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

 

5th December: Welcome to my Palace

Being in London with the name Viktoria Elisabeth, there is just one place for me to visit: Buckingham Palace!

So Amelie and I went to see Buckingham Palace on the fine Sunday afternoon of the 18th September. Since the sister of my host mum came to visit with her family the day before, I stayed home until they left, so I can spend a bit more time with her daughters.
At 1pm they then left and I got ready so I could take the replacement bus, because they once again were working on the rail track.
Due to traffic it took 45 minutes to get to Archway, so I then could take the tube to Victoria Station at 2.15pm. At 2.40pm I arrived and met Amelie, who went to the city a few hours before me. Together we walked to the Buckingham Palace Ticket shop and bought tickets for the next available tour at 4pm.

Because we had to wait for a bit, we went to the front of the Palace and took our obligatory pictures from the Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial.
With more time to spare, we went through some of the souvenir shops close to Buckingham Palace until it was finally time to que up to enter the Palace.
But before we were finally able to go in, we had to go through a security check.

Inside they offered us free audio guides, which we obviously took. We then finally could start our tour. Because we both had an audio guide to listen to, we didn’t really talk much, but rather enjoy the view. Sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the palace.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Kings and Queens of Great Britain since Queen Victoria was the first to move in, in July 1837.
It has 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 98 bathrooms and a chapel, postoffice and cinema.
After Queen Victoria moved in she built the 4th wing of the palace and thereby created the quadrangle. The forecourt, where the Changing of the Guard takes place, has been formed in 1911.

Amelie and I choose to visit the Palace on this certain date, because we also wanted to see a special exhibition which was held inside the palace from the 23rd July till the 2nd October 2016. Celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday, the Royal Collection Trust opened three exhibitions this year. Under the name of ‘Fashioning A Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe’ they showcased clothes, the Queen once had worn, in three different locations.

The exhibition was really impressive, because they presented clothes from every decade of her life. But the eye catcher surely were the Queen’s Wedding dress and her Coronation dress. One dress was more beautiful than the other. Both dresses had nice and very detailed beading and don’t get me started on the matching veils.

The only disadvantage of the exhibition was that we lost quite a lot time there. At 5.30pm they closed the exhibition and rushed us out of there, but told us that the Palace also will close in just 30 minutes time. So we then had to quickly walk trough the remaining rooms, which was quite sad because these were the State Rooms and therefore the most interesting ones, including the red themed Throne Room.

Luckily we finished our tour just at 6pm when the palace closed its doors. But we still could stay a bit in the Buckingham Palace Gardens and go through the Souvenir shop, where I purchased a nice bookmark.
To exit the Palace Grounds you have to walk through the Garden. On the way out you can get a stamp on your ticket, which you had to sign first. With this you ask them to treat your ticket purchase as a donation so they can claim Gift Aid tax relief on ones payment. In return they turn your ticket in a 1-year pass, which gives you 12 months’ complimentary admission to the Palace.

We then finally left the Palace Grounds and went to the Tube Station to drive home, where we arrived at 8.20pm. On our way there we went past The Bomber Command Memorial. It was unveiled by the Queen on 28th June in 2012.
The Bomber Command was formed in 1936 in played a critical role from the beginning of World War 2. All the 125.000 men were volunteers from all parts of the Commonwealth and Great Britain and nearly half of them lost their lives. Also the majority of them were still in their late teens.
“The fighters are our salvation but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.”
This quote by Winston Churchill is engraved on the left side wall of the Memorial. On the right side is the dedication of the Memorial inscripted:
“This Memorial is dedicated to the 55.373 airmen from the United Kingdom, British Commonwealth and Allied nations who served in RAF Bomber Command and lost their lives over the course of the Second World War.”
In the middle is the Sculpture of seven Statues representing the Bomber Command aircrew, consisting of the Navigator, Flight Engineer, Mid-Upper Gunner, Pilot, Bomb Aimer, Rear Gunner and Wireless Operator (from left to right).
Behind them, above the columns is the Message of reconciliation inscripted:
“This Memorial also commemorates those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of 1939-1945”

A few weeks and more friends later, I once again went out to do a bit of sightseeing. But first I went to Parsons Green, a part of Fulham, to visit a potentially new host family. They asked me to come by at 1pm for 30 minutes, but I then stayed a bit longer and only went back to the Station at 2.20pm. Even though I really liked the family, they turned me down two days later.
Not knowing any of that yet, I went motivated to Hyde Park to join my friends who had met a bit earlier. Together we went 30 minutes through the nice Hyde Park, past some nice art works, to the Peter Pan Statue. When we arrived there it started to drizzle and when we arrived at The Italian Gardens, it was full on raining, so we took shelter and waited for the rain to pass.

