Au pair experiences

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21Steps&Beyond is an online travelling web and magazine based on citizen journalism. This is the first of 21Steps&Beyond experience magazines, based on au pair experiences in Ireland, the UK and France. If you want to collaborate with us on our webpage or magazine just contact us in any of these sites, or by email at: ppeinado.21steps@gmail.com Web: 21stepsandbeyond.com Facebook:21stepsandbeyond Twitter: 21StepsAndByond Instagram: 21Stepsandbeyond We are looking for more aupairs and volunteers for the next launches, and we are looking forward to hear from you and know about your amazing experiences!

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“The railroad track is miles away, And the day is loud with voices speaking. Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day But I hear its whistle shrieking. All night there isn’t a train goes by, Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming, But I see its cinders red on the sky And hear its engine steaming. My heart is warm with friends I make, And better friends I’ll not be knowing, Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take, No matter where it’s going” Travel. - Edna St. Vicent Millay


WELCOME I heard once that life is just a moment, and that moment is infinite

and infinity is the equivalent of destiny.

None of us knows what destiny is, we don’t even know if it is real or we just construct our own path. Once I said that destiny didn’t exist, there only existed choices and elections, and the person I was talking with answered: call it however you want. Whether we like it or not, we are here to make choices, we never know if they will be right or wrong, but that’s how life is supposed to be. Sometimes we have to take risks and jump into the adventure of uncertainty. Some time ago I decided to travel as au pair, and since then that experience still lives on my mind reminding me the good moments I lived and the person I became, the person who I am right now. So live, don’t think of the “ifs” and explore, smile, laugh and take the risks that will construct you as the person you are and you will be.

Be an aupair and live an experience you will never forget.n

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CONTENTS

10. Participants 14. What is to be an au pair? 16. Au pairs in Cork Ireland 18. The work of being a kid who never stops growing

26. Discovering Ireland. The both sides of an au pair life

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An Italian in Ireland.

An infinite adventure

42. What’s in?

44. Cork & surroundings 8

48. Au pair in Paris, France 50. My Parisian Au pair

experience

58. What’s in? 60. Paris & Surroundings 64. Au pair in London, UK 66. An au pair in London. The best job ever

72. What’s in? 74. London & surroundings 9


P A R T I C I P A N T

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Paola Peinado, (Madrid,1993), is the creator of www. 21Stepsandeyond.com and 21Steps&Beyond expereinces magazine. She studied her Media Studies degree and is still studying an English Studies. She is a photography lover who shares this work with her travel passion. When she was 17 she discovered that the best way to learn is doing so meeting people from different countries, and after being au pair she knew she had to share this with the rest of the word. Blog: 21pasosymas.com Instagram: heyhiworld

Juliane

Roisin Astell

is is a 22 year old English girl, whom after graduating university, packed her bags and headed off to become an Au Pair in Paris for the year. Now back in England, Roisin is beginning her Masters degree at University of Oxford, where she will be devling into all things Medieval. When not in the books, Roisin is frequently blogging about her various travels, and during her au pair year, opened the world of Paris with its hidden gems to all – and she continues to do so. Blog: roisingrace.com Instagram: roisin__grace

Cristi Burrow

(Brazil, 1990) one day she left everything he had, including her job to move to a different country and study English. Ireland brought her the experience of her life, even more when she decided to become an au pair and live an adventure she will never forget.

(Barcelona, 1992). She worked as graphic designer, but once her contract finished, she decided to study English. She was 100% sure that being au pair in London would be the best way of doing it, as she would learn from native people ,not only their language, but also about their culture. Once her experience was over, despite the incoveniences she knew it had been a great experience, and she’s now repeiting again in the same city. Instagram: crispain13

Michela Lagorio (Italy, 1990) was studying tourism ser-

Natalia Minguela

vices when in July 2012 she left Italy to move to be an aupair in Ireland. After 2 years in Douglas, Cork, and a year in Carrigaline, Cork, she is still living in Ireland, happier than ever and looking for a job. Facebook Page: DonnieCloud.ARTWORK Instagram: donniecloud

(Madrid, 1993) Graduated in the Bachellor of Arts in the Nebrija University of Madrid, is especially interested in new technologies focused on photo and video. She was finalist in the Videotalents III contest 2014 edition. She has participated in different collective exhibitions: Central of Desing in Matadero-Madrid, 2015; the Centre of Arts Santaella Contemporánea, Córdoba, 2015; Espacio B, Madrid, 2015; Creativity and Projects, Slowtrack, 2014, and several in the University of Nebrija (2013-14). In 2015 she started to work in photography investigation in the Centre of Arts of Alcobendas, Madrid.

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GETTING TO KNOW

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WHAT IS TO BE AN AU PAIR? For some people to be an au

want to be an au pair”: http://21stepsandbeyond.

pair is the best way of travelling, for others it sounds like a nightmare.

com/2015/06/17/things-you-need-to-know-if-

If you have watched that Scarlett Johansson’s film

one of the best experiences of your life.

“Nanny Diaries” you will understand what I’m

Summing up, some of the things you should do

saying, and if you haven’t this is a good time to

are the following:

prepare popcorn, sit on the sofa and get ready

- Always make skype interviews with the family

to understand a bit more the life of a home stay

- Never accept without seeing written conditions

child minder.

and agreements. Write a contract.

But if you want to know the daylife of a real

- Ask for references

aupair, don’t turn on the TV yet and keep read-

- Make sure that you will be able to manage the

ing.

kids according his ages and personalities.

