How to get in…

Just one year ago I signed my Au Pair contract with my first Host Family. Because I feel like this is a special day for my year, I decided to write a post just for this day.
What topic would be more perfect than telling you how to become an Au Pair.

I know that a lot of my readers are Family and Friends. But there also quite a few curious people visiting my blog and hopefully this post can help someone to become an Au Pair as well.

The first question you have to ask yourself is, if you want to find a host family with the help and support of an agency, or if you’re alright on your one.
I wanted to be on the safe side and decided to get the help of an agency.

As it can be quite hard to find a verified agency (I wouldn’t recommend an unverified one!) I think it’s best to use an agency-finder on official websites.
For Germany I can recommend Guetegemeinschaft Au Pair as an agency-finder and rausvonzuhaus for general information. If you are from a different Country the International Au Pair Association may be helpful for you.

Soon I found the agency MultiKultur e.K. International Exchange Programs, which sparked my interest by the amount of different programs to go abroad. As my focus was mainly the Au Pair program, I checked what they could offer me. I really liked that you can choose between just the placement with a family through the agency and the option to keep them as a back-up and support throughout the year. Of course it is more expensive to keep them as a back-up then just being placed through the agency, but it will help you when you need to change families during the year.

The next step is to fill in an application form. When you apply at Multikultur you can choose how you want to do it. Next to the old-fashioned way of applying by post, you can apply on their online portal as well. The good thing with the online application is that you can do it step by step and don’t need to do it all in one day.

Next to a normal application form they also ask you for pictures – preferably nice pictures of you, your family and maybe with children you took care of – a letter for the host family to introduce yourself and most importantly references. Because they promise you only verified families, they also want to offer the families only verified Au Pairs. Apart from at least two childcare references, they also ask for a reference  of  character. With all these information they just want to make sure that you are suitable for the job of being an Au Pair.

After you’ve been accepted by the agency they bring you in contact with one of their english partner agencies. For me this partner agency was the british Au Pair agency smartaupairs.
Before they’ll set up your profile they ask for a chat with someone of their team to have the chance to talk to you and get a feeling for who you are and how good your english is. The 15 minutes chat will be scheduled in advance and takes place on Skype.
When they’ve got all the information they need, your profile will be set up and the search for a family can begin.

Smartaupairs works with “Family Matches”, which basically means that they match your main criteria with the families and then suggest you this family in your family matches section on your profile. You can then read through the Family’s letter for the Au Pair, see their pictures and compare their profiles. Just like you get a family suggestion, the same family get you suggested in their Au Pair suggestions.
As there is contact information provided, it’s up to you if you want to make the first step and send the family an email and show your interest.

It is always  good to make the first step, but there is no shame in waiting for the family to get in contact first. So after I had my first family suggestions I sent out a few emails to try to get into contact with the families and schedule a Skype chat with them.

The next few weeks were filled with Skype chats with potential host families. Some were during the day, some were in the evening. With some families I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be the right fit for them, with other families I would’ve liked to go further. In the end it was the 18th May last year, when I first talked to the woman who later on became my first host mother.

They seemed to like me and told me during our first chat that I’m currently on top of their list. This information was precious to me, as they were on top of mine as well and I was really hoping that I could start my journey with them. At the end of the chat we decided to have a second chat – which is always a good sign – so I could meet her husband and the boys.
The following Saturday we had our second chat where I met the boys for a few questions and also the host father. After it were just the both of us again we more or less decided that I’m going to start as their Au Pair for the 1st August 2016.

After this chat I was really excited! I finally found my family!
I sometimes felt really down, because it seems like there is no right family for me, they were already taken or even worse, would turn me down after a second call.
All in all it took me less than two weeks to find my family, which was mostly due to the timing. Most host families look for a new Au Pair in May/June/July, so they have enough time to organise everything before the Au Pair comes over.

Through my search I’ve been in constant contact with both agencies, who were always asking how my search was going, would contact a family for me if they didn’t respond and cleared out the families from my matches I wasn’t interested in.

When we settled on me being their Au Pair, we had to wait till Monday, 23rd May to tell the agency. After they’ve sent the contract to my host parents and they’d filled everything in, I got the contract myself and filled in my part and signed everything. With my host mother’s signature, my signature and the signature of someone of my german agency the contract was valid .
Once my flight was booked, we signed a travel contract that stated when I arrive and where and that the family will pick me up.

