5 Ways for Au Pairs to Find Other Au Pairs

by cv harquail on September 9, 2015

It’s the season to Welcome New Au Pairs!

6586274421_981b42df67_mA time for orienting, driving lessons, checklist making, getting lost, and — sometimes for new Au Pairs — feeling lonely.

When a new Au Pair arrives, it’s critical that s/he make a few Au Pair friends right away.

Only another Au Pair can understand the unique situation of a new Au Pair. Having someone who understands things from the unique Au Pair perspective can help a new Au Pair untangle all the commotion of her/ his first few weeks.

Usually, Area Representatives (ARs) and Local Counselors (LCs) help a new Au Pair connect with other Au Pairs in their cluster.

Even if there’s not a meeting scheduled immediately, LCs and ARs give the new Au Pair contact info for the other cluster members, suggest a few s/he should call, and even nudge the more seasoned Au Pairs to reach out and introduce themselves to the newbies.  All of this effort makes a BIG difference.

But, if you’re an Au Pair in a one-person cluster, or the only Au Pair from your part of the world, or a new Au Pair in a cluster where everyone already has a full set of friends, it might be hard to make Au Pair friends through the Cluster alone.

Then what? A personal ad on Craigslist or the local paper’s website?   I wouldn’t recommend this.

Instead, try these suggestions:

1. Look for other ‘Au Pair-like people’ at the school bus stop, at drop off, at pick up, on the sidelines of a soccer game, and on the playground.

“Au Pair-like people” are generally too old to be students, too young to be parents, and dressed in somewhat hipper/ more international styles than your average American college kid.  I just met a new Au Pair at the bus stop this morning– first day of school for the kids, first week on her own for the Au Pair. Yikes!

2. Wear an Au Pair t-shirt or carry your Au Pair tote bag.   

These items telegraph “I’m on an Adventure! Come talk with me!”

3.  Hang out at Starbucks and speak loudly (to yourself, on the phone, whatever) in your home language.logo-391x886

Laugh a little and seem approachable. Ask the Baristas when the Au Pairs usually hang out there. Because they do. Every Au Pair group has a Starbucks they hang out in.

4.  Download the AuPairsAround app to help connect with other Au Pairs in your area, from all Agencies.  

The app was developed by an Au Pair Agency in the Netherlands, TripleC Au Pairs, but it has users from all over the world.

5. Au Pairs– what do you recommend?  

 

Here’s the email with the original question:
We have hosted 7 au pairs, but have just moved to a new area with our wonderful current Au Pair. Our community counselor is new and ours is her only au pair for the next month. Our Counselor has contacted other community counselors from another agency to get our AP in touch with other au pairs — to no avail.
She met one au pair who said there are a lot of au pairs in the area through Cultural Care so we are hoping our counselor can perhaps figure out how to get in touch with their counselor. But I was wondering if you know of any online forums for au pairs to meet others in their area. I would love for her to start making friends here!

 

 

{ 19 comments }

Returning HM September 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

There is an enormous Facebook page for au pairs in our area. Doing a search on Facebook with “au pair” and the name of our town will find it – and I know lots of other towns and areas have the same. Another option on FB is just the general AP groups – and from there, asking if anyone lives in her area. All of our APs get connected with others over FB before they even arrived – so they came with “friends” already.

This AP could also consider joining a gym, English language group, or soccer/badminton/running team or group. Various APs of ours have participated in these activities and met lots of people, APs and other folks in the AP demographic.

Finally, the HM could call CCAP and ask for the name of the LCC in her area and call the LCC directly to see if she would invite the AP to a casual gathering. Our APIA LC where we used to live used to invite the CCAP APs to her meetings because the APIA meetings were better. Now, where we live, the APIA APs go to the CCAP meetings because they are better. :-)

American Host Mom in Europe September 10, 2015 at 4:45 am

In my country, it is a visa requirement that au pairs are enrolled in a local language course, even before they arrive (proof of enrollment is necessary for granting of the visa). So au pairs often meet other APs (or other newly settled foreigners) fairly quickly. Even if your country doesn’t require this, it can be a nice way to meet other new local settlers.

I actually encourage my APs to look for friends who are NOT APs. The few whose friends are all APs find that as the school year ends and the other APs leave… all their friends leave at once, which is a bummer (my APs start in August). Most of my APs have been friends with other international settlers here, or locals. Via Facebook or the internet, one can often find groups like “Canadians abroad” or “American Women’s Club” or “British Club” or similar groups for other nationalities. Gives them a sense of home locally, which is nice for anyone.