The Cambridge dictionary defines au pair as “a

-Never lose your illusion and enjoy your time

young person from abroad employed by a fam-

whilst working.

ily to look after the children and help with the

Being an au pair allows you to learn from differ-

housework in return for room, meals, pocket

ent people and different cultures, to make friends

money and an opportunity to learn the language”

from different countries, to appreciate the small

It sounds amazing, and in some cases it is, but

things and to fall in love with the smile of the

sometimes the conditions, duties and facilities

kids that will be like small brothers or sisters for

are not as beautiful as they seem, or as the fami-

you. n

lies tell you in the first time. In the article “Things you need to know if you

you-want-to-be-an-aupair-2/ you can find tips and steps to follow to help you to certainly have


AU PAIRS IN CORK, IRELAND

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THE WORK OF BEING A KID WHO NEVER STOPS GROWING

Text and photos by Paola Peinado

“Being an aupair is

something you have to do at least once in your life� I had been with that idea on my mid for two years, and finally in June of 2014 it came to reality. A hot afternoon of recent summer I was saying goodbye to my family with my suitcases on my sides, not being aware of the big experience that I was about to live. It was February when I started to do my search. I registered on www.aupairworld.com, and full of illusion and excitement I filled my information

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to 12 years old. They all were lovely, but since it would probably be too much for me, I chose the second family, a couple who lived in a small town near the city of Cork with two kids of 3 and 4 years old. A friendly and happy family that inspired me so much happiness I definitely wanted to live with them. So there I was some months after that skype call, introducing myself to the people who were going to be my family for that summer. The kids were asleep by then, and despite what I would find afterwards, they seemed the calmest kids in the world. Once in my bedroom I started to realize that everything was not going to be as good as I expected, although my initial optimism wouldn’t let me see it until two weeks later. Before falling asleep I opened the folder that was on my bed, and there were written conditions and agreements, a paper I asked for during the time I was getting in contact with the family and I never received until that moment. I knew it wasn’t that bad, but I told myself not to accept any job without seen the written conand started to write to Irish families.

ditions first. When we skyped, I was supposed

Few weeks later I was already receiving emails

to do some light house work, and now it seemed

from some of them, and after sharing some in-

that I would have to use one day just for cleaning

formation, I agreed to skype with two.

that three floor’s house.

The first family was from Galway, they lived in

In my tiredness of the trip I told myself not to

the countryside and they had four kids from 3

think and rest for the rest of the night.

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I woke up with a smile on my face when the kids were jumping on my bed giving me drawings and presents. I thought I was going to love them after those months, and I was right. But that day I discovered as well that when you’re an au pair you don’t want to be liked by the kids in the first time, you want to like and be liked by the parents. These are all the things I discovered that first day: the kids were extremely spoilt, I would have to play football and many other sports, I would have to clean more than expected, and coffee was only for special occasions. The affection and also the problems arrived some days later, when I earned the confidence of the kids that day the little girl told me the secret that she loved me, but also when I earned the hatred of her mother the day in which she freaked out because I didn’t have emptied the dishwasher or

pined up their clothes when she arrived after an hour shopping and I was playing with the kids. When I told her my job was to mind her kids she told me to go to my room so I could calm down. In addition, the meals were also a big issue. I had to eat three days a week spaghetti Bolognese and the other three days mashed potatoes with carrots. In the meantime I discovered how to drink coffee in a way they would notice. I am a coffee person. They tried to be kind sometimes, and the mother even invited me for coffee someday, and some mornings they bought me scones for breakfast, but that didn’t mean they were happy with me. When you are in a foreign country working for people you are living with, you try to solve any kind of problem, so I talked with the parents many times bearing comments like: “you don’t have interest in this country”, “Spanish people are lazy”, “You have insane reactions”, “I had a con-

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frontation with my husband and kids and it was

them all the food they could.

cleaned everything they wanted without saying a

leave the house as soon as possible.

your fault”, “I offer you to buy your own food,

Fortunately being an au pair is not only that, and

word, and wore the best of my smiles all the time,

I don’t think it was the best thing I could do, but

you eat a lot”, “we give you a week to change your

in some places there are many ways of making

but I was always scared that I would do some-

sometimes to be strong is to be selfish as well.

behavior”.

friends. There was this pub in the town I stayed,

thing the mother wouldn’t like.

I think that the parents sometimes don’t think

where every Wednesday night all the aupairs met

I met another au pair whose

that the way they act with you affects your mood,

to talk about their weeks and make plans for the

and you are the person in charge of their kids, the

weekends.

kids see how their parents treat you, and think

By that moment I already had friends from dif-

that you are not a good person, they can like you,

ferent countries, friends that even today I still

“...for better or worse I could have a room I was gokids were the same ages than there I was again, alone ing to rent, I told the famimines, and when I told the with my suitcases on ly that I was leav leaving the mother we were going outside mi sides walking on the house in that same day, which together so the kids could play street to my new house.” was a completely shock for all

but they won’t behave if their parents don’t do so

maintain and who were in the same situation.

and have fun with each other,

with you. There were days in which the children

These persons, especially three of them were a

she said she didn’t want the kids to be with them

all my things and leave the house in that same

said what their parents said about me, and there

great support for me and probably if it wasn’t be-

for long because her children needed to be “on

morning.

weren’t really nice things.

cause of them I would have gone to my country

their own”.

I don’t regret at all what I did because of the way

In their summer hollydays, when the family left

before July had finished.