After we could finally move on, we went to a McDonald’s for a lunch break. Since we were close to the Paddington Station we decided to go there to see if we can find the Paddington Bear Statue.
Afterwards we went back to Hyde Park and walked all the way to Speakers Corner, the famous place where everyone can held a speech. There were even a few people holding a speach, but we didn’t listen to any of them.

Because it was already quite late, we left Hyde Park on this corner and went past the Marble Arch on Oxford Street.
Built in 1828 it was the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. Since it was too narrow for  the Queen’s coach, it had to be removed to its current location in 1851. It was then used as a police station until 1950.
Because it was once a Royal Gateway, it’s officially illegal to pass through the Marble Arch when you’re not part of the Royal Family or Royal Guards. But we did anyway.

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Marble Arch, the Royal Gateway

On Oxford Street we walked down to the other end and took the Tube at Tottenham Court Road Station so we all were back home at 7.45pm.

Hope you liked todays post and come back tomorrow for another part of the Christmas special.

Her Majesty
Queen Viktoria Elisabeth! Xx

4th December: Overcrowding Starbucks

Happy 2nd Advent everyone!
And I’m back with another part of the 24 days to christmas countdown!

Again we’re going back in time to the 11th September. The good thing in being with an agency is that they try to bring as many Au Pairs together as possible. In order to do this, they arrange several Au Pair meet ups over the year. The first one for me was on that Sunday. They invited us all to come to the Starbucks on the New Oxford Street.

Since the meeting started at 11.30am, Amelie and I met at the Tube station at 10am. Due to Network Rail track work between High Barnet and Archway we had to take a bus replacement service to Archway and take the tube from there to Tottenham Court Road.
Luckily we arrived not only on time, but even a few minutes early.
Since the agency is located in Kent, none of them could come to actually organise the whole thing. Instead Barbara, who’s been an Au Pair for the agency years ago and ever since lives in London, came to manage everything. We were already 30 people at 11.20am and more and more were coming. It was quite hard to find a place for everyone, so we squeezed together and some even sat on the floor.

In the end we were over 50 people, I’d say. Because we were taking over the whole place, some customers even left. When nearly everyone was there everyone had to introduce themself. This was quite a hard task, because we were so many people and therefore you couldn’t hear everyone. During the introductions we noticed that more than half of the Au Pairs are from Germany, which made quite hard for us to find Au Pairs who are not german.
I don’t have a problem with german Au Pairs, but I came here to improve my english and it’s not a big help when I know I can speak german with them.
Luckily I had a girl from Sweden and one from the Netherlands in my group, when we had to form smaller groups to get to know each other better.

After a short Q&A we decided to leave Starbucks and go on Oxford street. Mainly to get out of the overcrowded Cafe. Outside we took a quick Selfie of our group, since there was a competition to win a voucher for the best group Selfie of the meeting.
We then went down Oxford Street to Bond Street to bring one of the girls to her tube and then we splitted shortly after.
Even though we had a great time and we made a Whatsapp group, we don’t really are in contact with each other any more. I don’t know about the others, but I just write from time to time with two of the girls, but sadly I haven’t seen them again.

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Needless to say that Esmeralda won with this picture! 🙂

Since my group splitted, I reached out to Amelie again and asked her what she was up to. Apparently she stayed with her group at Starbucks, so I went back there and got to know another group of Au Pairs. Sadly they all live on the outskirts of London, but they are quite the fun group anyway. Because we’re all from Germany we obviously talked german the whole time. Soon we noticed that two of the girls have quite a similar accent as mine and we started talking more and more with accent.

Around 3pm we then left Starbucks to go to Primark and after that to Forbidden Planet, which is a merchandise store for fantasy worlds and all the comic universals.
From there we went back to the Oxford Street and went to several small shops to then end up at McDonald’s for a small snack before we all went on our way home.