Last thing on my agenda before I could leave was the right insurance! Luckily the agency could help with that as well. They don’t have insurances, but they can tell you a good one: DR.WALTER
They are specialised in Au Pair and visits abroad in general, but especially for long-term visits.
Finally my year could start!

After the first few days the agency was already in contact with me to make sure I’m fine and everything is alright. These check ups happened regularly during my stay with the host family.
But the agency wasn’t just helping with the family, they also provided different ways of getting to know other Au Pairs and finding friends. Next to the Au Pair meet ups organised by the agency, we also had a facebook group to organise smaller Au Pair meetings and got a list with all the Au Pairs and where they live in London to help to find Au Pairs in your region.

Being an Au Pair can be quite risky! Since I’m here, I’ve heard really bad stories about how families treated their Au Pairs. Luckily I wasn’t treated too badly, but with the time I just noticed that this family wasn’t as fitting as I once thought.
If I wouldn’t have had my agency and with that the safety and help, I may would’ve never considered leaving my host family and start looking for a new one.

But as you may know I’ve decided to leave my first host family after 2 months. Because I was quite uncertain how this whole changing process works I took the chance at a big Au Pair meet up and spoke to a member of my english agency. Not only did they understood my situation, but they also helped by giving me advice on how to go on with the family.

They would start looking for a new family for me as soon as I ask them to, but before they start the search I had to give my host family a two weeks notice and tell them that I want to leave their family. However I would still have to stay with them for another two weeks to give them the chance to find a new Au Pair and to give me the chance to find a new host family.

As I gave my host mother the two weeks notice on a sunday, I called the agency straight away on Monday morning and asked them to start my search again. Part of this ‘quitting’ process was that they had a chat with me and with my host mother about my reasons for leaving, so they can decide if they want to find a new Au Pair for the family or a new family for me. After they decided that there was no problem with either one of us in general but we just didn’t work out together, they updated my profile and put it back online.

The task of finding a new family had begun. Depending on the time you want to change, it can be quite hard to find a new family. It seems like I didn’t choose the right time. Even though I still had quite a few family matches, there was no right fit for me.
After one week had passed I was positive that I was settled, however the family then decided to not choose me but a different Au Pair.
Therefore I kinda had to start my search all over again. As I had only one week left and time was running out, my german agency expanded the search and involved all of their other partner agencies here in England.

But there is one more option: AuPairWorld.
AuPairWorld is a webpage that connects Au Pairs and host families without an agency. It is free of charge for Au Pairs and families have to pay a rather small amount in order to get all access.

After filling in all of your information and writing a bit about yourself in your profile, you’re ready to start looking. Because there is no agency behind it and it’s as good as free, there are no checks on the families either. Therefore you can find all kind of families on there and you have to be a bit more careful on who you choose to get in contact with.
Another problem is that a lot of the families won’t respond quickly. I think I still have over 10 unread and unanswered messages to families in my AuPairWorld inbox.

You would think that you’ll find a new family quite soon when there are three or four agencies searching for you and you have a profile on the worlds biggest Au Pair platform. However I was still without a new family when I had to leave my old host family.
Luckily I had a place to stay and therefore I could keep looking while still in England. Other Au Pairs are not as lucky and have to go back to their country until they’ve found a new family.

While staying with friends I kept on talking to families from the agencies and from AuPairWorld. At the beginning of November, nearly a whole month since I’ve left the family, I finally found a new host family on AuPairWorld. The risks for the rest of my Au Pair year are going to be that there is no agency that could help me if there will ever be a problem. Knowing this risk I still decided to stay with this family, because I didn’t know when the agencies would find a ‘better’ family or if there’s even something better.

The main downside to he family not being an agency family is that I’m now no longer part of an agency either. While the english agency dropped me completely, I can still call the german agency for advice – which they will gladly give – and I could even ask them to find me another new family, if I would consider changing again (don’t worry, it won’t happen). However they can only give me a certificate of the time I’ve been with one of their host families and therefore just for the first 2 1/2 months of my year,

As I still had three weeks till I could start with my new family, I tried to find somewhere else to stay for the time being. I only needed a short-term host family, or how I like to call it a gap family. Finding a host family only for a short time like two weeks is quite hard and neither agencies nor AuPairWorld were really of help.
However there is a third way of finding a host family. When you’ve already been an Au Pair, you’re already part of all kinds of Facebook groups for Au Pairs. Most of these groups are not only for Au Pairs, but often for host families as well and some of them are just for finding a host family/Au Pair.

