Welcome to this week’s That One Time In – the feature where fellow travelers share their stories of travel, adventure and everything in between. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @WhereinWorldKP – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s That One Time In features Brianna Bravoco on her adventure as an Au Pair in Italy. This is her story:
As I sit here and write on my laptop, I look down at the world below me. I am perched on the Balcony of my Neapolitan Villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the smells of fresh pasta dough and garlic sizzle in the air. Many people ask me what does my job position of “Au pair” actually mean and in the most sincere definition I can give you is this: A wealthy, Italian family has adopted me for a period of time as their American Daughter. I am not a “Cinderella” who cleans the house. I don’t scrub the floors or clean the dishes. I don’t live in the closet or in a dirty basement. I am NOT a Glorified butler. I am treated like an older sister. With that being said, an older sister has certain responsibilities – picking up the children from school, helping with homework, teaching English, playing with the kids – which is the best and easiest damn job a 21 year old living abroad can have. Getting paid to teach my native language a few hours a day, then 20 hours of freedom to explore my new country is my best kept travel secret until now.
Want to be an Au Pair? Here are some tips of wisdom:
Number 1. Host families are WEALTHY. If they have the money to hire an au pair, you will most likely living in a wealthy area. Last year, I lived in a castle on the beach in Lido di Camaiore Italy and a Penthouse suite in Roma. Now, I live in a Neapolitian villa on the Cliffside in Naples.
Number 2. VACATIONS. My host families have taken me with them on countless vacations with all expenses paid. From ski trips in Roccarossa, Italy to yachts to the exotic island of Ponza. Being a host daughter means living with all the perks.
Number 3. The past two families I have lived with all had LIVE IN HOUSECLEANERS! Last summer, my family had a live-in maid, who cooked us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I never lifted a finger. She wouldn’t even let me make my bed or clean my own laundry. My host mom now has only one job for me…to empty the dishwasher LOL
Number 4. THE HOT FACTOR. Yes, I said it. Host moms love having an attractive girl in the house. Me, prancing around in my bikini all day on the beach would be enough to drive a husband mad, one would think. But these Italian woman love showing me off. I think the idea of having some temptation in the house keeps their marriages spicy! She would take me running on the beach in just our bikinis! My host mom last year loved bringing me to parties with her friends and saying “This is our beautiful Au Pair, Brianna.” She introduced me to the wealthy and elite of Rome. She loved having a pretty girl to dress up and go shopping with.
Number 5. BECOMING FLUENT. Living with a host family isn’t like studying abroad. In most of FSU’s programs, American students stick together and end up never really learning the language. Hanging out with English speaking cliques is cool and all, but if you really want to learn the language you have to break out of your comfort zone. If you are serious about becoming fluent, a host family is the way to go. Not only has my Italian gone from nada to fluent, but I have even started dreaming in Italian! Living with a host family, you are forced to speak Italian on a daily basis. The best way to learn a language is to really live it. From crazy, ten person Italian family dinners, Italian movies, songs, TV shows, and arguments in Italian between family members you can live the whole experience whether you like it or not!
Number 6. FREE TIME. Being an Au pair the host family is truly treating you like an older sister, which means I am treated like an adult. I have my own room, bathroom, Wifi, etc. But on top of that, my family trusts me to make the right decisions in my free time. Free time for me meant trips to Barcelona, Cinque Terre, and the Italian Alps. Sometimes, my host family would even pay for my train ticket for a weekend getaway! I don’t have a curfew, which means some nights I’m out until 2-4 AM dancing the night away with my Italian friends. But that also means I can’t get blacked out and throw up all over the front door. I am not just confined to the city of Naples to explore. Free weekends allow trips to different cities in Europe and Italy! Which brings me to my next point…
Number 7. POCKET MONEY! Yes, I live with the family, eat and travel for free with them, but living in Europe is never cheap. Between all the sight seeing, museums, and going out with friends you are probably wondering how I don’t run out of money. The host family pays me for teaching my English lessons to the children every day. I am given an “allowance” which pays for my trips to other countries and travel expenses. Host families pay from a range of 50 Euro a week to 250 euro a week. You need to negotiate with your family. Every one is different depending on the type of living arrangement you have.
Number 8 : FRIENDSHIPS for a lifetime. Being an Au pair is an unforgettable experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. I still speak with my first host family once a week and consider them my “Italian parents and siblings.” Moving away to a foreign country on your own can seem scary and lonely at first; however, being an Au pair is like having a home away from home. Whether it be 3 am heart to hearts with your host mom over a bottle of Rosso Vino or jumping in the Mediterranean with your 10 year old host brother and getting stung by a jellyfish. You will carry these little moments with you for the rest of your life. So if you are eager to really become apart of a community and explore the abroad lifestyle, I urge you to find your host family and let the adventure begin!