The next meeting I went to was two weeks later. On Sunday morning, the 25th September the big BAPAA Au Pair Welcome Event took place from 11am to 1.30pm for all London-based Au Pairs at the International Students House, London W1. There has been another time frame the same day for Au Pairs from all the other Locations. This meeting is quite different from the others, since it’s not only for Au Pairs from the Smartaupairs agency, but for all Au Pairs whose agency belongs to the BAPAA Association.
To be on time, Amelie and I took the Tube at 10.20am. At Finchley Central Station Marieke then joined us. Around 10.50am we arrived at Great Portland Street Station and had to walk to the location.

After we showed our tickets we entered the venue and had to put on some name tags. The room was divided by balloons in the different areas of London and we had to gather around the balloon representing our area. When everyone had arrived Tuuli, the head of my agency, welcomed everyone and officially started the event. Our first task was to get to know new people from our area and exchange numbers or Facebook profiles. We were also asked to take Selfies for yet another challenge. After the time run up on this task we had to move around in the room and find even more people to talk to.
The beginning part was really good, because you actually got to know people from your area. Of course it’s nice to get to know people from different places, too. But in reality you won’t really keep in contact or at least won’t meet each other again.
The trick with the second task was that even though you looked at the balloon and thought okay that’s reasonable close to where I live, the people there also had moved and suddenly you were talking to someone from the complete opposite of London from where you live.

The only good thing was I got to know a girl who already changed her family and we talked about her problems and what it was like, so she actually encouraged me to talk to the agency and see if I can change.
After this second task there was a small snack break where they dished Pizza and everyone could take a slice. I took the chance and asked Chloe from Smartaupairs, if we can have a chat and then talked to her about the problems with my family I was facing and told her that the Au Pair before me had some similar problems. When we came to talk about changing the family I asked her how it would work and she kindly explained the whole ordeal to me. But she also pointed out that I have to keep in mind that changing always has the risk that you may not find a new family within the two weeks notice.
Still this conversation helped me a lot, because I finally knew what I would have to expect and therefore could try to decide what to do now.

Shortly after the nice conversation the program went on and they opened the photo booth, where we could take group pictures with fun props. In the end we played people bingo. We all had a bingo plan on our program and then had to find another person in the room who for example has coloured hair, has blue eyes, is in London for over a month already and other things. Obviously you’re not allowed to list someone more than once.

After the nice game of bingo I got to know a guy named Jonas and his good friend Lisa. Jonas and I were chatting with each other when a group of girls asked us to photobomb their picture they were taking at the still open photo booth.

Soon the whole party was finished and we all went out to take picture in front of the venue and then were free to go. Since Jonas, Lisa and I all wanted to go in the same direction, we decided to take a bus together to Westminster Abbey.
I really like them, especially because they’re as crazy as I can be at times and even though we just knew each other for a few minutes, it felt like we know each other at least for a year already.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to see each other again for now, but we still write with each other now and then and both always asked how my search was going and Lisa even tried to bring me in contact with a potentially family.

I enjoyed both the meetup very much and I found new friends there too. Especially the big welcome party was really nice, because you not only get to know Au Pairs from your own agency, but from all the agencies who belong to the BAPAA Association. It’s also nice to get to know people from your agency to finally put a face to a name.
And even if you won’t find a lot of friends there, it always is a lot of fun and you can just enjoy the time together with all the other Au Pairs.

Thanks to Amelie and Marieke we still found other Au Pairs who joined our group permanently and belong now to my closest friends here.

Thanks to Smartaupairs for organising all the “small” Au Pair meetings and to the BAPAA Association for organising such a lovely welcome party for all the Au Pairs in England.

Vicky! Xx

3rd December: Life is better with Friends :)

Day three and the third post for my own little advent calendar.
Today’s post is for all those, who have been spending so much time with me here. Who would go sightseeing with me or just shopping. Who would spend their free time with me, so we would have company. In one word: my Friends!

The most important thing as an Au Pair is to make friends quite fast, otherwise you’ll be stuck alone and you won’t ever see someone else as your family. Even if you have the best family an Au Pair can wish for, we all need a bit of space and need to spend our free time with other people.