So when they arrived from their week holydays

the parents acted with me, but I left the house

the house for a week and offered me to travel, I

By the beginning of August I couldn’t stand that

and told me that they wanted me to leave the

with tears running on my face when I saw the sad

said I would stay in the house, and they took with

situation much longer. I tried to do my best; I

house a week before than we agreed, I decided to

faces of the kids who were sitting on the stairs

When I got the message that

of them, and told me to pack


grabbing the bars and asking me when I would

that when they told me they would give me my

come back. All of the moments came to my mind

own bedroom with my own bathroom I decided

like a whirlwind: that day in which I dressed up

to move with them. I would keep my space clean

with them and we played to be knights and prin-

and I wouldn’t think of the rest of the house.

cesses, the mornings when we turned on the mu-

I spent some of my best moments in Ireland with

sic and I danced giving piggyback rides to them

them, but when I realized that the house had a

all over the house, when we played hide and seek

plague of silverfish and the family had to call a

in the garden, all the ”why” funny questions they

specialist, I saw myself on the street again, two

asked, and all of the sights and hugs they gave me

days before going back to my country.

that I was going to miss like crazy.

I had the help of my friends again, and of that

And for better or worse there I was again, alone

family I rented the room. And luckily I had a

with my suitcases on mi sides walking on the

place to stay before my flight would take off to

street to my new house.

Spain.

They prepared me a room and welcomed me as if

I learned so many things and I was so grateful I

I was a real member of their family, inspiring me

met all those people who made me see life from a

with optimism, happiness and the kindest words.

different perspective, who made me believe that

As I had to earn money I started to be live out

to be kind with everyone is one of the most im-

au pair in another family, and even though the

portant things we can do.

house was a mess and that was the reason why I

If I had to live that experience and go through all

didn’t want to live with them, the two girls of 8

those bad moments it was just because I had to

and 10 years old were really funny and lovely and

meet all those great persons and find out in the

I had so much fun being with them. The situa-

end that everything is worth it, that in spite of

tion changed drastically because the parents just

everything I would be aupair again.

wanted me to be with their daughters, go with

But especially I learnt how important it is to love

them to the park, go cycling with them, go to

and live, and try to be happy taking the most of

the library, take them to the cinema or just be at

every moment, because every second is special.

home playing games. They wouldn’t complain or yell at me all the time for things I wouldn’t even know. And I was allowed to drink coffee. After a week working with them I was so happy

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Meet people, make friends, fall in love, play like a kid, be a kid, and never stop growing, because that is what keep us alive. Be an au pair and never regret any minute of your life, because this is just an experience and any bad moment takes you to a better one. n


DISCOVERING IRELAND THE BOTH SIDES OF AN AUPAIR LIFE Text and photos by Juliane

I am Juliane, 25 years old and

I’m from Brazil. This story starts there, where I was working, when I decided that I wanted to live a different experience abroad.

I made the hard decision of leaving my job in my country in order to study English and to discover other cultures and people. I

went

I

attended

to to

Cork,

Ireland,

where

an

English

course.

The first weeks were quite confusing. Because being away from Brazil I needed a visa, so I spent the first weeks going to immigration office to show all my documents to get a student visa

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“All in all we had a good used to earn in the first famiexperience with each ly. It seemed to be fair and she don’t think that would be fair. other. The boy was such As they didn’t want to change promised me good a nice kid and we had a the conditions and payments, of work. really good time. Besides conditions I decided to leave the family. I could learn from them All the things she said were All in all we had a good ex- and they learned from true just the first week. After perience with each other. that she used to ask me to clean me.” for the same amount, and I

that allowed me to stay in Ireland for one year.

lage close to Cork. I had one boy to mind. He

After 2 months living in Cork city, where I used

was 9 years old. The family seemed to be very

to share a house with some flat mates, I realized

nice and flexible. I had very good moments with

that I could not afford a living there, as I couldn’t

then. My job was basically to prepare his break-

find a job such as waitress or cleaner (my English

fast, after this he went to school and I went to

was not so good and consequently this kind of

my course. I just came back to work after he left

jobs are more likely to find when you are not flu-

school at 2:00pm. I had to look after their dogs,

ent in English), so I decided to become an au pair.

but it was a nice task. After one month I had

I had some experience minding kids in Brazil and

started accumulating tasks: mind the boy, mind

I found this kind of job a nice opportunity to know

the dogs, clean the toilet, iron the clothes (not

the local culture. I used to see so many advertise-

only the child’s), hover the floor (because the dog

ments on Facebook pages about families looking

lived inside the house), mop the floor and wash

for people to look after their children, and for that

dishes. However they never treated me bad. I was

reason I stated to talk to these families online.

always treated like a human being with dignity.

In my case it was a bit hard because I had to attend to

But I made the decision of leaving them because

English classes and my drive license was expired,

my pocket money was lower than all my friends’.

so couldn’t drive in Ireland. But after some weeks

By then the summer was coming and my stud-

I found a family that accepted these conditions.

ies were over, so I decided to talk to them about

My first experience was with a family in a vil-

summer time, because I would work full time

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The boy was such a nice kid and we had a re-

toilets, to do mopping and hovering - floor and

ally good time. Besides I could learn from

carpets, to do the dusting and polishing furniture

them and they learned from me. But at the end

and mirrors, also to help with the laundry and

I was stressed with all the cleaning and tasks

iron everyone’s clothes. I use to tidy constantly

that are not supposed to be part of an Au pair

because she was all the time at home with me and

routine. In spite of the cleaning that I used to

the kids giving me tasks. The way she talked to

do, at least they treated me well all the time.

me was not polite. Sometimes she used to ask me

This is my second and terrible experience: At the same village I found a lady who offered me a job as Au pair. I told her about my previous experience and the things that I was not expecting to find again. During the “interview” she said she wasn’t looking for a cleaner but a person to mind the kids. She did not work. She was at home the whole day, “helping” me in my job. I had 3 kids to mind: a 5 year old girl, and two babies (18 months old twins). She offered me the double that I

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things in a rude way, even offensive. Normally, I

ferent reality if we compare to initial purposes.

worked from 7:30am (when the babies woke up)