I posted in two different groups that I’m looking for a gap host family for just two weeks and no interest of staying longer, as I’ve already found my new family and just have to wait until I can start there.
I was really lucky to have found a family that was up for it. Even though I only got paid half as much as they should have paid me, I was just glad to get a bit of money again while staying for free in London.

It was a hard journey and looking back I sometimes have to ask myself if I always made the right choices. But I learned a lot through it all and no one can take these experiences ever away from me.

If you want to be an Au Pair you just have to decide for yourself if you want to be on the safe side, but my example is the best one to show you that there’s really no safe side. However I would always choose Multikultur again and probably wouldn’t use AuPairWorld again.

I hope this was of any help for someone who’s not quite sure how to approach this whole thing. If there are any questions, feel free to ask! I’m more than happy to share all my experiences with you and give you advice, as long as you want them.

Love,
Vicky Xx

Helpful links:
Guetegemeinschaft Au Pair (Verified Au PAir Agencies)
rausvonzuhaus (Programmes for visits abroad)
International Au Pair Association (International Verified Au Pair Agencies)
MultiKultur e.K. International Exchange Programs (Au Pair and Travel Agency)
smartaupairs (Au Pair Agency for UK and Australia)
DR.WALTER (Insurance Company especially for Au Pairs and long-term visits abroad)
AuPairWorld (Free Au Pair and Host Family platform)

On a last note: I really want to send all my love to Manchester today. I’ve been to the city just recently and it left me quite shocked to hear what happened. I feel sick thinking how someone could willingly do this and even more so when children are involved! I hope everyone recovers well and the missing children will find their way back home!
#PrayForManchester #MissingInManchester

 

21st December: Starting all over

Today is all about my new family. I’ve mentioned them a few times now, but I never really wrote about them and my time with them.

As I was getting more and more desperate to find a new family, I decided to make an account on Aupairworld.com. Every one can sign up for free and can start to look for a host family or host families can look for an Au Pair.
I got in contact with several families, but never found the one I thought would be the right one for me. At the beginning of November I finally got into contact with a family I was quite sure could be a good match. On the 4th November I had the first chat with my future host mum and just a day later I talked to my future host father too. As we were all quite happy and confident that we’re a good match, we decided that I would be their new Au Pair.

But as good as the family was, there was also a problem. I wouldn’t be able to start with them until the end of November, which means another three weeks without a family. I was now for two weeks with Andrew and his family already and knew I couldn’t stay with them for another three weeks. Nonetheless I said yes and started looking for a gap family.
After another week I went back to London to stay with a gap family.

On the 21st November I went to see my new host mother for the first time. I arrived shortly after 12pm and had a nice little chat with her. A few minutes before 1pm we went to pick up the youngest from school. It was the first time I got to see one of the boys I would start looking after in just a weeks time.
Back at home we sat down with a little snack and  I tried to solve a Baymax Puzzle with him. At 2.15pm they had to go, so I left too.

A week later it was finally time to start all over again, by moving in with my new host family. As Is was supposed to be there at 11am, I left around 10am in Oakwood. When I arrived with bag and baggage, I was showed to my room before we sat down for a little snack. Again we had to pick up the youngest from school around 1pm. This time we walked to his school and went groceries shopping on our way back.
Later we went to pick up the middle boy.

Meeting him was so different to meeting the boys of my first host family. You can tell that he’s british as he introduced himself with a posh ‘Hello, my name is V.’. Then he came around to me and hugged me, looked up at me and said with a fond smile ‘You’re nice!’.
I was so amazed at how affectionate he was so already, especially because he just met me.
When we came back he showed me around the house and to his room.

Normally I don’t need to cook, however if my host mum is too late and needs me to cover for her, she would ask me to help out. As she had to bring the oldest one to an afternoon thing, she asked me to cook while she is dropping him off. When they both came back we all had dinner together. After dinner it was time for the boys bath and then bedtime.
Around 8pm I was finished for the day.

The next morning I started at 7am again. In the morning time I would prepare breakfast and make sure that all the boys had eaten before they would get dressed. At 8.30am the latest the mum would leave with them for drop off. That morning I went with her to get to know the boys schools, so I could help out with the school run if needed. At first we would drop off V. at his school and then would drive to H.’s (the oldest) school. Last but not least we went to L.’s (the youngest) school.