I had to learn this the hard way, since I didn’t make a lot of friends during my first few weeks, I soon felt really lonely and got more and more frustrated. Especially when the first problems with my ex family started.
I was so happy that I then found Maja. Even though we haven’t seen each other since the 4th September, we still keep in contact and she offered me a place to stay for one night when I had to move out, too. I really miss her and now that I’m settled in we have to arrange to see each other again. But apart from not seeing each other, we still kept in contact. We’re not writing on a daily basis, but we would talk on the phone sometimes and when we write again, it’s just like we are continuing a conversation from the previous day.

But she’s not my only friend. When I came back from Ireland I got to know Amelie, because our families are friends with each other. She is the one I spent the most time with and she also was a really big help during my re-matching time. I owe her big time for keeping more than half of my stuff in her room and putting up with her host mum who was getting more annoyed by it day by day.
But not only for keeping my stuff, also for being there for me and listening and giving me advice whenever it was needed. And mostly for putting up with me, I know I can be a pain in the a** sometimes… ;D

On the 4th September Maja came to visit me and Amelie in North Finchley. After we showed her our not so impressing High Street, we took the bus 134 to Muswell Hill and arrived there after a 30 minutes drive. In Muswell Hill we were supposed to meet a girl named Jana, who I’ve got to know over Facebook even before I came to London. We tried to meet for quite while and never got the time to, so finally we could meet.
While I brought Amelie and Maja, she brought two girls who live next door to her. There was another girl who no one of us knew before, since she just arrived two days ago. While everyone else was from Germany, she was from Sweden. The last in the group was the only girl who’s not an Au Pair and lives in a different part of London.
After we all met at 3pm, we went to a café and just sat together, talking and trying to get to know each other. At 5pm we then decided that we should move again and went first to a nice second-hand shop and then to a pub called O’Neill’s, which belongs to an irish pub chain.
Around 5.45pm Amelie and I decided to head home. Maja had already left and the others wanted to stay a bit longer.
Even though all the girls are really nice, I just kept a bit of contact with Jana, which really is a shame, because they were all really nice!

After this nice meeting Amelie and I tried to make more friends and even went to an Au Pair meet up on Oxford Street. There is only the problem that all the other Au Pairs were from all over London and it can be quite hard to keep in contact with people who are not living close to you.

So we tried using an App called “Excuses to meet”, where you would give excuses why you should meet and then the app will show you people with the same excuses around you. This app has a big Au Pair community and is even promoted by our agency.
On Thursday, 22nd September, I made arrangements to meet another Au Pair in Finchley Central at 11.30am. I knew that two other Au Pairs are joining us, but it was a nice surprise to see Amelie there. Marieke, a dutch Au Pair, organised the whole thing and Anna, a polish Au Pair, was the fourth Au Pair joining us. We went to Costa and just chatted the time away. At 2pm Amelie and I then decided it’s time walk back home.
This meeting went a lot better and we actually stayed in contact. Sadly we haven’t seen Anna much after, because most of our get together are in Finchley or North Finchley and it’s too much of a hassle for her to get there.

On the 25th September we had a big welcome party for the Au Pairs in London. We even made more friends there and Amelie and Marieke made plans with them for after the event, while I already had other plans.
So I didn’t knew the girls when they invited me to come with them to the British Museum on the 1st October. Originally I didn’t want to go out that day, because I had to babysit from 5pm onward, but they convinced me and so I met them at Woodside Park Station the same day.
Amelie, Farina, Kathi and I took the tube from there and at Finchley Central Station Marieke joined us. While Farina lives closer to a different tube station, Kathi lived more or less a 5 minute walk away from my family.
When we arrived at Tottenham Court Road we walked to the Museum and got in quite fast. But inside were so many people, that we went around the Museum for a bit, but soon gave up and left in order to find a place to eat something. After a short snack, Amelie and I went back to the tube station and went back home. Because it was already 4.20pm when we went on the tube, I really had to hurry up to walk home from the station and arrived just 2 minutes too late.