There are many examples that I could write but it

to 6:30pm when her husband came from work,

would be too long. I had a huge responsibility be-

11 hours per day in average. Also she said I would

cause three kids are hard to mind, especially be-

have free weekends, but after a certain time she

cause of the babies. With so many cleaning tasks

came up to me with an agenda, asking me to work

I got really weak, and many days I didn’t even eat

Saturdays and Sundays, and she would give me

properly. Sometimes I realized that I had not eat-

Mondays or week days as an exchange. She made

en for 4 or 5 hours, so I was starving. Literally I

a planning for me: I would work 20 days with no

did not stop. I was always running from room to

brakes, with no days off to rest. Completely dif-

room trying to do everything she used to ask. In most cases emphasizing that I should do things fast: “Quick Juliane, quick”, or “quickly …quick-

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ly”. I had a small hover to clean around the ba-

I had level of red cells and white cells a bit out of

bies in case they were eating and dropping small

the normal limits for my age and weigh). When I

pieces of biscuits on the floor. The house had to

came home with a 3-days notice from the doctor

be extremely organized and tidy all the time.

to rest she got angry because I got sick and she

As a result I got sick. I had an infection, tonsil-

wouldn’t have any help those days (!). For 3 days,

litis. Coincidently that week her husband was

in my bedroom, nobody knocked my door to

traveling so she asked me to work from 7-8am

check if was alive, or in pain, or to offer anything.

to 9pm, because he was not there so I had to help

After that things just got worse and worse. I

extra hours. I said I was not good, feeling ill. She

was seen as a “sick au pair” and useless. I felt

didn’t offer to bring me to the doctor. I had to

like an object. She looked at me in a very neg-

skype a doctor in Brazil and just on Saturday (my

ative way. I made my decision to leave the

free day) I could go to see a doctor in Ireland. The

house. My family, my friends and the doc-

doctor advised me to leave the family. After many

tor supported me. It was for my own sake.

days taking antibiotics I got sick again. That time

I had horrible days sick, with temperature,

I was worse and I had to tell her I couldn’t work.

weak and I could not drink or eat properly.

I went to see the same doctor (she didn’t bring

I talked to her to leave the house, I could not

me to the doctor or offered to pay anything). The

stay there. She told me disgusting things like:

doctor took my blood to test it. (After he told me

“I think it is better, because I don’t need a sick


person. You got sick twice, and I don’t know if

own. So organize your bags and leave. You have

me because they were terrified about my story.

the time of our lives. I really recommend the

you are going to be OK to work or not. I hired

until tomorrow before lunch time to leave.”

I will be thankful forever. They are like angels.

au pair experience because it is a very rich way

you to work, not to stay in the bedroom rest-

Nevertheless being with her kids was a great ex-

In spite of all these terrible experiences, I

to know a different country and its culture. -

ing. Probably you are in the bedroom studying

perience. The babies were so cute, the older girl

know that is not the truth about Ireland and

My advice is always asking for the fam-

or watching some movies because tonsillitis is

really sweet and we had very good moments to-

its people. I loved Ireland an Irish people. It

ily’s references and to be aware! Your

not too bad. In Ireland this is common. Also

gether, especially when the mother left the house.

is an amazing country. I visited places, pubs

job/role is to be an aupair, just that.

you are very expensive for us, because you just

She brought with her the negative energy. So the

and parks where I had very nice experienc-

Another point I would like to emphasize is

mind the kids, play with them” (what is sup-

kids and I stayed much better, with no paranoid

es and I met very good people but I was just

that there is no official aupair program in Ire-

posed to be an au pair job??? She was telling me

of cleaning, just playing and having fun together.

unlucky with the families that I worked for.

land. So under the Irish law an aupair or do-

a huge lie and being ironic because she always

My story wasn’t worse because I asked for help. In

Also the au pairs use to have a weekly meeting.

mestic worker is supposed to be paid according

asked me to clean the house). This was part of

my case to go back to Brazil would have been very

This was a very cool part of my experience. I

to the Irish minimum salary. My opinion after

our last conversation. She said she preferred a lo-

difficult and expensive. I asked a friend of mine to

could meet people from Ireland but also from

months working as aupair is that the role in-

cal person to do these jobs in her house, because

contact her boyfriend’s mother, who lives in the

Spain, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy,

volves many responsibilities and tasks. I would

au pairs don’t have real experience and don’t

same village. She picked me up in the house with

Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Netherlands.

say it’s one job as any other and I would love if

speak properly English, so she had to repeat.

my bags. If it wasn’t for her I would have stayed

This was absolutely amazing. To party together,

the Irish government did something to make

I was shocked, I could not answer her. I just said

on the street, because all my friends were au pairs

pubs, day trips together, barbecues, beach, sun-

this situation better because the number of

to her that I wanted to leave and I didn’t want

and they couldn’t help me offering a place to stay.

sets, picnics... We became friends and we had

“bad families” is increasing year after year.

arguments. Then she said: “we are going to

I stayed one month with this Irish family. They

Dublin, and I don’t want you stay here by your

didn’t ask me anything; they just wanted to help

n

My advice is always asking for the family’s references and to be aware! Your job/role is to be an aupair, just that. 32

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AN ITALIAN IN IRELAD AN INFINITE ADVENTURE

Text and photos by Michela Lagorio

After doing 6 months of col-

lege in Italy, I thought had enough as it wasn’t what I expected it to be, and when my mother showed me this website called “aupairworld.com” I decided to subscribe myself and go working as aupair somewhere abroad. I decided I wanted to go to Ireland, because I had already been there 3 times: the first time with the school, I stayed 5 days in Dublin and 10 days in Cork, in Carrigaline precisely, hosted by a lovely family who had 3 children: Nia-

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mh, Ronan and Aidan; the second time the

time, plus I like to do things on my own. Except

her and it’s a really lovely town super colorful.

