Hanne came to England as an au pair in 2016 and was originally going to stay in Aldershot for one year. But she quickly decided that she wanted to stay a bit longer. She really enjoyed being in England and liked being an au pair. And thankfully, her overall living situation allowed her to stay longer. Today, we’re talking about her au pair experience and what advice she has for anyone considering being an au pair!
What were your reasons to choose the UK as your destination for being an Au Pair?
My original destination was Switzerland, but the family there cancelled right before I was supposed to fly there. I wanted to find another family as fast as possible, and there were a lot of people looking for an au pair in the UK. As I’ve always loved the British culture and there wasn’t really a language barrier, I took my chances with the first family I heard back from. And it turned out I was very lucky with them.
What do you think is the most important trait an Au Pair should have?
Maybe patience and flexibility? The latter especially when dealing with the parents. With the kids, it’s important to be firm and creative. You should have an overall open-mindedness and eagerness to explore new things.
What did you like about being an au pair?
I liked almost everything about being an au pair and enjoyed that the host parents trusted me with all these responsibilities. I felt like I was needed and that I was good at what I did. Gradually winning over the kids’ trust and love was great. And then there were all these amazing people I met from all over the world, the great places (29 different towns in the UK) that I got to visit and the quiet, relaxing and carefree lifestyle in general. I didn’t have to worry about paying bills!
What did you absolutely hate about being an au pair?
I didn’t hate anything, but there were a few things that I found difficult. Communicating with the host parents, especially one of them turned out to be quite challenging. I didn’t always know what they expected me to do. And the fact that I was living in someone else’s house wasn’t ideal, but definitely not as bad as it could have been. I just a had great experience in general.
How have you changed as a person since you moved to Aldershot?
I definitely changed and grew as a person in Aldershot. Living in a country with a different culture and speaking a language that’s not your native language changes everyone. I am much more social and out-going (both in a literal and metaphorical sense) than ever before. I hung out with people whom in other circumstances I wouldn’t even have talked to, and I travelled and explored so many more things than before moving to England. In Finland, I would have just stayed in bed.
What are the things that you know now, but you would have liked to know before the Au Pair year?
I don’t know… Most things that I was surprised by were very positive; how many other au pairs there were in Aldershot, the amount of time not working (I hardly had to do any housework!) and how easy it was to visit other towns. One thing the host family could have mentioned beforehand is how often they expected me to stay with the kids overnight. They were often away on trips abroad for work. By the end of my time with them, I really enjoyed being in charge of the whole house for a while.
If you would be an au pair again, what would you look for in a host family?
An ideal host family should know what an au pair is: a new family member rather than a cheap servant. They should treat you with respect and invite you to join in with family activities. I was very happy with my family, but I met so many people who weren’t. Open communication between the au pair and the family is vital, without that you can’t feel comfortable in their house.
Click here to read about other au pair experiences!