This post has been weeks in the making now. Moving to a new country can take a lot of unexpected turns and has kept me pretty busy. Time has flown by and I can't believe it's already been a month since I arrived in Le Vesinet, a little suburb of Paris, and started working as an au pair for a French family. This still doesn't feel like real life...
I never thought I'd actually be an au pair, but I'm so glad I made this decision. I was lucky enough to find the most caring family with two adorable kids who I already love getting to spend time with. I work 5 days a week, mostly in the evenings and during the day on Wednesdays when the kids get off school early. I pick them up from school by car in the afternoon, and watch them till their parents get home in the evening, plus some occasional babysitting and driving to different activities after school. I've learned that drivers in France are much more impatient and even aggressive than in the U.S. but I'm just glad my host family has an automatic car for me to drive (thanks to the first au pair who couldn't drive a manual). Driving here makes me feel like a real local and listening to the radio in French (even if I don't understand all of it) I'm hoping will improve my listening skills, and I don't mind some popular French music either.
Since the kids I'm taking care of are slightly older (10 and 12) they're pretty independent, but I help them with their English homework and always make sure they get their goûter after school because they couldn't go a day without it. Every night of the week they like to watch this French soap opera on TV. So at 7:25 everyday you can find me watching and trying my hardest to understand, Demain Nous Appartient, since we can't even get the French subtitles to work. Their parents work later than most would in the U.S. and they usually don't get home till 7 or 8, then we eat dinner together after that. Every night with our meal we have a baguette and a whole spread of different kinds of French cheese. That's something I could get used to pretty easily, and we always have either a fruit or yogurt right after dinner and then the kids are off to bed and I'm free for the rest of the night. La vie d'une fille au pair.
I love getting to live with a host family to really know how locals live in France. It's such an unique opportunity for this to be my day to day life, and getting to live so close to Paris it couldn't be much better. It's about a 20-30 minute train ride away, depending on where you go in Paris and if there's any delays, which unfortunately I've experienced quite a few of already. I seem to have the worst luck with the RER train system, and you never know when there could be problems, but I still love getting to take the metro and RER everyday, and getting to know it so well I feel more like I really live here because I know where I'm going without checking maps on my phone every minute.
My French language classes have finally started at a language school in Saint Germain en Laye. I've been anxious to start to meet new people and improve my French speaking skills. While I've been speaking a little French so far, I hope to be basically fluent before I leave here. My host family is eager to help me learn and patient when I make mistakes, which I definitely make a lot of. I've been told after a few months it should really start to click and I'll be able to easily carry on a conversation. I just hope I can start moving up my French level soon and that people here won't feel the need to switch to English when they hear my American accent. Pouvez-vous parler en francais s'il vous plait.
I've been lucky to already have met several au pairs who live close by me and that are attending the same language school as me. I don't know what I'd do without Facebook groups for meeting other au pairs and people living in Paris. Everyday I'm still meeting new people from my school and making new friends along the way. It's hard to tell if life will ever really feel settled down here, but it's an exciting journey and experience so far. And living as an EU resident, which my visa finally proves, I get a lot of perks and free entry to museums, something I'll definitely be taking advantage of and pretending that I'm a real European citizen (and hopefully speaking like one) for as long as I can.
For more info on how to become an au pair and for help throughout the process check out aupairohparis.com which has helped me out a ton! Don't know what I would have done without their help and support before and after moving to France.