Au-pair program in Germany

With an Au-pair program, young people from all parts of the world are given the opportunity to live with a German host family for a certain period of time (usually 6 to 12 months). They get to know the daily family life of their host family, improve their German language skills and get an interesting insight into another culture. The tasks of an Au-pair are mainly in the childcare but also in the occasional assistance in the household, in return, the family provides catering, accommodation, and a pocket money. The Au-pair program is very advantageous and interesting for both parties (host family and Au-pair). An Au-pair is by no means to be regarded as a domestic worker but as a family member.

Requirements for the guest family:

  • Married couples, single parents or unmarried couples with children;

  • At least one parent must be of German nationality or nationality of an EU / EEA state or Switzerland and the mother tongue of the family must be German. If the family speaks German as a family language, an Au-pair may not come from a home country of the host parents;

  • A separate room for the Au-pair within the family home, house must be available;

  • The family must be financially able to pay for the Au-pair/work.

Requirements for Au-pair:

  • Age 18 – 26 years;

  • First-time Au-pair stay in Germany;

  • Be single and have no children of your own;

  • Have at least basic knowledge of the German language. (Provable by a   German certificate A1-Levels or higher, for German-language students please provide a copy of the diploma or study certificate);

  • Experience in childcare

  • Be healthy.

Tasks of an Au-pair

The daily tasks of an Au-pair are very different. They depend entirely on the individuality and the lifestyle of the family that the Au-pair has taken with them.

The everyday life of an Au-pair generally includes:

  • To supervise the younger children, that means, to supervise them and accompany them on their way to the nursery school or school or to certain events, to walk or play with them;

  • To prepare breakfast and simple meals;

  • To perform light housework, to help keep the apartment clean and in order, to wash and to iron the laundry;

  • The house or the apartment helped to guard and to take care of the pets.

  • The nursing and care of the elderly (care of dependent family members) are NOT the duties of an Au-pair!

Rules and conditions of the Au-pair program

Sophie from Zimbabwe, Au-pair-year in Germany: 11.2017 – 11.2018

It was so exciting waiting in the airport to board my plane; I’ll never forget how hard I tried to keep down my smile. It was one moment in my life when I really knew I was doing the right thing. First of all, Germany is absolutely beautiful. I love everything about it: the sights, the people, the food, the language, and the European way of thinking. I dove straight into it and have never regretted it since.

I have gone to Germany because I wanted to improve my language, travel, learning new culture, find new friends and, of course, to experience Germany family life from the inside. I expected this experience to be very different from any experiences I’ve ever had before; and I truly was right about it! I loved every single part of it, even some negative moments I’ve had can’t make me look at it in a different way! It’s probably because I was lucky to get the best host family ever. At first the weather in Germany really confused me. It was cold, snowy and dark. I was not used to it, but after two weeks I was feeling more comfortable. I was taking care of three kids. They were really kind and polite. My duties where tidying up children’s rooms, kitchen , living and dining room every day in the morning and around 2pm the children will come back from school and I will start playing with them till 7pm when they go to bed.

My first vacation was paid, I got a chance to visit Castle Neuschweinstein the most visited Castle in Germany .I visited the castle because it was one of the things I wrote in my dear letter family and I wanted to visit it. I visited many Museums, and I got to tour Germany cities like Frankfurt, Munich and small towns’ .It was an adventurous year. Me and my friend attended Oktober fest in Munich. With my host family we went to vacation with the kids, I’m very grateful to them for taking me with them. It was truly unforgettable. I was taking care of the kids, but at the same time it wasn’t like real work, but more like a vacation to me too. I was especially excited to see more beautiful places in Germany I’ve never even dreamed about having an opportunity to see them, it was more like a fairy tale to me….but it was real.