Back at home I had some free time until 3pm when L. and H. were both back from school. When the mum had to leave to pick up V., I was alone with them and at first a bit over challenged, but that feeling was soon gone and I knew what to do.
The next day was quite similar to the other two, except that V. and L. had swimming in the afternoon and my host mum showed me how that’s done.
Friday just changed a bit as I had to pick up L. on my own, so I know how it’s done and could do it the following weeks.

On Monday morning, after the school run, my host mum and I sat down together to talk about the week’s schedule. My normal working hours are every morning from 7-9am and then from 3.15-7.30pm again. Wednesday and Thursday are the only exceptions, as I would have to start working at 1pm already to pick up L. and spent some time with him.
But of course all these hours include some flexibility, which is normal, as no week is like the other.

My schedule for the week included to pick up V. from school at 4.30pm, but I had to take L. with me in the baggy. Although the Tuesday was just a normal one, the week changed on Wednesday as my host mum’s mother would arrive in London to stay for a few days. Because she wanted to spent some time with her grandchildren, I was free until 4pm and then just had to pick up V., while the grandma stayed with H.

On Thursday I was free until 3pm and then had to bring H. his backpack to his school, as he would spent the afternoon with his social worker. When I was back I was free again, while the mum and grandma went to the swimming pool with V. and L. for their swimming lessons. Around 5.45pm H. was back and we had some bonding time together until the others were back.
As the grown ups wanted to go out that night, I was asked to babysit. This includes reading a story to the boys and making sure that they had all their medications and then just being available if they wake up during the night.

Friday must have been the most relaxing day, as I only had to work during the morning hours and then was off for the rest of the day. Since I was traveling back to Germany for a weekend and my host mum had her mother there to help, she said it would be fine and I could take an earlier train to the airport.

The last week was quite hard. I was back in London at 12.30am in the night from sunday to monday and had to be back at work at 7am the next morning. Needless to say that I was quite tired and spent my free time in the morning catching up with sleep. The day was just a normal day, but I was asked to babysit in the evening. The same for Tuesday and Wednesday. For Tuesday I was also asked if I can start at 1pm again instead of 3.15pm.
On Wednesday I had to bring L. to school and then was off till 3.15pm, because I had the early start the day before. Originally I was asked to babysit that night again, but didn’t need to as my host father stayed home.

On Thursday everything changed again. As Christmas was just around the corner, the schools of the two youngest had already started their christmas break. Therefore it was only H. who needed to get ready for school in the morning. After a small break of two hours I was back at work at 11am. From 2-4pm I took the two younger ones to the park to power them out a bit and when we came back they had to get ready for swimming already. Again the mum would do the swimming and I would have to wait for H. to be brought home by his social worker.

Friday morning was quite similar to Thursday and H. was the only one who had to get ready for school again. As they would leave for their holiday directly after school was over, I was asked to work in the morning instead of the evening.
At 11.30am I once I again took the two younger ones to the park to tire them out a bit, so it would be easier to sit down in the car for a while. When we came back at 1.15pm I got them ready for the car and after H. was picked up and the last things loaded into the car, they left for their holiday.

After I’ve spent three weeks with the family I can say that so far it was the right decision. Thanks to my experience with the previous family it was easier to understand if the new family will work out or not. But as everything that I didn’t like with the old family was completely different with the new, I’m pretty sure that I’m with the right family now.

Lastly I can only say that, no matter how hard it was to get there, I’m not regretting anything because it’s part of my year and the experiences I had to make.
Now I can really enjoy my time in London!

Vicky! Xx

20th December: 23 632 steps

Welcome back to post 20 of my 24 Days to Christmas! Only four days left, can you believe it? Todays post is an addition to yesterdays post.
As I said yesterday, I went on Sunday (20th November) and Monday to central London.
The decision to go on Monday was partly because my new host mother asked me if I could come and visit them before I would move in the week after.So I got on my way from Oakwood to Parsons Green to be at their home for 12pm. At 2.15pm I left again and decided to walk to Kensington.

I only had enough money to pay for one more Tube Journey, so I decided walk the 3.8km to Kensington. In South Kensington are three of London’s most famous museums: The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Luckily nearly every museum has a free entry policy and you can just go and visit them.
I decided I would go to the Victoria & Albert Museum, as it has my name in it.