Irish movies, all the buses around Cork are free of

host family invited me over for Easter holi-

the trips with the family I didn’t travel much

The place where I lived with the au pair fam-

charge and on them there are musicians playing.

days and the third time for Summer holidays.

around Ireland, always thinking that I would

ily was perfect, close to the airport and to the

During the summer there are lots of festivals

This time, to be au pair, I waited and waited un-

live in the country many years in the future so

city centre on one side and close to Douglas on

everywhere around Ireland and my favourite is

til the Lequin Family contacted me and I took

I wouldn’t need to do everything in a hurry.

the other side. In Douglas there’s a big shop-

the Electric Picnic, a 3 days festival in Stradbal-

a flight to Cork the 12th of July 2012. When I

Other time, the au pair family took me to a fes-

ping centre with a really big

ly (near Dublin) with 150 bands

got there I met the previous aupair that thanked

tival called Liss Ard Festival which is in Skibber-

me to come ahead of schedule, because she

een, Co. Cork, and I loved it! I also met some

had to go back to Italy for some family prob-

friends of the family who had a massive house

lems and couldn’t finish the year agreed with

with books everywhere. These friends had a

them. At first impression, it seemed a nice

daughter of my same age. She and I became good

on the third floor by itself,

decided to go by myself because

family and they were except sometimes…

friends and we planned to go around the festi-

my bed was super comfy, I had a nice televi-

I didn’t really knew anybody, (well I made some

The family was composed by: Guillaume

val, but I wrote down the wrong number so I

sion to watch whatever I wanted and when-

friends from the previous time I was in Ireland

(French), Stephanie (Irish), Luc (11), Tom

was really sad because I couldn’t find her at the

ever I wanted, my own bathroom, a big ward-

but they were too young, the minimum age is

(8) and Emma (6). They were always tak-

end…I tried to look for her but the kids were

robe, a big library and also a big window

18s even though there are families as well) so I

ing me with them on trips. One time, in Paris

getting tired so we decided to go back home.

from where I could watch the beautiful views.

took the emergency money my dad gave me and

they even allowed my mother and my sister to

They also took me on holidays to Sneem (Co. Ker-

There’s a lot to do in Cork, ‘cause there’s always

bough the ticket. When I got to the bus station,

come visit me and stay in their house, they al-

ry), where we stayed in an apartment in front of a

some kind of fair or festival, like for example the

they informed me that you have to book in ad-

lowed me to use their car anytime I wanted and

beautiful lake and lots of woods to explore. There

Cork Jazz Festival which lasts for a weekend and

vance the bus from Cork to the festival and I got

I was only working from Tuesday until Friday.

I met some friends of the family as well who were

there’s jazz music everywhere and every time;

super sad because I thought I’d lost my chance to

Since I got to Ireland, I decided not to go to any

Italians so I spent a lot of time chatting away in

or the Culture Night which is a night of culture:

go to it. Then a guy saw me kind of crying and

aupair meetings, because I didn’t want to meet

Italian with them. The mother of Stephanie lives

all museums stay open until late, the city hall is

told me that there was another bus going from

any Italian girl and then just talk Italian all the

in Kinsale, so we went a lot of times there to visit

open to the public and they usually screen short

Cork to Port Laois and then another bus from

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Then was when I fell library and also the cinema, playing on 5 different stages, it’s a in love with Ireland. so if I didn’t know what to bit expensive, something like 240 Even though I went do I was usually going there. € but it’s worth it. The first time there by myself, I nevMy room in the house was I went there, in August 2012, I er really felt alone.

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Port Laois to Stradbally, so we went to that one

some girls sitting there and so they did; later on,

together and then, when we got to the festival, he

when I came out, they invited me to stay there

helped me with my tent and offered me a can of

with them drinking cans and I accepted, because

beer. Then was when I fell in love with Ireland.

it was still early and I didn’t want to go back to

Even though I went there by myself, I never really

the au pair house. After a few hours other people

felt alone. We became friends with our tent-neigh-

arrived and they invited us all to a multicultural

bors and usually I went around with them, and

party where there were Italians, French, Spanish

if not, I always found somebody to stay with.

and German people, so I though WHY NOT?

Irish people are so friendly and I start-

We went there and I had so much fun. House

ed to feel happiness again in my heart.

parties are crazy! After, we went out to a pub and

This year (2015) is going to be my 4th time at

when it closed down at 2 am, I decided to go to a

this festival, the other times I went with my

McDonald’s to get a hamburger. With me, there

boyfriend and other friends enjoying it a lot.

was this Italian guy that I really couldn’t stand,

I can’t do a comparison with going by my-

but I knew that soon I would have go back to

self because in the second case I didn’t have to

the house, so I decided to hold on a little lon-

worry about anyobody when in the first case

ger. One of my boyfriend’ friends (Gaz) heard us

I was always with someone that I knew and

talking in Italian so he arrived next to us scream-

I loved sharing memories with them then.

ing: PASTA! PIZZA! MAFIA! MANDOLINO!

People keep saying to me that I decided to stay in

And then asked us if we wanted to come to their

Ireland because I found an Irish boyfriend; it’s half

house party, so I replied: YES, YES! straight away.

true because the other reason is because Ireland

My first impression of my Irish boyfriend (John)

makes me happier than I was before in Italy. Now

was that with that long black coat, his hair kind

I’ll talk about how I met my boyfriend to make ev-

of long and his shyness he looked like a damned

erybody understand more why I’m so happy here.

poet, like those one that struggle to live because

It was a Friday night of August, few weeks before

this world is just wrong, then at the house party

going to the festival, and I was really exhausted of

(as in a movie I saw that if you drink with the

minding the kids all week so I decided to go out

straw it means you’re gay) I thought he was gay

to the city centre to buy make-up. After doing

so I started saying that to him and he started

that, I needed to go to a public toilet, but I didn’t

to say to me lesbian and we kept saying it until

know how to open them so I asked for help to

our mouth was really close and then it’s history.

