AU PAIR EXPERIENCE
Au Pair’s name: Darunee Thongmark
Age: 33 years old
Host country: Denmark
Number/Age/Sex of children: 2 boys age 9 and 11 and 1 girl age 13
Duration/year: 1 year
How did you know the au pair program?
The very first time I heard about Au Pair program is from a friend who was Au pairing in the U.S. By then I didn’t pay much attention to what it was as an undergraduate, I was unqualified to apply for the program. However, afterwards, I accidentally found a book written about Au Pair program by Tanya and this was the book that inspired me to become an Au Pair. However, this time my target destination shifted from the U.S to Europe because European countries didn’t require degree for application along with that by the year 2005, I visited a friend of mine in Aalborg, Denmark. My friend’s parents introduced me to a Danish family which, by that time, was looking for an Au pair. The conversation between us was flowing. We felt sudden connection and eventually, the family decided to hire me. I was truly happy it’s finally happened.
What inspired you to participate in this cultural exchange program?
Well, it’s a desire to experience life abroad, a thirst for new adventures and the love for travels. Considerably, Au Pair was, in fact, the only opportunity for me to fulfill my dreams since I was experiencing the shortage of financial support from my family. Au pair program doesn’t cost a lot. In my point of view, it is undeniably the best type of cultural exchange programs as it equalizes opportunity for young people from all social classes.
How did you prepare yourself to become an Au pair?
Not much as I had visited Denmark, before actually moved there as an Au Pair so I kinda knew what to expect, besides, I and my host family were very clear on the matters of work condition and responsibility.
As I’ve mentioned above, I have met the Danish family by chance. We like each other and I was hired.
Tell us a bit about your host family
They were lovely. My host dad was the owner of a farm and worked at a tractor company. My host mom was high positioned; a well-known local politician. My host mom worked a lot and found no time to look after her children and the household chores. This applied to my host dad too. The house location was like 30 minutes by bus from Aalborg. It was a huge farm house with massive lawn and due to this I didn’t get to meet neighbor so often, but that was totally fine with me. The family had helped me with everything not only with Danish language but also provided me with leisure activities such as joining in a volleyball team, attending a dance class. They even financed me with transportation cost and sometimes a travel cost for my holidays, most importantly, they treated me as equally as other family members. We did everything together and got along just great!
I was truly fortunate to be a part of this family, though my main responsibility was to take care of the household as children were grown up, I could very well performed my duties and never felt sorry because I was satisfied with work condition and agreement we made at the very beginning.
What are your duties or responsibilities?
Preparing breakfast is the first thing I usually did in the morning, and then I went to a language school which my host dad always drove me there. My lesson was 4 days a week, 4 hours/day. Housekeeping started in the afternoon and it took approximately 3-4 hours, I then continued preparing dinner for the family at around 5 o’clock. I learned to cook many different dishes from my host mom. It was very enjoyable and the way you learn to be creative. Apart from that I did shopping for the family too and it was pretty convenient because I could just pick up stuff and the bill was paid off later by my host family.
Did you get an opportunity to travel or studying language?
Absolutely, I took Danish class and traveled to Norway twice
According to your opinion, what was the most important thing you have learnt from Au paring?
Do not focus too much on money issue. In fact, what you are actually obtaining from the program is priceless, like new experiences, new friendship, and opportunity for education and to see the world. These are way more valuable than money I think. In addition, please keep in mind that to find a nice host family also depends on luck.
What is the key qualification Au pair should have?
Keep being positive. True, my main duty is performing housework but that was incomparable with what I got in return; I learned so much about Danish culture, I visited country like Norway and some other towns in Denmark. I studied the language (Danish), gained countless of life experience and my perspective towards the world had completely changed in a good way since then. Au pair program turned me into a patient, mature and responsible person. That’s how it affected me.
Would you recommend Au pair program to those who are interested?
Definitely, it’s a one-in-a-life-time experience and you will get so much out of the program. Just go for it!
Wish you all luck,