At 3pm I arrived at the Museum and started my tour through it.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, in short V&A, is the world’s largest Museum of decorative Arts & Design. It holds a collection of over 4.5 million objects, which cover 2000 years of art from all over the world.
The V&A was founded in 1852, a year after the Great Exhibition. The same year it was moved to its present location and was named South Kensington Museum.
In 1899 Queen Victoria set the foundation stone for the grand façade and the main entrance. It was really important to her and her husband, as they cherished the idea to make art available to all, the original reason why the museum was established.
Therefore they also changed the name to Victoria and Albert Museum.

The museum is really big and I haven’t had a plan where to go so I just went any way and would see where I end up. After 10 minutes I stumbled across the for me most mesmerising part of the museum: a plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David!
This cast from 1556, is one of many replicas and was a gift to the Queen Victoria from the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in 1857. While the original David was made from one block of marble arch, this one was made up of several hundred pieces and is reinforced with metal rods. Michelangelo’s David was built between 1501 to 1504 and is placed in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, since 1873.

This cast is placed in the Cast Court on the ground level of the V&A. From there I went through the sections of European Sculptures from 1300-1600 and Medieval & Renaissance 1350-1600.
Next was the Britain from 1500-1760 exhibiton on Level 2. I mostly just walked through the exhibitions and just took pictures when something really interested me. It’s really nice that you not only get free entry to the museum, but you’re also allowed to take pictures everywhere. Except for the Jewellery exhibition on Level 3. The William & Judith Bollinger Gallery holds all kinds of jewellery, even some tiaras.

The Theatre & Performance exhibition is on the same level as the Jewellery one. For me it was the most interesting exhibition and I really liked learning something about all kinds of Theatres and seeing some of the costumes from musicals or musicians.

The last Exhibition I went to see, was the Silver exhibition, also on Level 3. As the Museum closes at 5.30pm the Whiteley Galleries were already closed when I came there, but a nice lady let me in for a quick look around.

When I had to leave I haven’t seen nearly half of the exhibitions and I would have to come back a few more times. But for the day I had to do something else.
As it was 5.30pm and the peak time of the underground had already started, I had to stay in central London until the peak time was over.
So I started google maps and went on my way to Piccadilly Circus. While I was walking I spotted Harrods and just decided to give it a go.

Harrods once opened as a small grocery store and is nowadays one of the largest department stores in the world. When Henry Charles Harrod established the store in 1849, he had only two employees. Hard to believe how far the store had come from then.
Harrods has a total of 330 departments on 7 floors and under their motto ‘Omnia, Omnibus, Ubique’ (Everyone, Everything, Everywhere) they promise they can sell anything you want.
Next to all the glorious things you can buy there, Harrods also impresses with its extravagant decorations and designs, like the Egyptian Hall.

Harrods is so big that you can actually get lost in there. Every time I’m in there I’m lost and don’t know where to go to find the things I’m looking for, or more dramatically my way back out. Last time the cashier asked me if I would need help to go somewhere else, but couldn’t tell me the way outside herself.
After I visited the Christmas department and one of the many clothes departments, I found my way back out at 6.20pm.

As it was still too early for the tube, I decided to walk again. My destination was still Piccadilly Circus, but as I came across Hyde Park I changed my plans once again.
From the 18th November 2016 till the 2nd January 2017 the Winter Wonderland, a festive theme park, is in Hyde Park. This year they’re celebrating their 10 year anniversary, as the first Wonderland started in 2007. Next to the main attractions it holds London’s largest German-style Christmas Market and over 100 spectacular festive rides and attractions.
The entry to the Wonderland is free, but you would have to buy tickets for the main attractions in advance. They consists of an ice rink, the magical (ice-) kingdom, nutcracker on ice, bar ice, Zippos Christmas circus, cirque Berserk, the scooty Christmas show and the giant observation wheel.
To celebrate the anniversary they even have the Munich Looping as an attraction. The Munich Looping is the world’s largest transportable roller coaster, which is also a part of Munich’s Oktoberfest.

I just walked through the Winter Wonderland to see what it’s about and to take some quick pictures. Hopefully I can go back there before it’s over.
After just 15 minutes I was on the other side and left the Theme Park. As it was finally after 7pm and the peak time was over I decided to take the Tube at Marble Arch Station and go home. At 8.15pm I was finally at home, after I’ve walked 23 632 steps and a total of 16.1km.

Even though I was quite tired after this long day, I was also happy that I managed to see so much! Especially in the V&A. It is so much better to visit the museums during the week, as they’re free of tourists.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

19th December: Teletubbies, Barbie and Co.