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It was such a random night, that I’ll nev-

doing that, or picking up the kids from school

er forget. Anyway since I discovered the

or doing the homework or that time when af-

house parties, I was out every weekend and I

ter they came back from Paris they just left all

had so many great nights that if I described

their luggage in the leaving room full of dirty

them all here I would create a book about it.

clothes for me to wash and iron them), I start-

But there’s one last story I want to tell. One day

ed to like wine (because they offered me some

the au pair mother invited me to go with her and

the first night for dinner and I didn’t want to

her workmates to a pub, after few weeks that I

say no), I started to at least try the food they

got there and after the mother went back to the

cooked because I didn’t want to be impolite and

house I stayed with them and I had so much fun,

also to cook a different food every day, I learned

we went to a nightclub where one of them got sick

to believe in myself more and to enjoy more

so he got thrown out and then we went to their

about social life and to be more independent.

house to smoke and chat until 10 in the morning. What I learned from being au pair is that doing the housework is actually fun (except when the father was at home because he was screaming at him question about everything like when I was

Thanks to all that I’m way happier now. n

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WHAT’S IN?

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CORK & SURROUNDINGS Text and photos by Paola Peinado

1st left: Cork city, Ireland. Top left and right: Crosshaven, Co. Cork, Ireland Bottom: Fountainstown, Co. Cork Ireland

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1. Killarney National Park Castle. Co. Kerry, Ireland 2. Jameson’s Distillery, Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland 3. Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland.

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AU PAIR IN PARIS, FRANCE

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MY PARISIAN AU PAIR EXPERIENCE

Text and photos by Roisin Astell

I had been with that idea on

my mid for two years, I have for many years liked the idea of becoming an au pair. The idea of moving off to another country for a year had always been in the back of my mind, as both my Mum and Aunt are previous au pairs, as well as having them myself whilst growing up. But it wasn’t until going through some rough times whilst at University did I decide that a break was what I needed after education. After graduating in July 2014, I packed up my bags and left to begin a new stage of my life in a different country: France.

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“Why France?” many people have asked me,

the school year, I would be looking after three

and although I could write forever about the

children – A 15-year-old Boy, a 14-year-old Girl,

many reasons, it simply came

“...upon leaving I and a 9-year-old Boy. Throughout down to wanting to learn the lan- really felt as if I had the year, I had some fantastic times guage. With my intent of continu-become an older-sis-with the family, and upon leaving I ing education afterwards, with the ter figure for them really felt as if I had become an olddesire to focus on all things Medi- – they are certainly er-sister figure for them – they are like the younger sib- certainly like the younger siblings I eval French, lings I never had.” never had. I had a wonderful time I was incredibly lucky to have travelled to Paris three times during my last

being part of the family, and have so many fond

year of undergraduate degree; both for pleasure

memories that I will cherish forever. The chil-

with my family but also as part of study trips.

dren were amazing, and I could not have asked

Every time I visited I could not but fall deeper

for a better family to au pair with.

in love with the city. As many will agree, there is

My daily routine was pretty normal, although

something so timeless and magical about Paris,

all au pairs will have different day-to-day tasks.

which lures you in.

I was lucky enough to have the mornings free,

However, whilst in the process of applying to be-

as the kids either took themselves to school via

come an au pair, it hadn’t even occurred to me to

bus or the Mum was on hand to take them before

specify Paris as the location I desired. It wasn’t

beginning her workday. Au pair duties officially

until my Mum noticed this, and persuaded (very

began at 4pm, which went a little like this:

easily I might add!) to change this and focus on

Pick youngest up from school; take to various

the capital – and I am so glad that I did! I don’t

after school clubs/classes; pick up the elder kids

think that my experience in France would have

from school and drop home; prepare and make

been the same if not in Paris. That’s not to say

dinner; help with homework; spend time play-

that au pairing in the south or anywhere else in

ing – which included a lot of badminton in the

the country would be not be as good, but that

summer; help get the youngest ready for bed;

there was so much that I am interested in that I

and read or play before bedtime – finishing any-

could immerse myself in whilst living in the cap-

where between 8-9pm.

ital.

During the week I would also tidy the children’s

I was incredibly lucky with my host family. For

rooms every morning – making beds and put-

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ting things away – and also take care of washing

compared to other capitals such as London. This

of doing just this become apparent to me, and I

fact, one of the Au Pair groups that I joined host-

their clothes.

makes perfect for those like myself who enjoy

wish I had known sooner!

ed an international picnic for all the Au Pairs in-

My host family were great and made me feel like

aimlessly walking around the city, enjoying the

Language classes I believe are a must for au pairs.

terested to come and meet others. It was at one of

part of the family, which I will forever be grate-

various sights.

Not only will you be able to improve the said lan-

these picnics that I met some of my best friends

ful for. I was also lucky enough to go skiing with

There is also a wonderful au pair community

guage that you are learning, but it’s also a fan-

– and I’m so glad that I did! I had nearly decid-

them during the February holiday and took the

in Paris, with people coming from all over the

tastic place to meet other au pairs. In fact, my

ed not to attend, but realised that even though I

children down to family in the south of France

world. I was surprised at just how many other au

school was primarily filled with Au Pairs, and my

didn’t know anybody, it’s a great way to meet new

twice during my year with them.

pairs there were! It seemed that everywhere you

weekly classes were just Au Pairs! This makes it

people. Many Au Pair to me, and I wish I had

When applying for au pair positions, depend-

went, either to the shops, museums, or picnics by

a really easy way to meet others. The good thing

known sooner!