Improved the language

I got to improve my language a lot by communicating with the children l was taking care of and attending languages courses even though my German was broken at first but as time goes on I improved and I am still improving. In the German class I attended, there were people from all over the world. It was amazing because we all had different backgrounds and different experiences, but we each could speak German, and that was what we had in common. When I was with my friends, I had so much fun. We shared our rough and good au pair experiences. I tried interacting with people as much as I could, even if I wasn’t sure if I can express myself as I wanted to. When I just got to Germany I could barely express myself because I was forgetting the words, and now its better.

How has my Au Pair experience changed me?

The majority of Au Pairs that I know have decided to take on this experience for a variety of reasons, with improving German being the main goal. As an Aupair I was often asked “ why did you choose to come to Germany instead of other countries?” My response “I decided to become an Au Pair in Germany for a number of reasons. I wanted to build character, experience living in a completely different environment, all whilst working with children and meeting new people. I started to see things from another part of the world. I described the world and my life in another language. I loved to see how people in a different culture would describe things, react to things, or deal with situations. I would be tired every night because my brain was working overtime taking everything in and translating every conversation for the entire day. Everyday provided me with opportunities to learn, grow and build character. I learnt about the German culture and the variety of cultures within the country. Not only am I becoming more comfortable with myself, I feel matured, being independent and developing my knowledge on different cultures and ways of life.

I have gained confidence in myself

The thought of going abroad was always on my mind, and that’s where it stayed for many years. Every now and then the urge to travel would set in but I couldn’t see myself actually doing it. That was until I made the first step. Being an Au Pair has given me the confidence to believe in myself. Remember that a family have chosen you from a list of candidates, to provide care for their children. If they have confidence in you, then you should have confidence in yourself.

My outlook on life has changed

Before this experience, I always thought life was about finding a good job and settling down. Now I realize that life is about experiencing as much as possible, taking everything as it comes, putting you out there and finding the positives in all situations. One of the biggest changes that I’ve noticed is my desire to gain experience. I value the experiences I have, the scenes I see, and the people I meet, opposed to having a variety of materialistic items.

I am open to change

This has been a time to test my abilities to adapt to new situations. Moving across the world and changing jobs, I knew that I would need to adapt quickly to the changes. Including living in another home and driving on the opposite side of the road. As a result, I opened my mind and welcomed change to allow myself to adapt to the new situations.
Meeting people with different cultures, beliefs and outlooks has broadened my knowledge and appreciation for how others live. As an Au Pair you will meet a number of people from different countries who share different beliefs to yourself. You will learn to appreciate your own culture and the cultures of others.

I appreciate my friends, family and home country

This experience has made me really appreciate my family and friends back in Zimbabwe. I’ve always heard the saying ‘Distance makes the heart grow fonder’. Now I can identify with this as I haven’t seen my family in over a year and the distance has definitely made me appreciate our relationships. I am grateful for the support they offered me as I embark on this journey.
Above all I have fallen in love with Germany and am planning to stay and see how it goes!

Sophie 05.12.2018

Andile from Zimbabwe, Au-pair-year in Germany: 07.2017 – 07.2018

July 2017 to July 2018 was a challenging fun filled year as an au-pair in Germany playing with a 6 year old boy, travelling around Europe and the exhilarating German amusement parks rides. It’s very hard to compress a year to be a short story. Well I hope the pictures will do justice in showing my German experience. Au-pairs have a lot of free time and most of them would ask me how I managed to tour most of the parts of Europe and do so many activities my answer was the au-pair ID from my au-pair agent. I got to travel on affordable fares using bla bla car. I had challenges in getting used to driving in the small streets of Germany but got the adrenalin rush of driving on the autobahn. I met people from all over the world and got to share ideas. There were times when I felt home sick and my host family was always there for me and they helped me to overcome it. I got to attend the world famous October festival, the Christmas markets, visited Mercedes-Benz museum, Merkers underground mine. I also got the opportunity to visit other European countries as the Visa gives access to more than 25 European countries. I went to France Strasbourg, Switzerland Bern, Zurich, Vevey, Basel and Madrid Spain. I visited a lot of German cities and towns namely Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Baden baden, Bühl, Fulda, Kassel, Reutlingen, Bodensee, Vacha, Friedewald, Heringen and Bad Hersfeld. I do not regret the time I spent as an au-pair in Germany as I got to realise the extremes of cultural differences and I learnt to embrace them. The aupair year experience increased the chances of me being admitted to college in Canada which was a dream come true….

