• Work and Travel
Posted 03/12/2019

Why I Became an Au Pair

How I decided to work and live abroad in the USA

By Sophie Schirmer

In 2016, I decided to become an au pair. I wanted to do something more with my life. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I was lucky to have 2 friends who had done this experience before me. Seeing and hearing their experiences was great—and it gave me the idea and the confidence to do it myself.

I had always enjoyed taking care of children. I was a nanny for my brother and his wife. I helped take care of their 3 girls. I was also a dance teacher—I would teach 4 days a week. And I taught a vast age range from 3 to 20 years old. So, I was very prepared for what an au pair experience might hold.

Another part of becoming an au pair that I wanted to experience was a different culture. Growing up watching tv and watching movies, you see things that are only in America. From the yellow busses, to the way they drive on the other side of the road, to how they sit on the other side of the car. There where all these things that made me want to go and see how they live.

Once I decided to be an au pair, I started to think of all the things that would happen and come out of it. I thought the idea of living with “strangers” would be interesting. I was hesitant about a few things before I matched with my host family. I often wondered how it would go living in someone else’s house. But it was so easy when I got there. After I made my room my own, it felt like I had been there forever. I found it really nice—and when you have a wonderful family, it makes the world of difference.


Another big thing was meeting new people. It was always fun to meet new people. Even if they weren’t au pairs themselves. Meeting people from where you lived was great, as they knew all the best places to hang out. And meeting other au pairs is great too, as it gives you someone to talk to—especially if they have children similar in age as yours.

One of the big things that I thought would be cool is traveling around America. You find yourself already on this adventure, living in a different country that you have seen on TV growing up, but to go and explore it was amazing. Seeing things that you only dreamed of seeing was just the best. I was just like my friends who were au pairs before me—going to all these places was just incredible. It just showed me that I can do anything.

Since coming home, I feel like I have really changed! Becoming an au pair has made me a better person as the experience has taken me way out of my comfort zone. I have a whole new attitude and outlook on life. I have become more confident, and I’m not afraid to do anything anymore. When I was overseas, I had to do more for myself. If I wanted anything or needed anything, I had to go and do it for myself and not rely on someone else to do it for me. One of the biggest things I have found that has changed for me is that I have more patience. I always had it, but since being in a whole new environment, I had to learn a new way of having patience—something as simple as waiting for the traffic lights to change, or waiting in line. These things were a bit different to my home. Things took longer. Also, I had to have lots of patience with the children. Being with a 2-year-old all day, I really had to be patient with her because she was still learning.

I really enjoyed my au pair experience; it was the best decision I ever made. Looking back at it all, it was just filled with happy memories. It is something that I will never forget.

I'm Sophie, I'm 23 years old from Australia and I'm a former au pair (2017-2018) I was based in California, and I looked after 3 girls. I loved living the American dream of sand, sea and surf. I loved to explore all America had to offer. One of my favourite things was to hang out at target and spend all my money.
A line drawing of a gumball machine

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