We won't lie to you - moving to a new country, especially as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, is bloody hard. Being new to a city and its customs can mean you're relying on the kindness of strangers - aka, your new host family. So, when they tell you to do something, you do it - right?
But, what happens when they tell you to do something 24/7. Or when they ask the impossible, or when they don't compensate over-time with money or a day off? Well, unfortunately, you may be being taken advantage of.
Edwina found herself in this situation with her first host family (listen to her talk about it over on YouTube). As a result, she ended up moving host families and enjoying the rest of her year a LOT more.
If you find yourself being taken advantage of, we recommend that you stand up for yourself. This is easier said than done, but we recommend making it a little easier by:
- scheduling some time to speak to your host family in advance - choose a quiet evening.
- have a list of everything you want to ask about and do it in a polite/business-like manner
- ASK for more time off and plan weekends away for space. If you ask in advance for a weekend away or a day off, it'll give you time to clear your head and some much-needed space!
- If you're always being kept much later than agreed upon in your contract, mention early on in the evening that you'll need to leave at a certain time and make sure you stick to it. Fair warning.
Many awkward misunderstandings with host families can be resolved by being open and honest. Don't try to be sneaky - open communication served us very well as au pairs.
Unfortunately, if you still find yourself being taken advantage of and have tried to speak to your host family a few times without any luck, it may be time to move on! Certainly don't let yourself be taken advantage of for your entire au pair year!