The next day we made plans to see each other again. Since the other girls went to a party the night before and came home quite late we arranged to see each other at 2.30pm in front of the Sainsbury on the High Road. Sadly Farina stayed home, but we were joined by Lenka instead. After we bought a few things for a picnic, we went to Friary Park, close to my family’s house.
That day was the day I planned to tell my host family the two weeks notice and therefore I was quite nervous. So I enjoyed the picnic even more because it was a good distraction from what was to come later that day.
At 5.30pm we decided to get a move on and went back home. Amelie walked with me until we arrived at my house and had to say goodbye. By then I was a nervous wreck and I’m still very grateful for her trying to calm me down and to encourage me.
Even though it was a good idea, it didn’t help at all. But at one point I had to put an end to my perfect task of procrastination and finally talk to the family.
This meeting with my friends at the park helped me a lot to ease my mind that day and also reminded me that no matter what happens with the family, I have a bunch of good friends behind me who would always try their best to help me the best they can.

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Let’s have a picnic!

After I told the family I would leave, I tried to spent as much time as possible outside the house on the weekends. On the 8th October we then made plans to go to Brent Cross, a big shopping center in the North of London. We just asked in our, now very big, Whatsapp Group of Au Pairs around our area, who wants to join us.
In the end it was just Amelie, Kathi and I who took the bus at 1pm at Tally Ho Corner and went on our way there. Because of problems with an oyster card it took us a bit longer then usually and we finally arrived at 2.15pm. After we strolled around for a bit, we met with another Au Pair from the group we haven’t met yet; Ellinor.
We just went through all the shops we wanted to see and finally I was able to visit a Hollister shop and even bought my first piece of Hollister there.
Because I once again had to babysit, we went home at 4.30pm. But not without a small lunch snack from the Food Court of the Center. For the way home we used the tube, which was way easier and cost the same.

Even though I made a lot more friends during my time here, Amelie, Marieke, Farina and Kathi are the ones I’ve spent most of my time with. But not only did they spent time with me, they also helped me a lot during my rematch time. Kathi lend me her hand luggage suitcase so I could leave it with my things at Amelie’s place and Farina always told me about families who are looking for an Au Pair.

You always need friends in your life, but even more so when you’re away from all your other friends and your family. The question is just how you can see who is your friend and who is just an acquaintance. For me it was clear when I had to change and they all tried to help me. I see myself quite lucky that I’ve found friends like these here! Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in contact, now that I’m living on the other side of central London.

Thank you guys! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Vicky! Xx

 

Radio Silent – Rematch

Ok, I think it’s finally time to write a new post. I’m sorry that I went completely radio silent, but a lot has happened the last few weeks…
The reason for that is that I left my host family to find a new one.
As you may remember I sometimes wrote about me not connecting with the boys properly. That wasn’t so much of a problem, but I sometimes felt like they don’t even want me there.

Being an Au Pair can be quite a challenge. You live with people together who are supposed to be your new family, but in the same time you have to work for them and get paid by them.
Some Au Pairs get really lucky and find a new family in their host family and feel like it’s their new home, but others – like me – are just hosted so it’s easier for them to work for the family. At least that’s what it felt like for me.
But it wasn’t only that I didn’t find a connection with the boys, I also had the feeling that the mother had expectations that I would never be able to fulfill and I didn’t know of before, or I may have never had chosen this family.

I had some ‘nice’ conversations with my host mum from time to time where she would ask me why I’m not connecting with the boys. During this talks I always had the feeling she made it out to be my fault only, while I had the impressions that the boys just don’t want to do things with me and therefore I could try as much as I want.
Often I also had to put up with a 11-year-old boy scolding me for things I haven’t done. Or he would tell me that what I’ve said is wrong. I know I came here to improve my english, but the things he corrected weren’t even wrong but rather something he didn’t like personally.

At one point it just all was enough. I’ve been there two months and at the beginning everything was looking fine, but soon the first problems arose. Back then I thought it’s not that bad and you can go through with it a whole year. However, it didn’t stopped with these few things but more came along. Things started to pile up and then I started thinking if I really want to put up with all this for another 10 months.

The answer was: NO!

So I had to think about what to do… I was pretty sure that no matter what I’m trying to tell the mother, nothing would change. The only option that sounded as if it would work, was changing the family. But I was so happy when I found a family and I also didn’t want to let the one family down, so I didn’t just want to make this life-changing decision without thinking about it thoroughly.