Anon Again September 10, 2015 at 5:22 am

I really wish my brand new AP used the “normal” networking sites.. instead
AP was on Tinder (and had secured a “date”) within 36hrs of arriving….

Watch this page I may be back looking for help/advice!

FirstTimeHM September 10, 2015 at 6:21 am

There are a few girls in the neighbourhood that sometimes babysit for us, they usually meet the new au pair in her first week and take her out to the movies or their favorite hangouts. That works really well here.

NBHostMom September 10, 2015 at 7:43 am

We tend to look for sporty au pairs, before their arrival, I always secure them a place on a rec team in their related sport…. It is a great way for them to make lots of friends fast. We’ve had soccer players, tennis players and one handball player (that was a bit of a challenge!). For one au pair who didn’t click with a group of friends in the first month, we pushed her to start using the site meetup to find a interest group, there she found a bunch of young photographers who organized regular meetings to photograph wildlife and she joined an ultimate frisbee team.

The one thing we’ve found is the au pairs we’ve hosted who do not only hang out with other au pairs from their home country have had their English improve the fastest and, in the long run, have had a wider circle of friends.

spanishaupair September 10, 2015 at 8:02 am

As an aupair i mainly used facebook. There are tons of facebook groups pf aupairs around the world so searching “aupairs in” or something like that and the area you live in or mearest main city/town and you will see them.

Also some language schools have aupair clubs or activities for theis students so if they enroll in one is also a good option apart from your classmates.

When i wan in england i found very usefull “meet up” website it has different groups of interest in different locations of the world. You can search from the area you live in and they show all the options. I joined a group of people who wanted to learn spanissh and was a great way to improve my english and meet people from all pver the world including some local people that werent aupairs.

Mimi September 10, 2015 at 11:25 am

For us, there are also many local AP Facebook groups (usually other companies) as well as national ones for CCAP. Our very good LCC hasn’t been very forthcoming with distributing contact information prior to arrival, but in the last two years the APs have gotten better at doing it themselves prior to arrival. (I have mixed feelings about this because the local gossipy AP recounted stories from our nightmare rematch AP that weren’t remotely factual and affected our relationship from the start.) Many of our AP have kept in touch with other APs they met in training which is great for their travel time when it comes to finding a travel buddy or possibly a couch to surf.

Having APs only bond with other APs is not the best IMO. They tend to compare situations (with negative results), grouse too much about the problems they face, and often speak their native language to each other which defeats the purpose of improving their English. We encourage our APs to use Meetup and luckily we are near a college town so there are lots of same-aged folks. We also have memberships for them (as part of our family membership) for the local gym/rec center which has a lot of classes and activities that they can attend to meet people.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm

There are many reasons why having only other AP friends is not healthy, and most of us have experienced “the departing friends blues.” I just had to have a “reset your attitude” with my AP after her BFF left last week – we’re 10 weeks out, and I definitely wanted an auto-correct before the typical I’m-in-my-final-month slide.

Most of my APs have found an activity that has let them interact and develop relationships with people outside the AP circuit – whether it be a boyfriend, a sports team, a nanny circle, a particular music club, or a congregation (including Buddhist). Few have developed relationships with people in their classes – a lot of evening language classes in my area are filled with adults who are working full-time and relatively few APs.

I try not to intervene in whichever way my APs chose to form friendships. I do emphasize, as the BFF departs – or gets a serious boyfriend – months before the end of her year, that my AP might want to consider reaching out to other people so that she does not feel isolated in her last weeks.

The APs who had the richest social lives developed relationships with Americans – but they were also the most extroverted.

cv harquail September 10, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Driving down Park St. today, I saw an Au Pair wearing an APIA t-shirt. I think she read this post this morning.

Returning HM September 10, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Our AP from last year literally lived in his CCAP sweatshirt :-)

He also came home one day with an “I heart my Cultural Care Au Pair” bumper sticker, but I would not let him put it on the car….the last thing I need is someone misinterpreting the heart when they see me driving the car and then see the cute 21 year old au pair. Sigh. :-)

NoVA Twin Mom September 11, 2015 at 9:11 am

This may seem glaringly obvious – but actually GO to cluster meetings. Even if it’s the boring one about taxes (I know, wrong season, but you get my point). Your LCC isn’t there for her health :), she’s having them so you can … meet the other au pairs. And so she can give you a place to vent about your annoying host mom (ME), but really so you can meet the other au pairs!