On my first weekend back in London, I finally wanted to go back to the City Center. But my tight budget wouldn’t let me go there too often. So I had to plan the outings carefully, as I wanted to do as much as possible so it was worth the money. Since my host family was gone from Thursday to Tuesday, I choose Sunday and Monday to go to Central London.

Around 9.30am on Sunday, 20th November I went to the Tube in order for me to arrive at Piccadilly Circus at 10.15am. Shortly before I had to get off the Tube, some musicians entered and played ‘Hit the Road Jack!’ for us. Normally I’ve seen things like this just on YouTube and seeing something like this live, just showed me once more that I’m back in the wonderful city called London.

From Piccadilly Circus I walked to Regents Street, where the big Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade would take part for the second time.
To ensure that everyone is safe, Regents street had turned traffic free for the whole day. The Parade would start at 10.30am so I went down Regents street until I found a good spot.
Originally I planned to see the parade with my friends, but they arrived later and then it was already so crowded that we just decide to meet up afterwards.
Around 10.50am the parade finally arrived at my location and I could enjoy being thrown back in time as I saw some of my Childhood TV characters come to life.

But apart from some classics like Barbie, Teletubbies and Elmo, there were a few new ones I’m a bit too old for. The once I liked the most were Characters of the Sylvanian Families. When I was younger some Friends of my Grandparents would give them playhouses of this brand for their grandchildren. I always loved these dolls houses and had to stop my grandfather earlier this year when he wanted to throw them away.

Sadly the parade was over after just 30 minutes, but that’s still long enough when you think about how much preparation they had to put into this.
Since the parade was over I tried to meet the girls. As it was still too crowded and everyone tried to leave there was no way to get through. At 11.50am we finally got together and went to a diner called Five Guys, where they enjoyed their lunch. After another 30 minutes we decided to walk to Oxford Street to visit the Disney Store.

When we were finished there it was already 2pm and Kathi had to head home. Amelie, Marieke and I then walked to Leicester Square, as they wanted to see the new Lego Store. Around 2.40pm we arrived there to see that we would have to queue up for at least an hour to get in. So we then changed our minds and after Farina joined us we decided to visit the M&M Store, which is also at Leicester Square, instead.

While the others stayed inside until 3.30pm, I went back outside a bit earlier as I was already finished. The store is quite big and you can buy any kind of merchandise, but also every flavour of M&M that exists.
However the best thing are the life-sized M&M statues. Every colour has their own statue in their own area. As that’s not enough there is a M&M version of the Beatles Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.

After the M&M store we went to see the Christmas Market on Leicester Square. It is a nice and quite small market and you can tell that it’s supposed to be like a typical german Christmas market. If you didn’t thought it at first, you would definitely think so after you saw the food stall.
They had Germany’s finest Bratwurst and Krakauer. And they actually advertised it like this on their menu board themselves.
But I have to say that, even though they have some similar things to the Christmas market at home, you could just tell that it’s not an original german market.

Because we were already in the area, we went to Chinatown. The main street of Chinatown is the Gerrard Street and it’s in the heart of London’s Chinese Community. When the first chinese people came in the 18th century, they already settled in this area.
Several Street Signs in Chinatown are actually written in Mandarin, the chinese language.
As we were visiting one Chinese shop after another we made our way through Chinatown to slowly go to Covent Garden. After we left Chinatown behind we walked through the Streets of London until we came across a Waterstones Bookshop.

While the others were still looking around I was ready to go again, but the next stop would be Covent Garden for them to have dinner. As I didn’t had the money to go and have dinner with them, so I decided to say goodbye and go my own way. At 5pm I was on my own again and first went to go see Trafalgar Square again. I was too early for the Christmas lights, so after a short picture I turned around again and walked back to Piccadilly Circus. I even went back to Regents Street, but as it was already quite late, they had started to take down all the tents and stalls.
At 6pm I finally got on my way home to have dinner and a relaxed evening.

I know it’s a rather short post, but I’ve been on tour all day, as I’m now finally back in Germany for the Holidays!
See you tomorrow,
Vicky! Xx

18th December: Little Germany

Sorry guys that I’m always posting so late the last few days, but as it’s getting closer to Christmas I’m quite busy and always on the way.
Todays post is about the weekend when the Christmas season really started. On Saturday the 26th November, a day before the first advent, I went to the Christmas Market of the German School here in London.

One of my family’s Christmas tradition is that we would go to the Christmas Market of the Waldorf Schule Trier. As it was on the same Saturday and I wasn’t able to go there, I went to the english alternative.
Even though the market was at the German School and not the London Steiner School (the Waldorf School in London), it was just like the one at home.

