Today is the day: a new chapter of your life begins. Life as an au pair. You have left everything behind to start fresh and you cannot wait to meet your host family. After spending some time with your new family, you feel settled in you (hopefully) get along with the family, you have decorated your room, and you have gotten to know the place that you will now call home. And then you wonder: how will I fill my free time?
There is so much to explore when you are in a new country, and it is always fun to have some friends to explore together. When I was an au pair in Sydney, I initially did not know anyone in my neighborhood, but I ended up meeting so many new people and I still have friendships that I am confident are forever. Want to know how I made these friends? Read this blog to find out.
Visit public places with your host kids
When you are an au pair, you spend a lot of your time ‘working’. Because of this, you may think that you will not have a lot of time to meet up with friends. However, this is usually not true! Free time is not necessarily the only time you can meet up with people. Especially in countries where having an au pair is very common, you’ll find many au pairs in parks, playgrounds, on the beach, etc.
Visiting these places with your kids will automatically get you in touch with other au pairs. Don’t be afraid to start a chat with them. There is so much to talk about! Where are they from? What’s their host family like? How do they like the country? These are just some examples, but as you are both au pairs, there is already so much you have in common. Do not forget to watch the kids while chatting. I met a lot of other au pairs like this, whether it was just for a short chat or we ended up exchanging numbers and having a coffee later on. This is such an easy way to meet new people!
Ask your host family if they have friends that host au pairs
More often than not, your host family will have friends with kids. And if you are lucky, they have an au pair too. I met some fellow au pairs at one of my host kids’ christening where a lot of family friends came to. As these people were the only others that were my age, it was so easy to connect with them and we talked for the entire day. Again, you and other au pairs will have such a great shared interest, enough to already be a good base for a friendship.
Maybe you can organize a playdate together with the other au pair, for example by taking all of the kids for a fun day out. This, of course, has to be discussed with both your host families but they will probably find it a great idea as it allows the kids to make some new friends too! Being able to spend a day of ‘work’ together with another au pair makes the day even more fun! You can share all your creative ideas with each other. Maybe the other au pair has been on some really fun day trips with the kids, or maybe he/she has great ideas about what to do on a rainy day.
Facebook is your best friend!
This probably sounds weird or unnatural, but as an au pair, Facebook is an effective platform to meet new people. Many cities have their own au pair Facebook groups. These groups are not only being used by families to find their new au pair but also by au pairs to get in touch with fellow au pairs. You’ll often find messages like ‘Hey, anyone in … who wants to hang out or grab a drink?’. Respond! Meet up with them for coffee. It’s just a coffee, if you don’t like them, you never have to see them again.
If you do, you have found yourself a new friend that you can hang out in your spare time. You have nothing to lose! It is always fun to meet a stranger, and talk to them about your interests, your new life, and your host family. You can ask them many questions about their au pair life as well, or ask them for advice. I posted something in a Facebook group for au-pairs in Sydney and immediately got 10 responses. I was definitely not the only one who was keen to make some friends!
I met up with a few of them and ended up meeting a girl who I now see as one of my best friends. We still meet up almost every week (we found out that in our hometown we only live 15 minutes away from each other, how crazy is that!) and it is so amazing to have someone to talk to about your experiences as an au pair. You never know who you will meet and that’s what makes it fun and exciting!
Don’t be afraid to go somewhere by yourself
It is of course also a lot of fun to meet people that are not au pairs. Maybe you want to meet some locals or some fellow travelers. My number one advice for you is: do not hesitate to go out by yourself. This probably sounds like something you wouldn’t normally do, but it’s a great way to meet new people.
Being alone makes you much more approachable than being together with someone. It makes it easy for people to start a conversation with you. And don’t worry you are not the only solo traveler. There are many people like you who are also keen to make some friends. I have to admit that at first, I also found it quite awkward to be alone in bars or cafes, but there is nothing weird about it!
For example, one time I went to a café to have a coffee and ended up talking to the girl who was sitting next to me because we were both writing postcards. Another time I went to a bar where I knew were a lot of backpackers and I ended up having a great night! These are just some examples of the opportunities you are being given when you’re by yourself. Oh, and don’t forget that you don’t always have to be together with other people. Sometimes it can be very nice to be on your own as well, especially when you have to watch kids running around all day!
I have a friend who has a friend who has a friend…
This sentence really accurately describes how making friends works. Once you meet someone you like, they know some people, who know some people, who know some people. You will end up hanging out with a bunch of people you’ve never met before. Especially when you’re abroad it can be so much fun to meet people who are also traveling from all over the world. It also gives you a chance to meet some locals, which is interesting as well.
Making one friend can be the beginning of meeting a large number of people that will eventually become friends too. When you already have a group of friends, do not hesitate to ask your new friend to come with you when you are making plans with the group. Of course, you don’t always have to do this, but it is a very nice and welcoming attitude that you would like others to have as well. Don’t you?
Be an active au pair!
This is probably the most important advice of all. If you want to meet new people, get out there! Be open-minded, interested, and chill, and you will find new friends in an instance. If you make it hard for yourself, it will become hard.
You are not alone, there are many travelers like you who are new to the country and don’t know anyone yet. They appreciate it just like you when someone comes up to them and starts a conversation. It might feel like a big step, but it’s worth it. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just do it!
I hope this blog has taught you something about the many different ways of making new friends when you are an au pair abroad. The possibilities are endless! The main message is that it is easier than you think. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and show the world your awesome personality, I’m sure that many people will appreciate you for who you are.
Making new friends abroad gives you amazing opportunities to meet people from all over the world. You will learn about different cultures, but also about the country that you are in. My last advice would be: stay true to yourself and have the best time! Nanny Nina also offers an au pair service. Take a look at the website to find out more about it!
Frequently asked questions about an au pair
How long can an au pair stay?
The Dutch government allows an au pair to stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of one year.
What does an au pair’s work schedule look like?
An au pair can work for a maximum of 30 hours per week. A week consists of a maximum of five days. However, an au pair’s working day can also be on the weekend. A maximum of 8 hours may be worked per day. An au pair can also work in the evenings up to three times a week. In addition, the au pair is entitled to two days off per week. Once a month these days off should be on the weekend.
What is an au pair?
An au pair is someone from abroad between the ages of 18 and 31 who lives with the host family for a certain period, up to a maximum of one year, as a cultural exchange. She’s here for the exchange. In exchange for board, lodging and pocket money, the au pair supports the care of the children and some light household tasks.