Joyce, une jeune au pair brésilienne pleine de bons conseils

Nous avons eu la chance d’échanger plusieurs fois durant ces derniers mois avec Joyce, pétillante brésilienne de 23 ans, membre active de l’association Express Yourself Aupair qui libère la parole des au pairs. Elle partage avec nous son ressenti sur ses différentes expériences au pair et exprime sans tabou sa démarche pour bien vivre l’expérience au pair.

#1. Please may you present yourself?

Hi, my name is Joyce, I’m 23 years old and I’m Brazilian. I was an AuPair in the U.S for 1 year and 9 months, 1 year on NY (Long Island) and 9 months on LA (Woodland Hills). I went back to Brazil for about 1 year and now I just started my third Aupair year in Belgium (Brussels) in February.

#2. Why did you want to be an au pair?

I wanted to be an AuPair in the U.S because since when I was 15 yo I knew I wanted to have the experience to travel abroad (mainly to the U.S at that time) and live there for a while if possible… learn English was my main purpose, but I also always wanted to travel a lot too and get to know as many places as I could.

So when I was 15 I found the Aupair program on Google and felt in love with it.
I started to plan everything even it was too early for that, I started to work with kids, I did volunteer work at a kindergarten and started an English course, when I was 18 I started the process to get my Drivers License and when I was 19 I got it and applied to be an AuPair, I had a match with 20 yo and that was the beggining of the most cool and important part/step of my life (till now lol)


#3. For you, what were the most important requirements when choosing a host family?

For me it was mostly the “feeling” (even tho it doesn’t happen with some people), but for me it was very important that I felt that the family was the right one, that I felt a good “vibe” talking to them.

For example, it would not work if the family had a “perfect” profile but when we talked on Skype I didn’t have any good feeling at all.
But some other things were important too, like a comfortable bedroom, a schedule not too crazy, a family that seemed to respet the Aupair program rules (mainly about the Aupair tasks and schedule).
I didn’t care about the state or city for my first year, only for my second year that I really wanted Los Angeles.
Also I was looking for a family with a car (unless this family lived in a really big city with a really good public transportation.. which was not my case, so I had a car for both my families). P.s.: families don’t have to offer a car, they do if they want to or/and if hey have one available.
Now for Belgium it was kind of the same requirements, but one important thing for me was to find a family that was able to help me with the costs (because I had not much money to pay everything) and a family that would be kind to pay for my French course, and also to have the feeling that the family was a nice family and respected the rules as much as they could (even tho, again, we are never 100% sure if they will change throughout the year, but to have at least a good feeling helps a lot).


#4.What were your concerns before leaving for the US and Belgium?

For the U.S I actually had not many concerns, I was just really happy that I was going to have that experience.. Maybe I was a bit afraid of the family don’t like me, fortunately it was not my case. I remember I was a bit afraid of them changing everything from what they’d told me via Skype (like change my schedule , not treating me well, etc.. which was not my case too).

For Belgium my main concern was (and is) the language, the host parents do speak English but the 3yo boy speaks only French so that is being hard for me (and for him too I’m sure).
I was a bit afraid of the weather too since here is almost always rainy and cloudy (which really is lol). Now that I’ve arrived I can see that even tho it’s really rainy and cloudy, I’m still enjoying it and worshiping the sunny days more than ever 🙂


 #5. Besides, how did your family help you integrate here when you arrived?

For the U.S: they were always speaking slower, they showed me the house and their city and told me that I should feel like that was my house, I could circulate on it and go eat whenever I wanted, also that I could eat everything I wanted, they wanted me just to be comfortable.

For Brussels: They are speaking in English with me for now since I don’t speak French, and this is helping a lot. They also showed me the house and a bit of their neighborhood. And they also told me that I could feel free to circulate in the house and eat whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted.


 #6.And on your side, how did you integrate into your new american/ belgian life?

For the U.S.: I actually didn’t need to integrate much, I’m not the kind of person who feels home sick so I wasn’t sad because I was missing my family or something like that.I integrated fast and easily in the American culture (I love the towns, cities, architecture, restaurants, coffee places and roadtrip culture), and for the language, on the beginning it’s was not too easy but with a month or so I was already “ok” and then a couple of months later I was even more happy with my English (I had a beginner/intermediate English in Brazil)

For Belgium.: till now the language is the only barrier (sometimes the rain too lol), but I’m super happy that I’m getting to learn another language and I can’t wait till the end of this year when I’ll be at least having a conversation with someone, in French, it will be very cool.
For the Belgium culture I like it too, love the bistros, parks and architecture.

#7. In your opinion, what are the important qualities of being an au pair?

For sure it’s being easy going, but also enjoying being around kids (at least most of the days lol) and be a calm person, responsible.

#8. Finally, some advices to those who would like to become au pair?

 Try to plan ahead of time, if you don’t have a drivers license make sure to get one, save money for visa other expenses and make sure you really are an easy going person and that the Au pair program is really what you wanna do, if you hesitate about the program, maybe it’s cause it’s not for you, at least now, maybe in the future.

Also ask everything for he family, don’t be ashamed to ask literally everything you want to, even if you think it may be “silly” for them.
And ALWAYS read the contracts and rules (agency, family contact, insurance, worker rights for the country you are going to live..everything), make sure you know your rights and stand for yourself, save the important emails/numbers, to call in case of any danger or/and difficult situations.
Never ever let anyone treat you in any disrespectful way :
– if you feel in danger call the police and/or your agency and leave,
– if it’s not too bad, invite the family for a chat face to face and explain your feeling.
– if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to ask for a rematch.. just don’t stay in a place were you don’t feel good and are not happy or is not treated as you should.
Try as much as you can not to text about important things, face to face is always the best alternative. Texting almost always ends you not well (Believe me, I’ve been there).
And enjoy your AuPair year as much as you can
photos joyce 1
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