ing which website you’re using (I used this one:

la Tour Eiffel – you’d bump into a new set of oth-

about being in an environment like this is that

Language classes I believe are a must for au pairs.

www.aupairworld.com), you can specify the age

er au pairs! This was great, and meant that mak-

you’re all in the same boat – you are all looking

Not only will you be able to improve the said lan-

range you’re happy to work with. I am not very

ing friends and finding people who understand

after kids, probably living with a family and in a

guage that you are learning, but it’s also a fan-

comfortable working with very small babies

what you’re going through so much more easier.

different country to where you call home. I met

tastic place to meet other au pairs. In fact, my

or younger children, so specially stated this –

Making friends was definitely one of aspects of

some of my best friends in my class, and am so

school was primarily filled with Au Pairs, and my

whereas there will be plenty of au pairs out there

moving to a new country that I was a little wor-

glad that I did!

weekly classes were just Au Pairs! This makes it

who are.

ried about.

Another great way to meet other au pairs is to

a really easy way to meet others. The good thing

Living in Paris was a dream come true. The city

Moving to a new country where you do not nec-

check out social media, especially Facebook.

about being in an environment like this is that

itself is beautiful, with its harmonious architec-

essarily speak the language and know no one can

There is a wealth of Facebook groups out there

you’re all in the same boat – you are all looking

ture and tree-lined boulevards. The one thing

be incredibly daunting. Having experienced that

devoted to Au Pairs or International students. To

after kids, probably living with a family and in a

that I love about Paris is the vast variety of things

this year, it can be difficult at first, but there are

find them all you need to do is search ‘Au Pair

different country to where you call home. I met

going on in the city. There is always something

lots of ways of meeting and making new friends.

[and the country you are in]’. There should be

some of my best friends in my class, and am so

new to see, meaning that every weekend is differ-

It’s only after a year of living away in another

plenty of groups to join. Once joining, you can

glad that I did!

ent. Paris is also relatively small and condensed,

country has the amazing amount of possibilities

read other people’s posts and post yourself. In

Another great way to meet other au pairs is to

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check out social media, especially Facebook.

my own. A tip I urge new au pairs is not to be

to make the most of everything, and just enjoy

There is a wealth of Facebook groups out there

afraid of travelling on your own. Whilst obvious-

the time I had there. I cannot believe that it was

devoted to Au Pairs or International students. To

ly safety is incredibly important, don’t let wor-

just over a year that my Parisian adventure be-

find them all you need to do is search ‘Au Pair

ryng about such things prevent you from visit-

gan, and ended much too quickly. I met some of

[and the country you are in]’. There should be

ing amazing places. For example, I visited towns

my best friends; and I fell deeply, and madly in

plenty of groups to join. Once joining, you can

such as Reims and Giverny with Monet’s gardens

love with this beautiful city. Even though my year

read other people’s posts and post yourself. In

on my own, and had a wonderful time!

as an au pair in Paris might be over, my love affair

fact, one of the Au Pair groups that I joined host-

I would definitely recommend making the most

with the city will always be forever

ed an international picnic for all the Au Pairs in-

of these opportunities as such occasions are more

– I vow it to myself to move over there

terested to come and meet others. It was at one of

difficult to come by. I also spent various week-

at some point, to be able to call it

these picnics that I met some of my best friends

ends travelling to other countries, including: Ma-

home once again.

– and I’m so glad that I did! I had nearly decid-

drid, Berlin and Geneva (and even New York!). I

This is something that I am incredibly grateful

ed not to attend, but realised that even though I

had numerous friends who visited a whole host

that I may never have experienced if not becom-

didn’t know anybody, it’s a great way to meet new

of other places whilst being an au pair. As well as

ing an au pair. n

people. Many Au Pair Facebook groups host oth-

weekends, normally au pairs get the school hol-

er events and I recommend checking them out.

idays off providing up to two weeks free to go

You never know, like me you might find some

travelling – when do opportunities like this come

people who will become your closest friends

about!?

whilst living abroad.

Not only did I have a fantastic time, but also

I have written a whole blog post dedicated to

the whole experience helped me to learn things

this, so check it out if you want any more tips!

about myself. I feel that during my time as an au

(http://roisingrace.com/2015/08/26/how-to-

pair, I was able to mature more and I now real-

make-new-friends-as-an-au-pair/)

ise that I am much more independent that first

One of the great things about being an au pair

thought. This whole experience has also shown

is the freedom you have to explore the city and

that with determination and motivation, learn-

country you’re living in, as well as others around

ing a language is completely doable, as this was

Europe. Often during the weekend, which au

something I was very hesitant about before com-

pairs have off (yay!), I would book a train ticket

mencing.

to various cities in France. If not travelling with

Overall, I had the most amazing time. For me, I

others, I happily headed off to different towns on

have no cons – my aim whilst being in Paris was

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WHAT’S IN?

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PARIS & SURROUNDINGS

Text and photos by Roisin Astell

Notre-Dame Cathedral Gargoyle has the best view of the city, Paris

'Paris is always a good idea', le Seine, Paris

Cafe de Flore, Paris

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A tip I urge new au pairs is not to be afraid of travelling on your own. Whilst obviously safety is incredibly important, don’t let worrying about such things prevent you from visiting amazing places.

Fondation Claude Monet Gardens, Giverny.

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The Alpes, France.