Andile 18.08.2018

Ana from Mexico, Au-pair-year in Germany: 01.2017 – 01.2018

The Au Pair experience in Germany completely changed my way of seeing life. It gave me many joys and incredible experiences.

My family was very good with me at all times, with the babies, many times it was a lot of work, however they always thanked me for the extra time of work.

They are grateful to have shared a year with them and with all the experiences that I shared with my Host Family over time, Jonas and Julius (twins) were complicated most of the time however the daily coexistence made them love me little by little and with the smallest Milla everything was joy and he treated me like her second mother.

Despite not being with them I have them in my heart and I can recommend the Au Pair experience 100%.

Ana 18.03.2018

The factors in favour of becoming an au-pair and against

My own Au-pair experience in Germany (06.2016 – 06.2017)

Becoming an Au-pair was an important decision for me. The things I went through included improving my German skills, collecting a bunch of documents such as recommendations, doing medical examinations, applying for visa and having an interview at the embassy, and of course, having conversations with potential families. All that was totally worth it. During my year in Germany, I’ve learned more than I could’ve possibly done living back home for another couple of years.

Part 1: The main reasons to start seeking for a family right now

  • You learn how to be financially independen

    Unless you already live alone or away from your family, being an au-pair means you take care of your own finances. The money au-pair gets is not enough to buy everything you would like to, so you need to plan your expenses ahead, or otherwise, you will sit in the host family’s house not being able to go out till you get the next paycheck.

  • You learn the language as an insider

    It is considered to be the best way to learn a language when you go to the country where the language is spoken. Little kids may be the best teachers because they speak slowly and they are constantly corrected by adults around them.

    I started by learning the whole vocabulary of my host kid’s (there wasn’t much, he was 3) and helped myself further by listening to my host parents and to the people on the street.

  • You get a German course paid by your host family

    In Germany it is like that: the host family provides you with 50€ per month (600€ all together) for you to attend a course. It is more than enough for one level plus an exam, but if you want to take two levels, you will probably need to pay the difference with your own pocket money.

    I took mine in VHS (Volkshochschule) in Mainz, and I loved it! They have a good testing process and I was lucky to get a fun teacher who I would definitely recommend (Mr. Çifçi).

    It is expensive though. If you finish one course, it doesn’t mean you’re qualified to pass the exam because in the VHS they subdivide levels into A1/1, A1/2, A2/1, A2/2 and so on. They had the whole 4 different parts for B2 level, so I didn’t seem so lucky to get into B2/2 after all.

    Just as a heads-up, Goete exams are usually booked in advance. When I tried to register for a B2 exam, I didn’t find any free spots in the 3 cities near me including Frankfurt.

  • You get acquainted with the foreign cultures

    There are so many different nationalities living in Germany. It wasn’t so easy to find those when living in a Slavic country, like my own. In my German course group there were 16 people from, like, 10 different countries. I’m still friends with some of them!

  • You learn new ways of raising children

    To some extent all the families in one country follow the same pattern, so you never really learn what else is possible to be done.

    I’m talking here, again, from my own prospective. Soviet behaviour in Ukraine has passed on to the next generation and the generation after that. I came to Germany and I was amazed how much differently Germans raise their kids: they supervise but not smother; they explain how things work and help them do it; they give them the freedom to make their own mistakes; they may not believe, but they humour their funny stories; they stand near them, but not above them. All that may sound like something every parent should do, but I’ve got to admit, I never saw the flaws of my own country’s mistakes till I moved to Germany. And I was lucky with my host family being really patient. I learned that quality and I brought it back home.

