Au Pair Feedback

September 27, 2013

It’s that lovely time of year again when we hear from au pairs and families about how their placements have started off. Here are the stories from two au pairs who have recently started their placements in the UK.

Firstly, we wanted to share with you the full PowerPoint presentation created by Dutch au pair Maartje, one of the winners of our recent competition.

The following slides cover the first month of her placement in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey.

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Alex from France is currently placed in Penn, Buckinghamshire. Here is what she has to say about her placement so far:

All is perfect!!!!! I am really happy here. I have a lovely hostfamily, I found a news friends, I take english courses and I improve my english: the paradise!!!! Thank you for all.

Alex also shared these lovely photos of her time in the UK to date:

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After all of the hard work that goes into the search process and organisation for the au pair’s arrival, by our agency, the host family and the au pair herself, it is great to hear wonderful success stories like these.

Please continue to send us feedback on your placements :)


Competition Winners Announced!

September 24, 2013

We launched two competitions during our Au Pair Introduction Day in London earlier on this month. In order to enter, au pairs were asked to send a comment or photo to summarise or represent their placement with their UK host family so far. Two prizes of £50 in Amazon vouchers were on offer and our winners are as follows…

Comment competition winner: Maartje from the Netherlands, who is currently placed in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

Maartje sent us a PowerPoint presentation to describe her placement so far, but it was the following comment in particular that we felt summarised the au pair program as a whole:

This is the house where I first arrived on Friday the 23th of August. The family did everything they could to make me feel welcome. And boy, did I feel welcome! In these first few weeks, I have been visiting London and making lots of new friends to make my stay in the UK even better! The children: this is the best part of being an au pair. Getting to spend lots of time with in my case, two beautiful young boys. We are very good at being serious but we are even better at acting silly. All of us are. Even though, they sometimes drive me crazy… this family, puts a big smile on my face! So this house is no longer my host family’s house, it’s our house now. It’s a place I call my home’.

Maartje's host family gave her a very warm welcome!

Maartje’s host family gave her a very warm welcome!

Photo competition winner:  Lena from Germany, who is currently placed in Fleet, Hampshire.

Lena sent us quite a few photos of her day out in London but this one was our favourite. A photo with the iconic red telephone box is a ‘must have’ for all au pairs :)

The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena

The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena

Congratulations to both girls and thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Here are some further excellent entries that we received:

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If you would like to share your experiences of the au pair program at any time, please contact us on aupairs@smartaupairs.com. We love to hear your stories!


Getting to know our partner agencies

September 22, 2013

We are often asked how we find, screen and prepare our candidates for the Au Pair in Australia program.

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We do this with help from our trusted partner agencies in the country where the au pair comes from.

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This means that the au pair gets guidance and preparation for the au pair experience in her own language and with a thorough understanding of her culture and of the destination she is travelling to. It is thanks to their dedication to the Au Pair in Australia program that we have such great au pairs and that we can continue to grow the program whilst maintaining our high quality.

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Last week, the World Youth & Student Travel Conference took place in Sydney and many of our partner agencies visited Sydney for this conference. The team at Smartaupairs wanted to make them feel very welcome as these agencies had travelled such a long way to get here.  We invited our agencies to visit our office, mingle with our team and see a bit of Sydney on the way.

Thank you to Anna, Patricia, Stephanie and Matthias from Germany, Joan from Denmark, James from the USA and Simona from the Netherlands for taking time out, hope you enjoyed your visit!


My first two weeks as an au pair

September 19, 2013

Mia, 19, is from Denmark and on 27th August 2013, she joined her host family in London.

She wanted to share with us the experience of her first two weeks with her host family as she has had such a great time and found them to be particularly welcoming.

Here’s what she had to say:

“On the 27th of August I went on the plain to London, it was my first time alone on a plane, so I was quit nervous. My mom drove me to the airport, where she said goodbye,  we hugged and I cried a little. It was a weird feeling to say goodbye, but at the same time I new that my stay in London would be a really good adventure!

My host mom and her child, Aiden who is almost 5 years old,  were waiting for me at Heathrow Airport in London, they had brought me flowers and Aiden had made me a ‘’welcome card’’ with glitter for me. Really sweet of him. When we got to the car I went to the right side, but then my host mom asked me if I wanted to drive, and then I looked into the car and saw that I was standing at the drivers side. I laughed and said no! I quickly went to the left side instead. It is so weird that everything is opposite when it comes to the traffic, but you get used to it very quickly.

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When we got to the house in Brixton, we got some champagne, Aiden got children´s champagne, to celebrate me coming to London. We sat down at the kitchen table and got something to eat, we talked and it was really nice. It was a bit late and Aiden had to go to sleep, so I gave them my presents, I had brought from Denmark, before he went to bed. My host mom got Medusa cupcakes (danish design) and Aiden got playmobile pirates. They loved their presents and we had so much fun playing with it, Aiden almost started crying that is how much he laughed.

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The next day My host mom and Aiden took me around Brixton, so I could see how it was. I saw all the nice stores, the Brixton Village with a lot of really nice food and and restaurants. We also sat down to get a bite of food and later we got Italian ice cream. I also got to see the cinema and the library, where we went to read some books. Aiden really likes the library and he didn’t want to leave, so his mom allowed him to take out some books. Later when Aiden was at his dad’s house, the girls from across the street knocked on our door and they gave us some birthday cake. Really nice of them! Me and my host mom then went to make coffee and hot chocolate. Afterwards I went to unpack my stuff.

