My primary and secondary education spanned two countries and three languages. I left home at sixteen, then moved to Denmark to study in both English and Danish. This made me start to see my life’s internationalism and multiculturalism as an advantage. I studied abroad and learned as much as possible from the people around me. Upon graduating, I took a different path than any of my classmates. I became an au pair.
Some of you probably have no idea what being an au pair entails. It means that you are a live-in babysitter who comes from a completely different culture and country. It allows young people to experience new places and travel as well as make international friends and educate themselves. It’s a viable option for native English speakers as well as for those who want to learn English from scratch.
Since I had no idea where I should direct my future studies, I chose to do something I love and mix it with a bit of responsibility. Becoming an au pair sounded like the best choice for me, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I’ve been an au pair for two families, but this story involves the family that touched me the most.
The first family I lived with was in London. They had two wonderful boys who I loved spending time with. Since the language wasn’t an issue for me, I spent all of my free time exploring London and the neighboring cities. I loved my time with the family, especially since the mother became one of my close friends. We would sit together after the kids went to sleep, each with a glass of wine, and talk about her travels and the life she’s lived. I learnt plenty from her, and I will forever be grateful for all that she taught me.
However, my time with my au pair family wasn’t just plain wonderful, it was also extremely educational.
I learnt a lot about being in a relationship from watching the parents’ marriage unravel. And it reminded me of my own childhood. I not only learned how to take care of young children but also discovered that life is much more than a great job and a picturesque family life. The truth can be extremely different from the picture we choose to show to the world. And that taught me to never judge anyone without knowing their full story.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with the family for a long time. However, I moved on knowing that I’ve left a mark in their lives and they had left one in mine. I left with memories of putting the boys to sleep and of how excited they were when I was the one telling them goodnight. I left feeling fulfilled and more mature than I would have if I had never become an au pair. Moreover, learning to adjust to the real world without my family prepared me for a lot of future experiences in my life.
Being an au pair shaped me as a person and required courage, which I didn’t know I had. I grew more during my short time with that London family than I could ever have imagined. Adventures like these are the most educational since they prepare us for our futures. Taking that leap of faith (or rather, travel) can influence your university choice, dreams, and attitude. I recommend the au pair path to anyone who doesn’t know what to do after high school as well as anyone who wants to spend their summer break in a different country.
No matter where you decide to go, you won’t regret it.
Image credit by Sai De Silva