Just shortly after graduating university I jetted off to embark on an adventure to Barcelona, Spain. Since I was low on money and high on passion I was more then ready to go to another country, live with complete strangers and nanny for a Catalan family. Since this was my first trip on my own where I would be working, I searched for ideas of what to do. I had heard about Aupair-ing, which is working five days a week for a family; teaching children english and doing light house work. In exchange, you get a little bit of money, a room, and meals. I had been a nanny before in California so it seemed like an easy way to experience the Spanish lifestyle I had been dreaming of.
How to find a family:
-Website used: aupairworld.net (FREE)
-Pay: 75 Euros per week, plus room & board
-Money Spent: 3,000 used during the 3 months
After doing some research about companies that pair you with host families (that charge you & the host family a $1,000 USD fee) versus the FREE website aupairworld.net where you and the family find each other online. I decided to go with the free option. Although there is a slight risk with this, as you and the family do not need to get background checked on the website, I felt I read enough to go through with it, disregarding the risk. I set up my profile, exaggerating my knowledge of Spanish and teaching, and I found two families that seemed like a good fit.. I skyped with both of them and one of them seemed to work better then the other. Shortly after mutually accepting each other, we discussed further details and I bought my plane ticket! I asked if they wanted to do a contract and they said that my plane ticket was sufficient. I asked for photos of their ID’s to keep my parents less stressed. They ended up getting it police checked without my permission. Fortunately, all was cleared and my folks were a little less apprehensive to send their daughter abroad after that.
**MAJOR SIDE NOTE: I later found out that one of my best friends was going to Aupair in Italy meanwhile I’d be in Barcelona. She had found her host family through a company and paid the $1,000 USD fee, in which she later regretted since she had the same experience as I but with paying a fee. She was uninformed and said she would have chosen the free option.
1.) Do I need to know the Language of the country that I want to AuPair/teach in?:
If you are questioning doing any kind of job abroad because of language barriers STOP this idea immediately. People around the world are desperate for native english speakers. We have a huge advantage so we need to use it. Especially with any kind of nanny or teaching job abroad, they actually prefer you to speak just english because it means that you will only speak english to the kids. Plus, there are plenty of options out there for you to grasp the basics on the language. My go-to is Duolingo, an phone application that I do for Spanish whenever I am bored, on the train, or waiting in line its an easy way to learn.
2.) How much money did you save for your trip?:
Prepping for the trip I saved as much money as I could since I knew I would only be paid a little each week and I wanted money to travel and have fun. Since it was my last semester of college I was taking less units and had more time to work. I worked as a nanny and as a behavioral therapist for kids with Autism (my usual job) during school part time, and full time while I was not in school. I managed to save $4,000 USD from work and graduation presents. I felt at ease knowing that I would make at least a little money each week so that I would not completely run through my savings. Luckily, I ended up spending only $3,000USD and went on three trips during the three months, ate out constantly, and shopped a lot. Therefore, it is possible to do it cheaper!!! Since this trip, I have become much more frugal with my money and I only splurge on occasions.
3.) What did you pack/need for the AuPair life in Barcelona?:
As for packing for the trip, I packed lots of summer clothes, as it gets very hot in Barcelona during summer. I also brought tons of going out outfits, considering that the Spanish know how to party and stay up VERY late. However, my day to day nanny outfits consisted of clothes appropriate enough to be around the family in, but shorts and tank tops were fine considering that they did not have air-conditioning in their house. I brought lots of bathing suits for work and play, I had to invest in a nanny friendly bathing suit, since I was lucky enough to live by the beach. Lastly, bring a weekend getaway bag plus a compact sleeping bag for when sleeping on the floor of your friends hotel room (yes I have shamelessly done this a few times). Things not to bring are high heels, because you walk everywhere on cobblestone, mine were all untouched for 3 months.
Lastly, stay tuned for Part 2 Barcelona where I talk about my experience of being an Au Pair- and how I balanced work and play.