  • You travel around

    If you live in a different part of the world, it takes a long journey to get to EU. I’m from Ukraine, thus it was not easy for me to just buy a ticket to, let’s say, Poland. I had to get a visa, put enough money on my account, wait a long line to cross the borders, etc. But after getting into EU-zone, I could just jump on the next bus to Paris. Being an au-pair opened a free-pass around Europe for me.

All that is great, right? You see those positive posts all over Internet when you Google ‘au-pair’. But did anybody see the points not to start an au-pair life

Part 2: Things to consider before you start looking for a family

When you live with people you will always have some daily routine issues. So despite all those “negative” aspects I mentioned below, I assure you, my family was one the best I’ve ever heard from other au-pairs, and I owe them SO MUCH!

  • They eat differently

    When you suddenly change your eating habits, it may come as a shock to your body. You have probably experienced that if you ever suddenly jump-started a diet.

    Germany has great bread and trustworthy organic brands of packaged foods, no doubt there. However, eating bread for dinner may not be the best option health-wise. My host family did this every day. Dinner was just bread with a range of cheeses, sausages and spreads. If I hadn’t made a salad, nobody would have. Their breakfast was always muesli. And on weekends my host dad would make a meal mostly consisting of carbohydrates like potatoes, noodles and gnocchi.

    For me, as a person who had been working hard to give up all those carb-enriched eating habits for 2 years, this was not that easy to deal with. The money wasn’t ment to buy my own food, so the host family was nice enough to buy some things for me for weekdays while they were away. Still, we were usually having Abendbrot in the evenings. All I’m saying is that you have to be careful if you have a sensitive stomach.

  • You never have money

    Even though you don’t have to pay for accommodation and food, you still need things like clothes, hygiene items, snacks when you’re out, etc. Those 260 Euros is not really enough to constantly treat yourself. Plus, if you plan on travelling (even for a couple of days), you pretty much waste everything on tickets and hostels.

    Now, I may not be the thriftiest person in the world, but I’ve heard other au-pairs say the same. After all, those who become au-pairs are still young, and when you get to a new country you always want to try things.

  • Your day off has to be away from the house

    That’s amazing to have kids around. They are funny, positive and cute. And they are also annoying when you have a day-off and they wake up and start yelling and running around the house. Or when they wake you up!

    I was running away from the family every time I had a day-off. Not because they were terrible, but because kids don’t really care whether you have a day off or not. They will want you around them, or – if they see you leaving – they will want to go with you. So I left the house early enough and went back quite late, after they went to sleep, so I would actually have the whole day off before I had to start it all over.

  • You may not have many friends at the beginning

    Germans tend to make friends either in school, university or work. If you are just hanging around the host family’s house, children with parents will probably be the only people you know.

    I was craving for some company in that small town we lived in for a couple of months. I felt quite lonely back then. Mr. Grenz was nice enough to send me the contact info of some of the au-pairs nearby. And I made friends with this one girl thanks to him, then – two more during my course, but still, it wasn’t enough.

    Something that really helped me was Couchsurfing website. I started using it when I was travelling and I needed a place to crush in for a night or two. Then somehow via that platform I started finding more and more people in the towns around me, creating events or attending the existing ones. It would’ve been so depressing without Couchsurfing for me there!

  • You live in the place you work in

    In the days when I was working in an office, I was constantly thinking that at 5 p.m. I would finish whatever I was doing and go home to chill. Living with a host family means you already are home, so you don’t actually have to go anywhere. Now, it may sound as nothing bad to you, but to me, as an introvert, I needed to have a safe place where I could relax, but I always had this feeling that I had to be alert in case someone calls me from downstairs.

I repeat, these are just my own thoughts. It all may be completely different for you. But if you are something like me, you should consider my key points before applying for an au-pair position.

Anyways, I want to end on a positive note. The au-pair year was an amazing experience and an incredible way to challenge myself. If you do make this decision, I don’t think you will ever regret it (I never heard anyone say that). GOOD LUCK!

Kseniia 12.02.2018

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