine which family is the right match for you. I think there are a lot of future Au Pairs who think a popular area could compensate for a Host Family that´s maybe not the best fit, but that is not true.