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Top Tips for an Au Pair and Study Course

Peniscola

Author: Kassie Manderson

Having already completed a year as a nursery nurse, Kassie travelled to Valencia to be an au pair along side studying Spanish at language school. She has since returned to the UK having gained in confidence, and developed her experience of working with children. She has returned to her training as a nursery nurse where, at interview, her time abroad was highlighted as stand out feature in her CV helping her stand out in a field of applicants.

5th October 2021

3 minutes

What made you book an Au Pair and Study Course?

I thought it was a great opportunity and a chance to do something different. It would give me the chance to be independent and develop new skills to apply to daily life when I returned home. I wanted to push myself to find a new level of confidence.

What were your first impressions of the family when you met them on Zoom? 

I met the mother and the children as the father was at work. They seemed lovely. The mother’s English was very good! We chatted about the schedule I would have and we each asked questions of each other. The family had 2 children, a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. I met the daughter on zoom but the son was running round the house enjoying himself and playing with his toys. The daughter was very shy and didn’t really want to talk but she sat beside her mother and listened. She was sweet! 

Chicas

Excursions with the other language school students were amazing! There were so many places to go and things to see. 

Were you nervous about anything?  

Travelling independently for the first time can be scary and nerve racking! Remembering all your luggage making sure you haven’t left anything in the airport toilets (that would be embarrassing!). There was a lot of paperwork to have in preparation for my trip to Spain and I mean A LOT as I went during Covid. Making sure I had it all in the right order for when I needed it in the airport was very stressful but I managed. It helped to have a folder all laid out in the right order and clearly labelled.  

Meeting the family and making sure I gave the right first impression also made me nervous. Will they like me? Will my Spanish be enough to get past introductions? What was the Spanish phrase for ‘how are you’ again? Ca Va? No definitely not, that’s French! Arghhhh!

I was fine. The parents were lovely and so were the children, they treated me as a guest at first but eventually I became part of the family. Panic over!

What aspect of the trip challenged you the most? 

Speaking in Spanish challenged me the most. Knowing when to use the right tense when speaking Spanish was difficult. In the classroom it’s a little easier as your teacher helps you and can understand you even if you make a mistake. Whereas out in the city when you’re on your own or with friends it can be more difficult (but not impossible) as most of the local people don’t speak any English so it’s important to know what you are talking about in order to get your point or whatever you are trying to say across. Make sure to speak clearly! I had the habit of mumbling if I knew I messed up or if the nerves got the better of me.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

The highlight of my trip was getting the chance to experience a different culture and lifestyle for a few months. Also the chance to be more independent and not rely on others so much. I met loads of new friends from all across Europe who I am still in touch with. 

What top tip would you give to someone preparing to take part in the Au Pair and Study course?

The top tip I would give to someone preparing to take part in the Au Pair and Study course would be make the most of your time being there. Take up as many opportunities as you can. Also try and use your Spanish skills as much as possible when you are out. Ask for the bill in Spanish. Order in Spanish. Ask for directions. Chat with the children. It starts to come more naturally, the more you try.

Do you feel that your Spanish has improved? 

I feel like my Spanish has improved a lot. I did Spanish for GCSE but before my trip I had forgotten so much, however, now I feel so much more confident in speaking and writing. I found that I could understand when someone is talking to me in Spanish but found it difficult to respond whereas now I can actually respond to them correctly and with confidence.

Would you recommend this trip to a friend?

 I would definitely recommend this trip to a friend as I think it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s different from other experiences you may get the chance to undertake in the UK. My question if you got the chance would be “why wouldn’t you?!”

Did you meet new people and are you still in touch? 

I met a lot of new people from around the world through the international school I went to. I’ve made friends with people from Germany, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, and the Netherlands.  The majority of us within our friendship group have stayed in touch and we have all promised that we will visit each other in our own countries. We also had the idea that we would all do a reunion in Valencia in a couple of years’ time.

Has the course helped you since you came back to the UK?  

The course did help me since I’ve been back in the UK. It’s given me a lot of independence and confidence and I know its cringey but I feel like a can do anything that life throws at me in terms of tackling challenges and overcoming fears or doubts I may have along the way.

Do you think you will re-visit Valencia? 

 Absolutely! The city was beautiful and there was so much that I didn’t get the chance to do first time round and the things I did do, I would happily do them again.

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