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Thursday was my first day alone with Aiden, it was really fun, we played a lot of board games, read a lot of books and played with his new pirates. He is so easy, and I’m so glad that I don’t have big problems with him. We also read a Planes magazine, because at 14.00 we were going to the cinema to see Planes. My host mom met us there, and it was a really nice activity to do together and I love going to the cinema.

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On my first Friday my host mom had a party for me, where she invited the neighbours and some of her friends. It was really nice to meet all these new people, I also got to meet one of my host mom’s friend’s au pair, which was really nice. Me and Aiden had made cupcakes for the party, it was really fun, and he loves to help in the kitchen. We had a really good time decorating them.

Saturday Aiden was at his dad’s house, so me and my host mom went to the Brockwell Park to play rounders with some of her friends (The park is also the perfect place to go for a run). It was so much fun, everybody  was so sweet. It was so lovely to get out and see the park, and to play around with a group of grown-ups! We made two teams, Team Lohan and Team Britney. I was on Team Lohan and we won! After the game we went home to the people who planned it all, we got something to drink, eat and I got to taste Pimm’s, which is a popular drink in the UK. Afterwards me and my host mom went to see Siro-A, which is a group of six performers, who dance and mime with a lot of really cool video, light and sound effects.  After that my host mom showed me China Town and The Ritz.

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 Tuesday was Aiden’s first day at school. He looks so cute in his uniform. His school is only 5 min. away, so it is really easy to follow him to it. Tuesday was a really hot day, so when Aiden got home, we had a water fight, everyone got really wet, but it was so much fun.

Wednesday I joined the gym, it is a really good gym and it has a swimming pool! At the evening we went to a Portuguese restaurant with my host mom’s parents, they are really sweet, and her father is so funny.

Thursday we went to a park after school with a really nice playground. My host mom invited a mom and her three kids back to our house for a playdate. (Her middle child is in the same class as Aiden). The two girls from across the street came over as well. While Aiden had been at school I had filled up his swimming pool, so all the kids just went in it.

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All the kids splashed water at me, it was so much fun and a really good day. In the evening I went to football practice for the first time, I had been searching online for a club I could play in, so I could keep playing football. I met some really nice girls from the area, they were all very welcoming and friendly. Sometimes after practice they go to a bar for a drink, so I think it is a really good way to meet people and to get out and experience new stuff.

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On my second weekend  me and my host mom went to Bray near Maidenhead to visit a friend of hers. We went out for dinner at the Heston Blumenthal’s place, where we got some really delicious food, a couple of good drinks and afterwards I went clubbing with his daughter and her friend. We had such a good time, and it was fun to see how they do it in the UK. It’s a little bit annoying that the clubs close earlier than what I’m used to in Denmark, but luckily we had a blast anyway.

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I have no problems with my host-family, the kid is so easy and it is very rare he gets mad or starts crying. For the most it’s when he has lost a game against his mom! I’m already starting to feel like a part of the family, and I’m so glad that I haven’t felt homesick yet. Of course I miss them all back in Denmark and sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on stuff, but I already know that this year will be so special and I will get so many new experiences, which I wouldn’t get back home. I have already made a lot of plans with other au pairs, and I can’t wait to see more of London and go on new adventures with them.

Mia

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Buckinghamshire – Au Pair & Host Mums Meeting!

September 16, 2013

“12 au pairs and 10 host mums met last night at the welcome meeting. Most were Smart au pairs families. We had a great time. I hope you enjoy the pictures! Lindsey”

Lindsey has been a smartaupairs host mum for several years now and is among many host families we currently have in Buckinghamshire!

We think it is a great idea to get the other host mums and au pairs together – see the pictures from the event below:

Buckinghamshire host families

Buckinghamshire host families

Buckinghamshire au pairs

Buckinghamshire au pairs


Smartaupairs Introduction Day 2013

September 16, 2013

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Every September, the Smartaupairs UK team organises an Introduction Day for au pairs who have recently started their placements.

This year, we were joined by just over 100 au pairs! The purpose of the Introduction Day is to recap on some of the basic information about being an au pair and to help the au pairs to meet friends and make the most of their time in the UK.

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As an example, the topics we covered included:

  • advice on practicalities, such as registering with GP/opening a bank account
  • how to deal with homesickness
  • the importance of good communication with the host family
  • ideas for entertaining the children
  • how to find friends

We were also joined by Tom from International Friends who spoke about the day trips and weekend tours that they offer at a discounted price for our au pairs!

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Afterwards we were joined by many au pairs at a local bar. This proved to be a great opportunity for them to get to know each other in a less formal setting.

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The Smartaupairs team thoroughly enjoyed meeting the au pairs at our Introduction Day and we hope that all those who attended found it useful!


Pleasure to meet James from New York

September 13, 2013

This week is the WYTEC conference in Sydney and I am looking forward to meet some of our key partner agencies from Europe and the US face to face. It’s always great to have a chance to discuss our plans for the Au Pair programs in more detail.

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James from InterExchange Working Abroad travelled in a few days earlier and made time to visit our Sydney Office. InterExchange is a nonprofit organisation with more than 40 years experience connecting young people from all over the world with life-changing cultural exchange opportunities. We also work with InterExchange for our Au Pair in the USA Gapyear program.

He told me that Australia and New Zealand are increasingly popular destinations for Americans who want to work and gain experience overseas. We talked about au pair screening and preparation, our Australian host families and what more we can do to attract young people from the US to the Au Pair in Australia program.

Thanks for your time James, great to have such a professional partner recruiting on our behalf!

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If you are an Australian family thinking about hosting an au pair, go to www.smartaupairs.com.au

If you are a family in Britain, find out more here www.smartaupairs.com


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