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Being an au-pair
If one year ago somebody had said that I would be working with kids -and enjoining it madly- nobody will have believed it. But I spent the last four month working as an au-pair and I am sure that this job gave me the opportunity of understanding the kiwi culture better than any other job I could have taken, plus giving me a lot of knowledge about children -something useful If one day I decide to be a mother. I am a journalist and after five years writing for a magazine in my home country, Uruguay, I decided to take one gap year just to travel, find new experiences and write about them in my blog (www.hillstoheels.com) Our home tongue is Spanish, so I thought that the ideal was to choose a country were English were the language spoken -this is the language I use when I interview international artists, so improving my vocabulary and pronunciation would be something very useful for my job. Lots of friends recommended me to come to New Zealand. Every year 200 Uruguayan citizens between 18 and 35 years get a New Zealand `s working holiday visa, and in 2011 I turned in one of this lucky ones. To avoid the temptation of talking all the time in Spanish I decided to live with a kiwi family instead of moving with Uruguayan and Argentinian friends. This would be, I told myself, a short-cut in my immersion inside the kiwi culture and habits. There are several ways of finding a native family to be your hosts -small bed & breakfast, for example- but I decided that being an “au-pair” (a nanny that lives inside the house) was the most accurate for the purpose of my travel, because it was going to give me the extra benefit of talking continuously in English with this children -and also being able to teach them some Spanish. Furthermore, the experience was also making me able to save the money of the rent and food, and also earn a little bit that I could use for traveling around the country (I spent it at weekend trips to Coromandel, Taupo, Tauranga, Roturua and Wellington, plus a ten days vacation at South Island) There are several websites specialized in nannys or au-pairs in New Zealand, like www.aupairlink.co.nz, www.nznanny-aupair.co.nz, www.aupairnewzealand.co.nz, www.nanniesabroad.co.nz/au-pair-nz, www.culturalcare.co.nz, and many other else -if you write “au pair” in Google you will see a lot of sites. But I already had an Argentinian friend living in Auckland before I arrived to New Zealand, and she put me trow a kiwi women who has looking for an au-pair for their two kids. I must confess that when I started this job (March 2012) I didn´t know even how to change a nappy. I don´t have kids nor nephews -I am the elder one of three sisters- so my knowledge of kids was very little. They were like ET to me! The first time I put one of them “Time out” -this is the way we call when they are going to have punishment for bad behavior or “being naughty”- he said to me: “I don´t like you”. It was very hard for me to hear that, being as I was so far from my home and my family, but the mother then said me to don´t worry about that and carry on. Actually she thought me so much about kids in the four months I worked for them, that I am sure that if one day I become a mother I will owe her a lot. Maybe it contributed the fact that she herself had been an au-pair ten years ago, in a winter she spend in Switzerland. She also lend-me all her snow equipment during the week that I took off to go to South Island and ski in Queenstown, and she also offered me her van to use whenever I want -but I don´t drive so I never used it. And I can´t explain you how happy I felt the first time one of the kids said to me: “I love you”. Far away from home and my beloved sisters, this two kids were somehow my family, so the sweet words of the boy -and the smiles and cuddles of the one year old girl- were the things that made my days. I learn how important is for them to see you strong but sweet, happy but firm. Because everything is simple when you are playing with songs, making castles with Lego or reading stories, but it is not so enjoyable when you have to teach them to share the toys, to not hit each other, to wait their turn for something. It is not easy because they will never say “Oh yes you are right”. Of course not: they will complain, shout and cry. And you need to show them that you are the boss. That you are in charge. And actually this is good for them, not only because they will learn manners, but also because they will feel safe. Being a nanny also gave me the opportunity to visit parks, museums, streets and do plenty of activities -the parents gave me lots of freedom around the city, the only requisite was, of course, that the activity was interesting for the kids. During several activities I meet some girls -nannys and babysitters most of them- that are now great friends for me. Being a nanny is a common occupation for teenagers and university students, mostly because it is perfectly compatible with studding and also because it is very enjoyable -if you like kids, of course. I have a bachelor degree in Social Communication, and wile I was working as an au-pair I also started developing the Social Media of Edcorp, an international consulting firm specialized in Education in New Zealand. I was also giving some lessons of Spanish as a private tutor, writing free lance articles of tourism to Spanish and Latin America media, and updating my blog as frequently as I can (the blog is in Spanish, but you can find lots of pictures taken by me in this four months around New Zealand) At the beginning I was able to all this activities at the same time, but four months before starting I decided that it was the moment for a change. Even though the experience was great, I wanted my own flat in order of having more independence. And I was also craving for new experiences. So I give the job for one of my Uruguayan friends -she is a kindergarten teacher so she was thrilled with the offer-, I took more hours at the office and I also assumed a new challenge: being the barman of a very gourmet restaurant. Before coming to New Zealand I studied how to be a bartender at Cocktail Club Uruguay (www.cocktailclub.com.uy), one of the most prestiguious schools of my country, but I have no experience, so it is quite a challenge. I will write about this new job in a couple of months, in my next post. Cheers! Carina Fossati
Submitted by: Carina Fossati Date submitted: 2/08/2012 9:32:19 p.m.