I love my job. I will probably never have a job that is this fun, with so few hours and so many perks, ever again in my entire life, and believe me–I appreciate it. Per Austrian law, I work 20 hours a week. For me, that means working Monday through Thursday mornings from 7:30 to 12:30.
I always have Fridays free, which allows me to volunteer at an English language school once a week, leave early for trips, and basically always have a three day weekend. I pay nothing for my room and board, and I receive a monthly stipend, out of which I pay for my cell phone and health insurance. But other than those expenses, my money is all disposable income. Which is pretty awesome, because I live right in the middle of Europe and have a whole year to explore.
Bottom line: If you have a family who follows all the laws and genuinely cares about your well-being, being an au pair is such a fantastic opportunity.
But putting the au pair perks aside, I really love my job.
I love when the two-year-old, Anna Sophie greets me every morning, and then excitedly tells her mom: “Die Molly ist da!“ Or today when she told her dad that I got a bowl for her, and observed, “Molly ist eine liebe Maus” (pretty sure this is high praise, since people call her that all the time…).
I love watching (and participating in) her growing imagination. Today she told me all about how she saw a butterfly in the garden, and it was yellow, and it said “Hallo, Anna!” but then it flew away. I love even more that she called it a “butterflew” because we’re working on past tense right now and she’s actively making connections. Or when she pretends to talk into a banana like it’s a phone, and I hear her imaginary conversation: “Ja! Uh-huh. Spielen mit der Molly. Okay. Tschüss!”
I love when we do the Hokey Pokey, read books together from the library, pretend to go grocery shopping, build with Duplos, play in the garden, go swimming, sing songs, blow soap bubbles…I love when she translates for me, and when she asks for the name of something in English. The exchange always goes like this:
Anna: What’s that one?
Me: That’s a shopping cart.
Anna: That is a shopping cart!
The other day she threw her arms around me and yelled: “THAT IS A HUG!!”
I also love little Nina, the baby. She’s growing at a crazy rate, looking around, lifting her head, wiggling, and making little noises. I love when she falls asleep laying on my chest, or holding onto my finger, because all she really wants is to feel safe and warm, and I made that happen. It’s an amazing feeling.
I love all the experiences that I’m gaining, all the memories I’m making. I love that I have never once questioned my choice to come here (although as a 24-year-old college graduate, I’m definitely older and in a different life-place than your typical au pair).
I don’t want to forget the best part of my year in Europe, the aspect that sets this apart from other traveling experiences: My Austrian family. As I approach five months over here, I’m still just absolutely in love.