Here’s a request for advice from Sophia, a soon-to-be-au pair:
I’ve been writing and reading this blog for a while, and I’m more than happy to say that I have finally taken the step and I’m formally applying with AuPairCare.
I’m now filling my application, and I’ve found trouble with some point, the thing is I’m actually studying psychologies at a distance university, and I plan to continue my studies while I’m Au Pairing in the U.S, my university has an office in NYC, I don’t have to attend classes, just go there two weeks a year to take my exams, I know it wont interfere with my job, because I’m now working and taking different courses while studying on the week ends, and nor my job nor my grades are affected.
The two problems I see with this are:
1. Will HF find a problem with me being a formal student? I know the amount of time I need to dedicate to my degree, and I know for sure it won’t make a difference, but, how do I make this clear?
2. It is easier for me to live in NYC or close to it, because I have to take my exams at their office there, I don’t want to sound like a princess or a spoiled girl that wants to live in NYC because it is a big, famous city, it is just where my college is, how do I bring this up without sounding like I’m making up an excuse?
I’m really looking foward to being an Au Pair at the States, but my degree is also important to me, I wouldn’t like to take a sabatic year, and as I’ve said I’m 100% positive it won’t be a distraction.
I want to be honest, so this is something I want to appear on my application, I don’t feel like bringing it up on a former interview is appropriate, I want families to know I’m clear about it.
What is your advice about this problem? I’m confident enough to know I’d be a wonderful Au Pair (I’ve already been one in UK, and have worked with kids in the U.S.A before, I’ve just arrived from a YMCA Camp in Pennsylvania).
Thank You very much. Sofia, Spain
It’s funny that you should bring this up, because we just had a visit from our AP#2, SD, who was enrolled in two courses in her French university while she was an au pair with us. One of my fondest memories of her time with us was me always having to tell her to move her Economics books off the dining room table herself, because they were too heavy for me to lift!
SD took both Economics and Japanese, for two semesters, and then traveled to NYC to sit for her exams. Although she didn’t tell us during the matching process that she was taking classes, it didn’t bother me. Initially, I really misunderstood how serious her courses were … I thought at first she was doing them for fun and not for credit. But SD studied regularly every day… sometimes when the baby was sleeping, and usually for 1-2 hours each day when she was off-duty. Because SD was so dedicated, and so organized, we never ever experienced a conflict.
One thing I would suggest is that you take less than a full load of classes (SD’s two courses per semester were a half-time load). I honestly don’t think that anyone can work 45 hours a week and take a full schedule of classes and still sleep enough– much less enjoy her au pair year.
Host families will be concerned whether your expectations of yourself are realistic– so think of ways you can demonstrate that you are competent as a student (e.g., mention your grades, talk about your study skills). Host families will also be concerned about what comes first – your au pair year or your studies.
Just like if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend back home, another job/school commitment can cut into your dedication to do a good job as an au pair. Again, you can talk about how you’d put the kids first, and how you’d prevent your schoolwork from interfering with your au pairing… (for example, if you have good study skills you won’t be up all night finishing an assignment and getting too tired to au pair well the next day.)
Those are my thoughts– parents and au pairs, what do you advise?
Image: Day 33- I need to study! from rachel_titiriga on Flickr