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10 Things U.S. Au Pairs Should Know Before Applying Abroad

If you want to travel abroad but don’t want to incur a lot of expenses along the way then becoming an au pair in a foreign country can be just the ticket you were looking for. Working as an au pair will allow you to travel overseas while also providing a paycheck and a host family, thereby eliminating the usual expenses incurred traveling, as well as placing you with someone who knows the ways of the country. However before you hop aboard a plane and cross the pond there are a few things you need to know:

  1. How long the approval process is – Before you start applying for au pair positions talk to the placement agency you’re using and find out how long it will take to get approved to work abroad. You don’t want to put yourself out of work in the U.S. under the assumption that you’ll be leaving soon just to learn you have to wait several months for approval.
  2. Country entry requirements – You can’t just fly across the ocean to another country and expect to walk right in; many countries have strict country entry requirements that will have to be met before you’re allowed entry. Do your homework ahead of time so you know exactly what you need to do.
  3. The fee your au pair agency will charge – Using a placing agency is the quickest way to find reliable work; however you also need to know ahead of time what kind of placing fee they’re going to charge. Ask this ahead of time so you don’t come into any unexpected surprises.
  4. The role of women differs depending where you’re going – Women in the U.S. have a lot more opportunities than women in some other countries. Being aware that you may be afforded less freedom than you have in the U.S. is important to assimilating into the society well.
  5. Expectations of your host family – Talk to your host family ahead of time and find out exactly what they expect out of you. Get a work schedule from them if you can and ask any and all questions you may have. No question is a bad one – you should have a clear understanding of their expectations before you get there.
  6. Make sure your immunizations are up to date – Traveling to some countries, such as Africa, require certain shots and immunizations before you are cleared to go. Don’t neglect making sure that all of your immunizations are up to date to ward off any exposure to diseases or viruses that aren’t present in the U.S.
  7. What documents you need to travel – Do you need a work visa in the country that you’re going to or do you only need your passport? Where one country may require one set of documents, another may require completely different ones. Stay up to date with all the important documents you need to have on you.
  8. The language barrier goes both ways – While you may be frustrated that you’re having difficulty understanding a foreign language it’s important to remember that they’re probably having difficulty understanding you as well. Make an effort to get a good grasp of their language before you travel.
  9. Your wages – You should know exactly how much you are going to be receiving for compensation and how often you will be paid before signing a contract and flying over to the host family. Get it in writing that way there are no discrepancies.
  10. How long your employment will last – Before determining if a family is a good fit for you make sure that the length of employment matches up with what you want as well. You don’t want to agree to a host family that only wants you for six months when you want to be abroad for a year, and vice versa. You also should check how long your work visa will last and make sure they correspond.

Traveling abroad to become an au pair is a very rewarding experience for those who choose to undertake it, however it requires a lot of work and research before committing. By becoming an au pair you not only will have the opportunity to learn a whole new culture, but you’ll also significantly improve your resume once you return to the U.S.

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