All joking aside, I completely agree that au pairs should (ideally) have friends that aren’t au pairs too. But the easiest friends to makes, the ones that they have the most in common with, are other au pairs. And if the friends are au pairs who don’t share a “home” language, they’ll “have” to speak English, which eliminates one of the largest arguments against having all au pair friends. We actually encourage our au pairs to make close friends in their orientation group – because who else is going to have a month of vacation at just the right time to join them on their travel month?

Meg September 11, 2015 at 10:27 am

I’m a first time HM and I’d like your thoughts. My Au Pair has no Au Pair friends and no friends in the US and just doesn’t seem interested in making any. She does have boyfriend in another US city. It’s 6 months in and she seems fine and politely declines any attempts I make to “help” her meet other Au Pairs or young people. Do I just take the hint and butt out?

HRHM September 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Not everyone is a social animal. I tend to be a hermit and am really not lonely even when alone for long stretches of time. If she has a boyfriend and gets on well with the family, that may actually be all she needs in terms of social connectedness to feel happy. I would just let it be.

Au Pair in NZ September 13, 2015 at 4:21 am

I ran into this problem as an au pair. Honestly? I joined tinder. (Gasp!) I met a lot of really, really cool people (that weren’t expecting anything in return). Those people helped me get into their social circles. I’ve met several au pairs in my area but I’ve only “clicked” with a few. I’m a pretty social (hell, I was homecoming queen in high school!) and down to earth person and I still found it difficult to make friends. I do have a few au pairs friends now, but it sucks because they’re leaving in a couple of months (and I’m still here for another nine months or so!). Friends outside the au pair world don’t leave every few months. :)

HRHM September 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Au Pairs could also consider volunteering as a great way to meet like-minded people. My AP works a few hours one morning a week at the local animal shelter and has some met some great people there.

Also, church – many areas (especially cities) have parishes or churches that are populated by transplants from other countries. Here in our town we have many spanish speaking churches, Korean churches, a Polish parish, etc.

NoVA Twin Mom September 14, 2015 at 9:41 am

To expand on the church idea – many of the large churches (and the smaller ones, but particularly the larger ones) have a “college” or “young adults” group that goes to baseball games, out to dinner, and other group activities every once in a while – they don’t just sit around discussing the Bible (though it does come up). As long as your au pair isn’t actively uncomfortable with the idea of church, encourage them to look into these groups as a way to find a group of similarly-aged people interested in doing things together. And they don’t actually check to see if you’re enrolled in college, it’s just a way to describe an age group.

Didi September 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm

I actually have a blog dedicated for nannies and au pairs to connect, share advice and socialize in a safe and secure way.
I’ve seen so many cases where au pair feels homesick because she can’t connect and doesn’t feel welcomed in already formed group of au pairs in the area.
I always suggest contacting former au pair and she can share some places, or names of the girls in your neighborhood.
Meet up groups are a great way to leave the house and meet new people too. I also lead several au pair groups on social media that are secret and safe, to prevent scams, and ensure au pairs that it’s ok to feel homesick, upset, scared and there is always someone who’s been through it all and can assist and help. Something like Au Pair Mom, but for au pairs and nannies :)

Elisabeth September 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm

I just returned from the U.S. after a 2 year au pair stint, and my LC emailed the entire au pair group every month when she received the list of incoming au pairs. She would tell us their names, home countries, age, their date of arrival, and the area they would be living in. She would then let us know when the au pair had arrived with their host family, so we could make plans. This was especially helpful because even if you don’t stay friends with an au pair throughout the year, it’s nice to offer to somebody, or have a friend for a few weeks until you/they can get their feet on the ground. We all know how daunting it is going to a new country and having no friends, and this really broke that barrier. Another great thing would be if host parents asked their current au pair to ask their friends to reach out to the new au pair. Again, there’s no contract saying you have to be friends forever, but to break that initial feeling of having nobody, is great.

American Host Mom in Europe October 7, 2015 at 7:01 am

Many of my au pairs have connected on Facebook with my previous au pairs, and then been connected with some of their friends who are still here (most of my APs have had local friends, not other APs). My APs generally overlap for a week, and I try to ensure there’s at least one weekend of overlap so new AP can go out socially with outgoing AP and meet people

For several years, the friends got passed along but morphed, and it was quite funny. So AP 1 was friends with X, then AP 2 met Y at X’s party and they got to be friends; then AP 3 met Z when out with X, and they got to be friends, etc. I think by the time we got to AP 4, she never met X, but was friends with folks who knew Y and Z.

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