The Au Pair


Becoming an Au Pair is quite a popular choice among young, foreign adults to improve their language skills and get to know another culture. Usually people between the ages of 18 and 30 choose to stay with a family for up to a year, being provided food and a room in return for childcare services. Instead of earning a wage the Au Pair receives pocket money from the host parents, which varies in amount from family to family. Au Pair organisations provide guidance and assistance in finding a suitable host family. Some other Au Pairs opt for a cheaper alternative and try to find a host family themselves over the internet. Most of the time a contract between both parties is established to set the parameters of what is expected from one another.


For the majority of the Au Pairs it’s the first time being away from home for such a long duration. Being homesick, dealing with a new environment, language barriers and finding new friends are common challenges they encounter during their stay. One of the most prominent challenges is how to fit into the host family. According to a European agreement in 1969 the Au Pair should be regarded as part of the family.

How can this be realised when the only time the whole family can come together is on the weekend, but this is usually the free time of the Au Pair? How can a stranger become a relative? A fascinating and bizarre relationship subsequently develops.

The text illustrating the portraits is taken out of a conversation with the Au Pair.

© Natalie Pae 2017