Because I also had a big Au Pair meet-up coming up and knew some people from my agency would be there, I decided to talk to them in person. Tell them the problems I’m facing, how I feel with all of this and then ask them what I can do in this situation.
As I hoped the talk went well and they told me that I would have to tell the family that I want to leave and then the two weeks notice would start and they would start looking for a new family for me.
But they also told me that they can understand my trouble and my wish to change.

A big help in all of this was not only my family, but also the previous Au Pair of my host family. After a long talk on the phone we realised that we had all the same problems.
Not only the same problems, but also the same conversations with my host mum.
Sadly she was too afraid that she wouldn’t find a new family in the two weeks notice and therefore she stayed with the family.

On Sunday, 2nd October I then finally told my host mum my decision. Even though she said she couldn’t understand why, she would just have to accept the fact, since I’m grown up and old enough to make my own decisions and also because she can see that I already made up my mind.
We agreed that I won’t tell the boys anything and that we’ll talk to the agency the next day to get everything started.
Th next day I was asked if it would be ok for me to work two more days after the two weeks notice and then would leave either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

The agency started to look for new families for me straight away, but sadly there weren’t that many. Even though I had quite a lot Skype calls with families and also met with two personally, I still hadn’t found a new family.
After week 1 of my two weeks my german agency sent my profile to all their other english partners and I signed up on aupairworld.com, but that also didn’t helped to find something new.

On Wednesday, 19th October I then had to leave the family. Sadly I haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to the boys.
After my host mum dropped me off at the tube station I took the tube to Finchley Central where I went to my language school to meet a friend from my class who offered me a bed for one night.
The next day I went to my ex host family’s cleaner. She also offered me a place to stay. And even though I could have stayed with her for longer, I didn’t want to bother her too much. But I really enjoyed being with her, especially because she has two really sweet children!
On Saturday morning I then took a MegaBus+ to Scunthorpe to stay with friends of my family for a while.

Originally I never planned to stay in Lincolnshire that long, but in the end I stayed there for nearly a month.
It took me all this time to find a new family and even though I found my new host family at the beginning of November I had to stay there a bit longer since I can’t start there until the end of November.
After being away from London for nearly a month I felt the need to finally go back to London.

So on Monday, 14th November, I packed my bags and went on my way back to London.
After looking into different options, I found a family who was happy to host me until I can move to my new family.
They have a 1-year-old girl they asked me to help look after. When I arrived at St.Pancras National Train Station I changed to King’s Cross and took the Piccadilly line to Oakwood where the family collected me.

On Monday evening they just introduced me to most of the things I had to know and let me settle in. I then had to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday morning the family left to visit friends and family in Poland. Luckily I was allowed to stay alone at their house and therefore had enough time for myself. On some days I just stayed home and on other days I went to central London.
Tuesday night they came back from Poland and I was back to work on Wednesday. After just three days of work another week was over and I off for the weekend again.
Yesterday was then my last day of work with this family and after I’ve packed all my things I left the family this morning and travelled to my new family.

Finally, after such a long time, I can start with my new family! Fingers crossed that everything will work out this time around and I will have a good time!

You may wonder what this family is like… I can just share some facts with you as I don’t know the family that well yet.
They are a dutch family with three boys from the age of 3, 6 and 8. They live in Fulham, a nice area quite close to central London (Zone 2).
The family seems really lovely from the chats we had and also from getting to know them and finally meeting them on my first day.
But also the things the previous Au Pair had to say about them, helped to choose this family. She told me that she haven’t had any problems with them and they accepted her as a new family member and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.
It gives me hope and confidence that this time everything will be different!

But it already feels different to my first family – in a completely positive way!
When I met the second oldest, he first introduced himself in a proper way and not only a minute later he hugged me and told me that I’m nice. And that wasn’t the last time that happened.

With all this being said I want to say goodbye for now, but a lot more is to come!
Another chapter begins and hopefully you all want to come along!

Sorry again for keeping you waiting for so long and thank you to all the people who checked on me because I haven’t posted for so long! You’re the best!!

And also a very big thank you for all the people who helped me out, either by taking me in or just storing a big part of my belongings! THANK YOU!

See you again soon!

Vicky Xx

Where has the time gone…?

