Four of Campbell’s demi au pair students share their experiences and wisdom about travelling to New Zealand to study and work while living with a Kiwi family. (Click on their names below.)
Demi Au Pair – (Derived from French – Demi = ‘half’ / Au Pair = ‘equal to’. English pronunciation: /oʊˈpɛər/) is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, demi au pairs work part-time, up to 20 hours a week, to take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a monetary allowance for personal use as well as free food, accommodation and transport costs to school and back.
Jenny is only 23 years old when she visits New Zealand for the third time. She first came after she graduated high school in Germany and spent seven months in New Zealand as a demi au pair.
Unfortunately, Jenny wasn’t very lucky with her first family. She had a discussion with Cathy, Campbell Auckland’s demi au pair coordinator, who took her problems seriously. “I know I was very lucky with my change of family. It was quick and easy. Cathy was a great help!”
If you want to be a demi au pair, Jenny has some advice for you: “I really think the most important thing is that you are open-minded. Just go with it and try everything. It makes it much easier for you and also your host family.” Already having some experience with children is necessary, in her opinion, as well as having a certain level of English. “You need to be able to communicate with the children. They have to listen to you and understand what you want to tell them. And also join the family! If they go somewhere and invite you – go for it. By doing that, you will learn much more about the culture and the Kiwi way of life.”
Jenny’s second family was so great that she is now back in New Zealand to visit them – for the second time. “I really like my host family and I just love the two girls.” New Zealand has become her second home and is very special to her. “I had an amazing time here. I met many great people, with many of whom I am still in touch with. I traveled a lot. I saw so much cool stuff. I just love the flora and fauna. And I also learned quite a lot here, New Zealand and my time here kind of changed me. It made me stronger, I got more confident, independent and also more mature.”
For Jenny, the time she spent in New Zealand was awesome. “I can’t even put into words what New Zealand means to me. It’s just something really special and amazing. It’s the thing you can only do once in a lifetime.”
Written by Melanie Andre, a Campbell Advanced student, who started her English course in January 2017 and had a chance to interview our returning demi au pair Jennifer Franz and write about Jenny’s experience as part of a class project.
Being in the demi au pair programme was a new experience for me. The advantages for me were living in another country, to get to know the culture, improve my English and stay with a host family.
If you are interested in being a demi au pair, you must do your research about the country, the weather, and the things you can do in your free time, etc.
But the most important research is about the family and kids you’ll take care of. Ask many questions about everything, because you are going to live with them for a while, you have to be prepared for the change, be flexible with an open mind and be tolerant of new things, because sometimes the differences between countries create a culture shock. Also caring for children sometimes takes more time than you think.
But that doesn’t mean you always stay at home. That’s why you have days off and free hours to enjoy your stay in New Zealand!
The great advantage of going abroad and staying with a Kiwi family as their demi au pair is having someone who introduces you to this completely new culture. Arriving in a country 20,000 km away from home and knowing somebody is waiting to show you around and wanting you to be part of their family is one of the best feelings. After some time the children will have adapted to you and soon you will appreciate all the little things, like receiving a picture they painted as a way of expressing their love towards you.
But on the other hand, there are some major disadvantages you have to take into consideration before applying for a job as a demi au pair. Living with an unknown family brings up some problems, such as a different eating culture or the usage of bathroom. You need to keep in mind that this new house you are living in isn’t yours and a family shares their most intimate place with you. Perhaps you won’t be able to go out as often as you wish, have to clean up after other people even though it’s not your ‘working time‘.
It’s not easy to live and work in the same place and you should be aware of this fact before choosing this way of staying in a foreign country.
To finalise my decision of coming to New Zealand, I interviewed a friend who completed a similar programme through the same agency. She advised me to stay as long as possible in this beautiful country and additionally, she recommended Campbell as one of the best language schools she’s ever been to. With this knowledge, I felt safe choosing Wellington as the destination for my gap year and I don’t regret my decision to come here as a demi au pair at any point.
For me the biggest advantage of being a demi au pair is to be part of a family. It helps reduce the stress of going to another country, so far away from my own country, with a different culture, different habits etc.
Being in a family can help you to get to know more about the differences between your home country and where you might want to stay for a long time.
Personally, I can talk to my family if I have a question or a problem and they can help me. You can’t really feel homesick because you are never really alone. Your family will probably ask you to join them in their activities.
The disadvantage of being a demi au pair is that you only have limited free time. It’s because you work and live in the same place so sometimes it’s difficult to know when you have to work and when it’s time off. However, you also want to pass time with your family because you want to be friends with them, and not just finish your work and go out with your own friends or stay in your bedroom. For me, the most difficult thing is to find a balance between your own time and time you share with your family.