Sorry for the delayed updates on Spain/Portugal--I swear they are coming. With pictures! Boy & Girl are still on spring break so I haven't had the time to get it all together, soon though!
I've been replaced (starting in August).
The Family has made an offer to their next au pair! I know it will be weird when I finally do leave The Family, not seeing people you've seen almost every day for a year might be a little odd at first, but I'm sure we'll all survive. That being said I'm happy that they've found some one new. Like with me, The Family offered up previous au pairs as references to give a little insight into the job/living with The Family/Boy & Girl/et cetera. Maybe I was just naïve or maybe just dumb but they way these girls made it sound it sounded like I was coming into the "dream job." (I had talked with a bunch of au pairs who had received similar stories from their previous au pairs--I think maybe au pairs are worried that if they don't say only fabulous, fun, kind things they might scare away the next au pair and thus never have a replacement and their family will make them stay with them forever...) As I found out, it isn't exactly the case, so I wanted to be a little more honest and open with NAP, just to paint a clearer picture. Since I've been thinking about this e-mail for about six months (daydreaming/thinking, same thing, right?) I was pretty excited to lay it all out. I told my mom I was going to be more honest and forward and she worried that I was going to do some karma-rearing, 10 months of frustration, expletive e-mail detailing every bad moment (and there were some days when that is what I wanted to write) but here's how it actually came out:
Sorry for the delayed response! I think maybe the best order to answer your questions is in reverse (and I tend to drone on so feel free to skim!)
-I'm originally from Washington, D.C. but my parents moved to Minnesota when I was in high school. I went to college in Ohio and after graduation last May I moved here. I studied abroad during my junior year of college and really loved my experience living in Europe which is why I became an au pair.
-Overall my experience as an au pair has been positive but it's not always wonderful. I guess what I wish I had known before is that it won't always be loads of fun, however I can assure you it is a worthwhile experience. I will tell you that it is really difficult to live with your employer, but The Family is a great family to work for/live with. The living situation kind of sucks (not having your own bathroom) but it is better to have a great family and a not-so-great room than the other way around. It is hard to live with a family that isn't your own, but they really try to make you feel at home and comfortable. The kids are typically good, but can be really frustrating at times. After talking to the previous au pairs we realized that we all came in thinking we would be living with the "dream kids," but kids are kids and sometimes they can have attitudes/bad days et cetera. I'm not trying to scare you, I just wish I had had a little more realistic viewpoint coming in! I'm not sure how the job will change with the new baby on its way, but compared with a lot of my au pair friends, I work the least (which is nice!). All in all though, The Family is a good family to work for.
-Switzerland is a great place to live, it is incredibly safe, clean and gorgeous. (It is, however, a very expensive country. Expect to pay 2-3 times more for something, coffee cocktail et cetera, than you would in the States/Canada.) Traveling is really easy from such a centrally located country and The Family encourages you to travel and will try to accommodate you as best they can. You get a bunch of holiday time with the job--one of the best parts of being an au pair.
-Zürich is a fabulous place to be an au pair because it is a really international community so there are tons of ex-pats around to do stuff with (which could be a bad thing if you want a more European experience) and a lot of au pairs. You can get involved in sports here easily as well--if you're interested. There is a meeting every Wednesday morning where a bunch of au pairs meet and I've made some wonderful friends there to travel and/or go out with. Making friends here was a big concern of mine before I came but it has all worked out really well.
If you have any more questions at all, please feel free to e-mail me! Last year The Family's au pair called me before I came to answer any lingering questions, so if you want I'd be happy to talk to you. I leave Saturday for Spain/Portugal for ten days (like I said, the holiday time is wonderful!) so let me know if you'd like to chat and we can arrange a time.
When it finally came down to it, I couldn't just let it all out. I will still be around Switzerland when she comes so maybe I'll take her out for a drink, tell her that when the day comes, she's more than welcome to send me an e-mail complaining about they job. I'll be all ears.