We’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Right? Well what about, “You don’t know what you’re not missing until you return.” Through my experiences, I’ve noticed so often that young adults are afraid to leave their home, friends, family, boy/girlfriend because they think that they will miss out on some big event that will happen while they’re away. There is such a culture of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that people don’t take chances anymore. Everyone is sitting idle by their phone waiting for the next best thing to happen but aren’t willing to take their own leap into adventure! Here’s the thing: when you travel and come back home, things usually stay the same. And if there is a major event, you’re only a Skype call away.
Recently, I’ve had the chance to talk to Letitia B who was just an Au Pair in Italy! Letitia is a 19 year old from a small town in South-Western Ontario. I was able to ask her a bit about her experiences as an Au Pair, what the best/worst parts were and why young adults should take the plunge into traveling abroad!
1) Can you please tell us a little bit about your experience as an au pair?
I spent January to May in Italy, living with the sweetest and most incredible family in Turin, a big city in Northern Italy, bordering Southern France. I was looking after and teaching English to two wonderful and very unique girls.
Valentina, the older sister, is a very independent, free-spirited and an intelligent 5 year old. While Viola, who is 3 years old, is a more affectionate girl who loves to joke around and make everyone around her laugh. The area they lived in was really great too, the mountains were an hour drive north and the seaside was an hour drive south.
2) What did a typical day look like for you?
Both girls had school from 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Monday through Friday, so this required me to wake up each morning between 7:00a.m. and 7:30 a.m., have the girls up and dressed by 8:00a.m. and we’d leave for school around 8:30a.m. My family lived just outside of the city, on the hills in a beautiful little area called Cavoretto, which had a small school that was only 10 minutes walking distance from home. After dropping the girls off, I would usually go with my host mother, Francesca, to the gym, to the market or shopping. I’d walk into the city on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s for Italian courses, and then stay afterwards to have lunch or hangout in the park with friends I made in class. Having friends from all over the world definitely enhanced the experience, I miss each of them so much! Also an an Au Pair you have weekends free to travel or do whatever you feel.
3) What made you want to be an Au Pair?
My older sister was an Au Pair in Hungary after she finished high school, and I knew that I didn’t want to start University right after graduating. I realized in October that I wanted to travel during my year off, started looking at being an Au Pair in November, and left for Italy right after New Years. I realize how spontaneous everything was, and I think that’s what made it so exciting, I can’t stand the anticipation of waiting!!
4) What was the best part of being an Au Pair?
Being an Au Pair is easily the best job in the world. It allows you to combine travel with work, you get to explore another part of the world, hangout with kids, make some pocket money for your travels, and live with a really awesome family (most families are awesome because they’re willing to invite practically a stranger to come live with them and take care of their children.)
My family went to Oman for vacation in April, and I was able to go backpack around Italy for the few weeks that they were gone. It definitely showed me what the rest of Italy is like, I saw cities like Verona, Venice, Rome, Florence and Bologna. There are no tourists in Turin like there are everywhere else. It’s a beautiful and timeless city and remains my favourite in all of Italy!
I couldn’t say there was a ‘worst’ part. I was homesick, which did suck. I’m very close with my family and it was hard being away from them, but making new friends who are going through similar experiences and feeling like you’re a part of your host family makes the experience and transition way easier. It’s strange realizing, now that I’m home, I’m actually homesick from living there too: my friends, the foreign city and the feeling of being on my own in a way. I guess I wish that my experiences weren’t just stories and that my family could have been there to live it all with me.
6) What advice would you give to young adults looking to live abroad?
Don’t be scared! You will regret not travelling and seeing the world. Even being overseas for a short amount of time made me realize how much of the world I want to see. The truth is, and I was told this so many times: is that when you come home it feels like nothing changed while you were gone, you haven’t actually missed out on everything like you thought you would. When you go abroad you will experience culture shock, and that’s inevitable, but the best thing you can do it just accept it all. Coming home brings on the reverse culture shock, and its’s so weird.
7) Now that you’re home, what do you plan on doing?
Leaving. I’m doing a year at Wilfrid Laurier University, then I plan on going to Australia or New Zealand to Au Pair again, and afterwards to backpack through Southeast Asia. School can wait.
8) Was being an au pair everything you expected it to be?
Yes and no. All of the expectations were the same, although I thought it would feel more like a job. I felt more like a family member than anything, Valentina and Viola were, and still are, my little sisters.
9) Are you still in contact with the family now and will you go back to visit?
I still talk to my family often, we Skype and text as much as possible. The father, Antonio, is a Geographer and recently got a job in Bolivia, so they packed up their stuff and moved there in the beginning of September (cool right?). They’re a really great family and have such a surreal and spontaneous lifestyle, I was so lucky to be a part of it. I ABSOLUTELY plan on seeing them again, I’d love to see how the girl’s English will improve.
Again, all I want to do is travel now. My mom had to convince me to go to school this year. One thing I’m very careful with is spending and saving money now. I’m definitely more keen to spend my money on travel than physical things.