Au pair is a French term which means “association”, which implies an exchange of favors. This term is used to describe the work of some girls who are hosted by a family overseas to do domestic chores in exchange for lodging and food, as well as a certain amount of money, which they can use to register in courses or spend it in clothes, accessories, etc.
When we say domestic chores, we mean basically to take care of children; that is, play with them, clean the house, iron their clothes, cook for them, take them to school and pick them up from there, take them for a walk in the park, help them with homework, go with their family in outings or trips, among other activities.
Like its name, the au pair work has its origins in Europe, where it has spread successfully. However, since 1989 this program has been also adopted in the United States.
Now then, working hours vary according to the au pair contract, but it usually ranges from 20 to 40 hours a week, depending on the country where the work is done. In the United States, girls must attend classes during their sojourn. Remember the main objective of this kind of work is cultural exchange.
We must make it clear that an au pair work is not the same as that of a nanny, who is prepared to educate children in exchange for a fixed wage. But, previous experience taking care of children, even if it was for a short time, is a requisite for people interested in au pair work.
This work is very suitable for young ladies who like to take care of children, learn languages and know customs from other nations. To work as au pair you must be between 18 and 30 years old. There is a minimum three-month period for contracts, but most people work for a year. It is important to have a basic knowledge of English.
Among the benefits of au pair work is that it is a simple job, as compared with other overseas jobs. Young ladies are treated as a member of the host family. The greatest advantage of this kind of work is that it lets you learn the customs in other countries, as well as family life. But most importantly, people who work au pair can learn or improve their knowledge of the language spoken in the country where they stay.
We must mention that, like other jobs, au pair has days off, a free day per week and free time for other activities, such as studying.
The good thing about it all is that immigrating to another country to work as au pair gives you the opportunity to meet people from other parts of the world.