AU PAIR IN LONDON, UK

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AN AU PAIR IN LONDON THE BEST JOB EVER

Text and photos by Cristina Burrezo

My name is Cristi, I’m 23

years old and I’m from Barcelona. I used to work as Graphic Designer, but then my contract finished and I decided to move to London. I thought that the best way of doing it was working as au pair. I worked as aupair for 5 months in London, living with a family in Willesden Green, a great area in zone 2, where you have shops and a very good transport link that takes you to the center of the city very quickly. My experience has good things and not so good

67


things, but it was absolutely worth it.

lawn, finally they decided that I wouldn’t do it,

When I found my host-family I thought they

luckily.

were the best family I could find. They were go-

The parents wanted me to cook for them, not

ing to give me good pocket-money and their

only for their kids, so I found myself taking care

house was in a good place to live. But when I met

of the kids but also of their parents. Then they

them my initial perspective changed a little bit.

left all the dishes in the sink, waiting for me to

The kids I was minding were 10 and 12 years old.

clean them once they finished the meals I had

These are good ages if you don’t like young kids,

prepared them. I had to feed two cats every day

and you are a beginner aupair, as they are very

in the morning and water the plants two days per

independent. But my kids were too independent,

week. Oh, and you know my favorite day of the

in my opinion.

week? Tuesday, when I had to iron all the father’s

They were always playing with their computers.

shirts! The may thought it was a fun thing for me

The eldest didn’t use to talk to me at all. Well, at

to do.

least he used to thank me for preparing his din-

One thing I used to do during the afternoon

ner; the youngest was kinder with me, but not

and I enjoyed as well was baking. I did muffins

much. And I think they used to see me as their

and cakes. The youngest used to like it, so it was

servant.

something we used to do together.

During the week I had to wake them up, it was

At least they bought me a present for Christmas,

easy with the youngest, but I had problems with

and that made me nice that they were good peo-

the eldest, it was very hard with him. I used to

ple after all.

prepare breakfast for them, and for the father!

I went back home for Christmas, for two weeks.

And then feed the cats. Every day I had to do

By that time everything was good with the En-

some housekeeping, but the reality was that I had

glish family and we were comfortable living

to do everything in the house, all the house work.

together, but unfortunately my grandmother

As I did not have to do so many things with

passed away during my holidays in Barcelona.

the kids, like going to the park, or take them to

Going again to London was too hard for me, but

school, I had to do the housekeeping. At first ev-

I had to go back with my host-family. Once there

erything was right, but after two months I was

again I didn’t feel supported by them at all and I

more a maid than an aupair. I even had to take

realized that some families don’t care about you.

the bins out, and they wanted me to mow the

You are just there to clean the house and to pre-

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pare dinner. For that reason I decided to leave

to learn the language. I also spent so much time

ant thing, so be very careful when you choose

them after 5 months and I went back to spend

in Camden Town. If you visit Camden Town,

your host family.

the summer with my family and my friends in

make sure you have enough money to buy all the

I did learn so many things being aupair. When

Barcelona. Could be a better place to spend the

great things you find in there!

you are away from your family you miss them so

summer than where your real family is? I don’t

I didn’t use to go out during the night so much,

much, and you appreciate them more than be-

think so.

but if you like dancing you must go to the Salsa

fore. My mum and my sister came to London to

Nevertheless not everything was bad. When the

bar, near Leicester square. Do not worry if you

visit me after two months away. I was very happy

weekends arrived I had so many things to do

don’t dance salsa, the people in there will teach

to have them with me, and we had so much fun

in London. I met great people, lots of aupairs I

you and you will spend a great time and meet

together.

could talk to, share our stories, have good time

new friends.

As you are alone in a different country, you have

with them and even have a laugh at the top of a

I also travelled during the weekends. I visited

to be very independent and you must learn to

bus, watching the whole city from the top. I am

Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, and I even went

take care of yourself. Believe me, you become a

still in touch with them and I can’t wait to see

to Ascot, to the horse races. Oh! The best place

better person.

them again.

I did visit was Harry Potter Studios, in Leaves-

London is the best place to live. You can find any-

I used to leave the house in the early morning

den. If you are a fan of Harry Potter you must go

thing you want. There are lots and lots of things

and come back late at night, so I used to spend

there! To visit new places you only have to take

to do, to visit, to discover. You will never get

all the day out (even if it was really cold outside),

the train, either in Victoria or Kings Cross, or

bored and you will meet great people from many

having so much fun with my new friends. There

any other train station in London. It is very easy

different countries.

is so much to do in London, and you have to plan

and quick.

what you want to do. Even though I lived there

If you want to be an aupair in London, the best

for 5 months I still have things to visit and do.

tip I can give you is that if you want to have some

If it’s sunny you can go out, go to the parks, do

free time to discover the city, you should go and

a picnic, or visit the Big Ben (when you visit it

live with a family that has children at a fulltime

more than 3 times you get bored). And if it’s

School, so the mornings are yours to go and see

rainy you can visit all the museums and art gal-

whatever you like. Make sure, that if you want

leries, go to shopping centers or have dinner in

to be near the city that family lives in the zones

a good restaurant. I used to visit street markets,

1, 2 or 3, because the transport will be cheaper.

eat Chinese food in Chinatown, or even go to

Maybe your host family pays you a lot, but that

the cinema. If your English is quite good you can

doesn’t mean that you will feel comfortable with

watch a film, and if you don’t, well, is a good way

them. The money is not always the most import-

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I recommend anyone to live this experience, you won’t regret. Actually, despite of everything, next week I’m moving back to London to be aupair again! n


WHAT’S IN?

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1. Big Ben, London, Uk. 2. Chez Antoinette caffee, in Covent Garden Market, London, the UK 3.Phone booth, London, UK 4. Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, UK

LONDON & SURROUNDINGS

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Text and photos by Natalia Minguela and Paola Peinado

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CAMBRIDGE

WINDSOR CASTLE



Created by: Paola Peinado Participants: Paola Peinado Juliane Michela Lagorio Roisin Astell Cristi Burrow Natalia Minguela Thanks to: JosĂŠ Borja Arjona Natalia Minguela

Madrid, Spain September 2015

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