The German School London or in german Deutsche Schule London and in short DSL, was established in 1971 and is now one of the 140 German Schools abroad. The school has been founded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the local association to promote the German culture and language in foreign countries. Since 2010 the school has a bilingual system so the students can choose between the qualifications of the German Abitur and the International Baccalaureate.

Since the school is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, I had to go on a long journey from Oakwood in North London to South-West London. As the market would start at 1pm, I got on my way around 11.45am. First I took the Piccadilly Line from Oakwood to Earl’s Court where I then changed to the District Line to Richmond, where I arrived around 1.20pm. For the last part of the journey I had to take the Bus 65 to the School, where I finally arrived at 1.45pm.

When I first entered the School I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s just weird to find a place in London where everybody around you speaks German. I often use german to get away from some flyer distributer in London, but that only works because it’s a foreign language here. Of course you then feel weird when suddenly everyone around you speaks german and the official language becomes a foreign language. But it was also quite refreshing to be able to go around and just talk german again.

While I was exploring the school grounds I stopped for a nice freshly made Nutella Crêpe. Walking around I also went upstairs to the first floor, but the corridors were locked as the whole thing took place on the ground floor and outside. Since it got later and I always have a bratwurst at the christmas market at home, I had one there too.

I got to know about the school through one of my ex teachers, as she once was a teacher at this school too. When I was looking at all the different booths, I even started a conversation with a mother. The funny thing is that she actually knows this teacher, because she was the class teacher of her son. We talked for a bit and she told me about the school and the life as a German in England. It was really interesting and informative.

At 4pm the Market was over and I got on my way back. As my friends were in central London I didn’t went all the way back to Oakwood just yet, but to Piccadilly Circus instead. Around 5pm I arrived there and then started a cat and mouse game with them. They would send me their location and shortly before I arrived there, they had already moved on and were at a new location. On Oxford Street I finally caught up with them. As most of the group had to leave it was only Amelie, her friend from Germany and I left.

After a bit of time Amelie had to bring her friend to her meeting point, as she had to travel back to germany that night. I stayed on Oxford Street and went shopping for a while. Around 7.30pm Amelie was back and we went to Caffé Nero to sit down and chat a bit. She was invited to join some of her friends for a birthday party later that night and I was allowed to tag along.

When we met the first one of the girls, we went shopping for a bit and soon met the birthday girl and her sister. Together we went looking for a nice pub to celebrate a bit. Around 11.15pm Amelie, Selina and I went on our way home and the Birthday girl and her sister stayed a bit longer. I would have liked to stay too, but I had a long journey again and the Piccadilly Line wasn’t a Night Tube yet. At 12.15am I was finally at home and a few minutes later in bed.

It has been a long day, but I’m happy that I went all the way to the German School! It was nice being there and to discover this German community. During the time there you could easily forget that you’re in England and not in Germany.

Hopefully I’ll be able to visit them again,
Vicky! Xx

 

 

 

16th December: Changing Nappy

When I first signed up for being an Au Pair I could choose what at what age I would prefer the children to be. Back then I would’ve never imagined I would be looking after a 13 months old girl during my time here.

But that changed on the 14th November when I moved in with my gap family and started looking after their little girl the next morning. At 8.30am my day started with breakfast and after that I kept an eye on the girl, while the parents went next door to work for a bit.
She usually would take a nap around 10-11am and would give me a little break.

All we did on that first day was play together and get to know each other. Because it was the first day it was really important that she would get used to me so she would be comfortable when her parents leave her with me. Luckily she was really good and would only start crying when she gets tired but even then I was able to get her to calm down a bit by carrying her around.
At 3pm the day was already over and gave me a bit time to explore the area where they live.

The next day started just like the one before and after her nap the mum proposed to go to the Park together. She would come with me this one time so I’d know where it is the next time and could take her on my own. At the Park we first went to the playground and let her swing for a bit and then walked the big round through the park. From the park we went to the local Sainsbury, where she bought all kinds of food for me for the next few days, as they were going on a holiday.
When we came back we had lunch and then it was back to normal until I was free again at 3pm.

The next morning I could have lie in, since the family went on their holiday early that morning and I was off work until Tuesday. Luckily they let me stay in their house for the time being, so I was able to stay in London without paying anything for a place to live.
I took the chance of the free weekend and went out a bit. I went back to central London and to see my friends again.