Hey guys, I’m finally back with a normal Blog post. The last five Blog posts were all about my time in Ireland. But since we’ve been to Ireland from the 20th to 27th of August, I’ve been back here in London for three weeks now and it’s been nearly two month since I started my year. I can tell you, time flies!

But first of all I want to try to catch up with all that has happened the last few weeks.

You already know that we came back on Saturday, 27th August. On Sunday, 28th August I had my usual day off and since I’ve missed out on a whole week here in London I made plans to meet Maja again, the one Au Pair I went to see in Brixton the Thursday before we left for Ireland.

At 2.45pm I took the Tube to Warren Street, where I then met Maja. Together we walked down Tottenham Court Road until we came upon Oxford Street. We then just strolled around Oxford Street and went in a few shops, but never actually bought something. Until we came across a new pop up store, where we were able to buy clothes of good quality to a bargain price.

Later that day we sat down in a small Caffé Nero and started to plan the next day. At 6.45pm we said goodbye for the day, knowing that we’re going to see each other again the following day, and went home.

Since Monday, 29th August was a bank holiday here in England, I had another day off. At 11am I went to catch the tube, because Maja and I wanted to visit the Notting Hill Carnival.
At my tube station I first met Amelie. She is an Au Pair, too and lives on the other side of the Tube station, thus in the same part of London. Since our host families know each other, our host moms made us come in contact. Maja and I asked her to accompany us, so she would get to know some Au Pairs here.

At 11.30am Amelie and I left Woodside Park and drove to Euston, where we met Maja and took the tube to Notting Hill Gate. When we left the Tube station we were already in the middle of the Carnival, but decided to go further into Notting Hill. After we bought us each a flower crown we found ourselves a spot on the sidewalk of Westbourne Grove, where we watched two parts of the Notting Hill Carnival Parade.
The Parade reminds of the original Carnival in Rio. There is lots of music, colourful and fancy dresses and everyone is dancing.

After we saw the short part of the Parade we went to get something to eat and then went on. The food at the Carnival is really good. There are lots of booths which offer grilled corn cobs and lots of different grilled meats. Other booths offer a big variety of cocktails, fruit punches and other drinks.
Even though the alcohol consumption reminded me of a german carnival, we stayed completely sober.

We walked down the complete Portobello Road and went back to where we bought our lunch earlier that day. After we were stuck in the big crowds more than one time we decided to go back to the Tube station via a side street.

The Notting Hill Carnival is not that bad, there is lots of music and the people there are all in such a good mood. But the only thing is that there are just too many people. If anything would happen, there would be no chance for the police to keep control of the situation.
After I went there I have to say that it’s nice to go there to have seen it once, but I wouldn’t go there a second time.

The next few days were really nice. Since N. has been off devices, we actually had the chance to bond. Not only could I show him how to do Origami, but he also started drawing a lot and we baked some Rocky Roads together.

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N. and my Rocky Road masterpieces!

On Wednesday I received the first letter of my pen pal from Trier. It was really nice to read those few lines from home. Because I had some free hours that day I decided to answer her directly and send a birthday postcard to my mum’s best friend (Happy belated Birthday! 🎉).

Since Amelie’s Au pair girl and N. had been in the same class up until this year, because S. changed the school, we organised a playdate for Friday. We met at 11am and went to the park near our home, where the kids played a bit tennis. When we were back at the house at 12.30pm, Amelie and I started to prepare lunch: Pancakes, or rather Crêpes, while S. and N. tried to do some Origami.
After Lunch Amelie and S. went back home and N. and I drew a bit for the rest of the day.

Normally I’m off work on the weekends, but my host parents asked me to babysit on saturday night, so I had only half the day off. Therefore I just spent some time with Amelie on the High Road of North Finchley and we went down to Finchley Central.
On our way to Finchley Central we visited the Victoria Park, which is a really nice park.
When I was back home the boys and I had a nice self made Pizza for dinner.

On Sunday Maja came to North Finchley to see where Amelie and I live. After we showed her our rather small High Road, we took the bus and drove to Muswell Hill. We arranged to meet other Au Pairs here, since Muswell Hill is in the middle between North Finchley and Crouch End, where the other girls live.
It all started with a small group, but in the end we were eight girls. Because of this rather large group we decided to just sit down in a Café and talk a bit to get to know each other. Even though we were seven german girls we had to speak english so the one swedish girl was able to understand us.
At 5.30pm Amelie and I went back home and left the other girls to mingle for a bit longer.

