Six Reasons Why Au Pairing Sucks!
(Speak according to personal experiences)
1. Love Hurts
Being a babysitter or a caretaker or whatever you call it, falling in love inevitable. Regardless of ages/gender and kinds of love or relationship. Once man gets involved with another one physically, emotional bond is formed. Just like a relationship between a babysitter and her host family’s children. Despite naughtiness or difficult times, we can’t help falling in love with them and often think they are our own children. Babysitting is basically parenting, the only difference is that we don’t give birth to the child we look after. So let me warn you something young ladies & boys, before you go for it, you should know that sure, Au pairing offers an refreshing and joyous experience, but there is a hurtful part too. Saying goodbye is already worst, but it is even worse if the bond between you and the kids lasts afterwards. There won’t be the day you stop loving and thinking of them.
2. Identity Loss
After a couple years or so of living abroad, finally it’s time to return home and this is when you become a stranger yourself; you think and act differently from others in your home country. This evidence that you lived abroad long enough to adopt culture of a host country (countries), western mindset, lifestyle and certain behaviors. Sure, it’s a good sign since it means you integrate well, but I promise you it is irritating as well to re-adjust yourself to your native culture. I am a good example for this case, after spending over a few years in three different countries, I became more and more like a westerner. It began from my attitude to behavior. For instance, when talking to Thais, many said I was westernized, similarly to, when talking to foreigners, very few said I was Thai. These circumstances probably demonstrates that the more one gets used to a foreign culture, the bigger chance he/she will lose his/her native identity. So if someone asks me whether I consider myself as Thai or western? I will say, neither. I feel pretty much like a mixed kid who was born and grew up in two different cultures (one of Thai and one of the west) So far, I am still adapting to Thai culture; trying not to be too straightforward like the Dutch, not to take punctuality and discipline so seriously like Danes and not to worship personal space like Swedes.
3. Language Problem
Seriously, using different languages at once leads to confusion. I have language problem. None of languages I speak is considered as good (enough) not even Thai (my native language) How this happened? Firstly, I don’t speak much of Thai. I use mostly English in everyday life. I talk in a local language with my family, but to read or write it’s always English. Sure, this beneficial in terms of practicing English but to live and do business in Thailand, it’s essential that I am able to communicate effectively in Thai esp. formal language, very important. 3rd language made my life messier. Sure, I love to learn new languages as it’s fun and challenging, yet, 3rd language will ruin your 2nd language fluency. Trust me if you wish to improve your 3rd language, you must somehow drop your 2nd language, at least, spend less time with it and this when the fluency comes to end. Nowadays I’m still struggling with spelling, forming sentences and often have a hard time expressing my thoughts in Thai, my English is so so, my Swedish is poor. So guys, be prepared. If you wish to master the 3rd language during Au Pair stay, I suggest you completely cut off English.
4. Unbalanced earning
If you have ever been an Au Pair at least once in a lifetime this issue is undeniable to point out. As Au Pair considered as a cultural exchange program not a full-time employee, salary rate is normally low (in fact, extremely low comparing to local standard wages and high cost of living in Europe) the average wages for au pairs in most countries begins from 9.000-27.000 BTH per month. The rate depends on country. If you are not thoughtful or prepared to handle with this unbalance, you might not make saving at all. Unlike Thailand, taxes in Europe are high, as a result, people here tend to follow economic lifestyle ex: they cook and eat at home, they pack their own lunch, snack and drinks, they prefer to buy cheap in supermarket to bring for a picnic with friends. When it comes to parties, many buy alcohol from a shop, drink it at home beforehand then head to a nightclub or better yet arrange a private party at home where there is no entrance fee. Dining at a restaurant is usually kept for special occasions or regarded as luxury lifestyle. Shopping for clothes is popularly done at H&M, Swedish outfit Brand with branches lying every corner in the world because prices they offer are thought to be reasonable with not-bad quality of sold products (I’m speaking according to European price standard)
5. Travel too many places can be boring
This happens when a visa allows you to travel for at least 26 countries; yes I’m talking about Schengen visa. As an Au pair, you’re granted one. A Freedom to travel freely urges your desire to explore places and tastes charms of visited countries. Sound fabulous, huh? Still I’ve got a warning; try not to make a continuous trip that you are going to see more than 5 countries at once. Why? Well, your trip will become dull and less exotic. Roaming cities which share similar lifestyle, cultures, architectural icons or landmarks, taste in food, or landscape makes your trip less exciting since you won’t spot cultural uniqueness of these places. Of course, every single city has its own charm and specific tourist attractions, still, the distinction isn’t crystal clear. For example; if you start off in Berlin, try to skip Vienna. If you are visiting Copenhagen, your next destination shouldn’t be Oslo. If you are wandering street of Prague, perhaps keep Budapest for next trip. All in all, I am not suggesting you should not visit country or cities that situated next/close to each other. Every single city in Europe is worth visiting, my advice is just to help you arrange a more exciting and enjoyable trip, not the one which full of boredom.
6. Making decision to leave or stay can be hard
Sure, returning home can be delightful, if for some reason you dislike your host country, but if you don’t then it’ll be hard. Just like the quote I’ve ever read “Home is where your heart belongs to” if you happen to become fond of the host country or have a happy stay, it’s uneasy to say good bye. Though you realize how nice it would be to live in your comfort zone close to family and friends, to have all great opportunities line up for you, to have freedom for career choices etc., if you prefer challenges, going home may not sound so fun and trust me that burning desire to seek for new adventures will keep killing you within. It probably urges you to make irrational decision in life which your family disagrees with. It may bring you back again to where you feel like home eventually.
By Owner of Au Pair Alternative