After the family came back late on Tuesday night, I had to be back to work at 8.30am on Wednesday morning. At the beginning everything was back to normal, except for her having to get used to me again. But that wasn’t a problem at all and we could go to the park after her nap. Once again we went to the playground first and then walked around the park a bit.

At one point she suddenly started crying – no screaming and wouldn’t stop anymore. I tried everything and the best solution was to carry her around a bit, but she still wouldn’t stop so I walked back home with her.
The only problem was that she wouldn’t stop at home and her parents couldn’t get her to stop either. After lunch and trying to get her to play a bit, we gave up and I was finished at 2.30pm already. I believe she was just a bit puzzled with the times, as they went to Poland which is one hour before english time.

But sadly it wasn’t getting better the next day. You can even say that it got worse.
On Thursday she wouldn’t stay with me in the room at all. As soon as the parents left the room she would start crying and wouldn’t stop anymore. I was getting really desperate and started to question myself if I was doing something wrong. In the end it was probably just a stomach ache, as she wouldn’t eat properly and had other symptoms too.

I was also worried, because her mum had to go to central London for a few hours the next day and I would be mostly alone with her, except for her father who had to work.
Since it would be only me and her father, they asked me to change the working hours and rather work from 10am to 5pm. When I came down in the mornings, the father asked me if I could just start after her nap, around 11/11.30am and then work until 6pm. As I haven’t planned anything for the night it was completely fine with me.

Luckily the day went better than expected. She was really good and rarely cried. We even were able to go out for a bit. Since I didn’t want to take her back to the park just yet, we just went out into the backyard. We had a lot of fun out there looking at all the airplanes. They live pretty far in the North of London and therefore the planes are already quite low in the sky and provide a good distraction for little children. I even learned the polnish word for airplane during my time with them: samolot.

After another work free weekend, I started on Monday for my last day with them. I was really happy that she was back to normal and I had once again a good day with her. This time we even went back to the Park. But once again she would start crying, only this time I was able to quieten her down. The trick was to give her a Cini Mini every time she started crying again. With this trick I was able to finish the big round through the park and walk back home with a minimum of crying.

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New week new chances

It was really satisfying to finally be able to handle the little girl on my own without much trouble. Especially because I was able to stop her from crying without her parents interfering.
Even though it was a great experience I’m quite happy that the children of my new family are a bit older. It’s just easier when the children can talk and can actually tell you what is bothering them.

Looking back I’m really happy and grateful that they gave me the opportunity to stay with them and to work with their daughter, as it was a good experience.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

15th December: Back to normal?

Will everything just go back to normal as soon as I’m back in London? The answer is no.
Like I’ve written before I have so many good friends who helped me a lot and they’re still my friends. But things are different now.

After I finally came back to London on the 14th November, I was happy to be closer with my friends again and went to visit them as soon as possible. On Thursday, 17th November, I planned to go to Amelie’s in North Finchley and Kathi and Marieke joined us. At first we just talked. They filled me in on everything I missed here in London and I told them about everything I experienced in my time away and my search for a new family.

Later on we played some board games and soon it was time for me to leave again. So Kathi and I walked back to the North Finchley High Road and after strolling around my ex neighbourhood, I decided to take the bus back home.
Walking through the area where I spent so much time and had so many memories with was weird.

A few days later I could join them for their weekend programme for the first time in a while again. On Sunday, 20th November, we planned to go to the Hamley Christmas Toy Parade on Regents Street. Since I was living in a different part of London already I took a different Tube and arrived a bit earlier and at the other end of the parade. We planned to meet up in the middle but there were too many people already and we weren’t able to meet during the parade. After the parade was over we tried to meet each other and find a place to eat.

Since the girls were hungry and wanted to go to have lunch together, we went to a diner called “5 Guys”. Sadly I haven’t had enough money so I just sat with them and ate a few fries Marieke shared with us.
After lunch we walked to Oxford Street where Kathi soon had to leave. After she left Marieke, Amelie and I walked to Leicester Square where we met Farina.

Even though I was really happy to be reunited with my friends, I had to realise that time had moved on in London too. Since they stayed together and still could do things together, they made new memories together.
I’m really grateful for them being my friends, because they really tried to include me, but in the end it was just so hard to find my place again that I didn’t tried as much to get included.

Thank you girls for taking me in again and trying to include me. Hopefully we can stay friends with me now living in another part of London, but I think that this small distance can’t separate good friends! 🙂

Love,
Vicky! Xx