The next week started with a rather relaxed monday, because both boys could stay at home the whole day. But on Tuesday the chaos began. N. had to be at Rugby practice for 9.45am till 3pm, while S. was free until he had to go to a school event at 4pm.
Wednesday got even more confusing, not for N. but for S. It started with a birthday party at 11am, from there he went to school for training and I had collect him there at 5pm and bring him directly to his tennis practice. N.’s plan for the day was quite easy since he had Rugby from 9.45am to 3pm again. But mixing them both together was very interesting and gave me a preview on how it’s going to be as soon as the boys start school again.

With Thursday the day has finally arrived. The boys are back to school. To make it easier for me, my host mother stayed home from work the first two mornings to show me everything.

I have to be downstairs around 6.45-6.50am every morning to prepare breakfast. At 7.40am we would leave the house and I drop off the boys at their now different schools, because S. starts senior school this year. I then drive back home and have free time until I have collect the boys again. Although I should do my part of the house work during these few hours so I can concentrate on the boys when they’re back from school.

Not only  did the boys had their first school day on Thursday but I had to mind them in the evening, too. The good thing is that they’re quite old already so I just have to sent them to bed and watch that they turn off their lights and that’s it. The only downside is that they are allowed to stay up later now, so I get to bed later, too.

In return for working late on Thursday night I got more free time on friday and the complete afternoon and evening off. I just had to bring S. to school, since N. had to be there an hour earlier. When I came back I ironed quickly and were off till 3.30pm when I had to collect N. and his friend. But again my host mum drove to show me a few things around the school. Back at home I was free and could do what I want.

On Saturday I met Amelie again and after she spent a bit of time at my home we catched a bus to Muswell Hill again. Since we didn’t really had the time to explore the shops there last Sunday we wanted to come back. I showed her my two favourite shops there: Art for Art’s Sake and Oliver Bonas. We then went to a Oxfam Bookstore, where we were able to buy some really good books for a few pounds only. After a small lunch break we took another bus to drive to High Barnet.

Normally High Barnet is just two more stops with the Northern Line from our Tube Station, but the Northern Line didn’t work between High Barnet and Archway on Saturday and Sunday.
In High Barnet we went along the High Road and visited a lot of Secondhand shops. They are really great to get books for less money. The last shop we went into was a sweets store which had a big range of baking supplies.

At 6.20pm I took the bus back home, while Amelie met another Au Pair. I would have liked to stay with them, but at 7pm that night the Last Night of the Proms started at the Royal Albert Hall and I wanted to watch the live TV coverage. With 15 minutes to show begin I was even able to cook a pizza for the perfect TV night. The live TV broadcast in Germany only covered the second part of the Proms. But I then called my mum and we commented the Proms watching it from two different countries.

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Watching the Last Night of the Proms

On Sunday, 11th September, we had a small Au Pair meet up from the smartaupairs agency. It started at 11.30am in the Starbucks on Oxford Street. At 11.20am we were already 29 people and there were more and more coming. In the end we must have been over 40 people and we blocked nearly the whole second floor. After everyone introduced himself we got together into smaller groups where we tried to get to know each other a bit better. My group consisted of four german girls (me included) and one from Netherlands and Sweden each. We went down Oxford Street to Bond Station from there we separated and everyone went their own way, but before we exchanged numbers so we could stay in contact and meet again.

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I feel quite happy that I got to meet those really nice girls!

I went back to Starbucks, because Amelie was still there with a group of german girls. We stayed there for a bit more and talked about the places we come from in Germany and it turned out that one of the girls just lives in the neighbour city of Trier. At 3pm we went on Oxford Street and visited several stores. Afterwards we went to McDonald’s for a small dinner and at 7.45pm I was back home.
It was really nice to meet so many Au Pairs and get the chance to exchange numbers to stay in contact. Hopefully we can see each other again.

I’ll tell you about the following week in my next post.
Thank you for reading and following my blog so far.

See you next time

Vicky xx