Louisa is 20 years old and currently looks after 3 children of the age 1, 5 and 7 in the US state Minnesota. She left Germany in March 2017. You can follow her journey on YouTube (her channel is in German).
She recently decided to extend her Au Pair time for a whole year, therefore this interview will mainly focus on the extension program.
Why did you decide to be an Au Pair in the US?
Originally I signed up to be an Au Pair in Australia although the USA were always my dream. The reason is, that my dad did not like the idea of me going away for a whole year, so the plan was to go to Australia for 6 months. However, one day i was sitting at my internship and realised, this might be my only chance to make it happen. When I came home to tell my dad, I was prepared to explain and convince him, only to be surprised that I did not have to do much convincing at all. Suddenly he said: “Well, if this is what you want then you should do it!” That was my journey to being an Au Pair in the US.
How did you find out whether Au Pairing was for you?
The first time I came across the idea, is when a friend of mine went as an Au Pair to Boston. Then I started to follow various Au Pairs on YouTube and slowly I thought to myself: Yes, this is for me! I already had plenty of childcare experience and I knew that I wanted to experience the American lifestyle first hand, living with a family. Not traveling from place to place.
Let´s talk about extension, why did you decide to extend for 12 months?
Well first of all, I believe that extension is an amazing opportunity. I always knew that if I extend, then it would be with another family. Not because I don’t like my host family, we have a great relationship, I love them, but just because I want to have a completely different experience.
What do you mean by “different experience”?
When I arrived I was looking after a 3 month old baby, now she is 1. I know that everyday life with older children is completely different to what it is with young children and I want to experience this as well. The other point on my list is living on the East Coast. When I was in Germany, I had it in my mind that I wanted to be an Au Pair near New York city. Now I am in Minnesota, in the middle of nowhere. I have no regrets, I am very happy here, but now with the extension program, I have the chance to go and explore another state.
How is finding a family now different than for your first year?
It is a different experience for 3 reasons:
- I am a lot more specific with what I want.
- I am more confident.
- I have a lot more families who are interested in me.
Why do you think are there so many more families interested in hiring you?
When someone looks at an extension Au Pair, they have a lot less worries, because they already know, this person:
- Speaks English well.
- Knows what it´s like to live in the US and is happy here.
- Is experienced in the daily life with children.
- Drives confidently on American roads.
Therefore extension Au Pairs are very desired, I think.
How has being an Au Pair changed you and do you think you´re going to change more in your second year?
This question is very interesting, because I know that many Au Pairs say: “This year has changed me so much” and yet I sometimes sit on my bed at night and ask myself: “Have I changed?”. I haven’t noticed it that much to be honest. But the reason could be, because before I was an Au Pair, I did different internships in different cities and I moved around a lot. So to be on my own and independent is not new for me.
In your video, you said that you don’t sympathise with girls who extend just because they don’t know what else do to, kind of only to pass the time. Instead you are consciously choosing to extend even though you know exactly what you want to do after. How did you find out what you wanted to do next and do you have any advice for Au Pairs who don’t know what is next?
When I finished school I was pretty much clueless as to what I wanted to do careerwise. So I decided to do various internships to find out. The internship that opened my eyes was in a company that worked with media. But even then it was still fairly inconcrete what it was that I wanted to do. Only after taking a 2 day analysis journey at an Institute in Bremen, the picture became much clearer. After I knew what I wanted to study, I was ready to go abroad and be an Au Pair.
What is the best thing about being an Au Pair?
The best thing is that you find a second family. I cannot speak for all Au Pairs here, because I know that sometimes this is not the case, but when it is, I think that this is the best thing about it.
What is your advice for finding the right family?
My advice is to be very open minded when you start the search. To read all family profiles that come into your account. To make the family the main priority and not the area.
I wanted to be an au pair near New York city and now I am in Minnesota, but I do not regret my decision. I am very happy with it.
Also ask everything that you want to ask. Do not hold back because you are shy. It is important to have your questions answered, so that you have all information to make your decision.