A common question I get asked as the school year nears an end is "any plans for the summer?" When I tell them I am going to Italy as an au pair I leave many people baffled. Most Irish people seem to have a preconceived notion that au pairs only come to Ireland. Thankfully Irish au pairs are actually in high demand and I am lucky enough to have found a great host family for the summer.
I was pessimistic going into the application process. I thought it would be long, tedious and end with me not finding a host family. How wrong was I! I made an account, added a few photos of myself and I was away. I was surprised how easy the Au Pair World website was to use. I had never heard of anyone in my area becoming an au pair so it was all new to me and the website could not have been more informative for a first time user.
The vast number of profiles was somewhat overwhelming. After scrolling and scrolling, profiles seemed to all blend into one. I applied to countless families (and had a few families apply to me!). The task of narrowing down potential families seemed daunting. In the end, I arranged Skype interviews with three families. As an introvert the Skype calls where something that I contemplated on from the moment I agreed to them. Thankfully I hit it off with two of the families, which left me to choose one.
The decision was tough but in the end I went with the Italian family in the hope that I can improve my spaghetti eating skills and also see parts of this beautiful country. I recently got a chance to speak to this family’s last au pair. She said the family was great but to beware of rabbit at the dinner table! Since we have formalized the agreement with a contract we have been in near constant contact.
My introverted side still comes out at the mention of a Skype call (but I have managed two more). My host family is very helpful and they are trying their best to make me feel like part of their family before I even arrive.
At 17 this will be my first lone trip away from home. Traveling alone, minding two young boys and communicating with an Italian grandmother that speaks no English will all be challenges. However I am looking forward to getting to know as much as I can about the Italian culture and of course the sun is a plus. The only thing that may catch me off guard is the hiking that my host family does every Sunday.
I hope that my Gaelic football background gives me something to work with, but I think the heat may mean that the 8 year old and 10 year old will fly up the mountains ahead of me. All I can hope for in that situation is to get a nice tan. I think that if anybody wants to experience a new culture and a different way of living that they should definitely consider becoming an au pair. The process is so simple and there seems to be a family to suit everyone. I am enjoying the experience and I haven’t even reached Italy yet!