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.
#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.
#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).
#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.
#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)
#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.
And enjoy your AuPair year as much as you can