Topic: Career Development, Travel, & Cultural Differences
Are you wondering how to develop career goals as an Au Pair? Are you a Host Family who likes the idea of contributing to your Au Pair’s future when they return home?
In this interview, Au Pair Marina shares how she’s been able to develop career goals as an Au Pair. Marina says the Au Pair program has contributed significantly to her career development.
For three years, Marina was an English teacher in her home country of China, before she decided to join the Au Pair program. She wanted to live in the U.S. to improve her English and her language-teaching skills, and she says that the program will help advance her future career.
Having native speaking experience will help Marina stand out in her field. She also says that the experience of teaching a foreign language her Host Kids kids is invaluable and has already contributed significantly to her teaching strategy.
Not only has improving her English contributed to Marina’s career development, but living in the U.S. has given her new perspectives on teaching strategies.
This has helped her develop career goals as an Au Pair, and also as a teacher; she now knows how she will teach language when she returns home to China.
Marina shares the differences in U.S. and Chinese education strategies. She plans to take new perspectives home with her and says she wants to take a “combination,” hybrid-approach with her teaching.
Watch the video and/ or skim the timestamps to learn how to develop career goals as an Au Pair, and to hear more about Marina’s experience and how the program has impacted her life and her future.
0:31 –Host Family encourages travel & new experiences
“I travel to lots and lots of places, because my Host Family, they said they love me traveling, and I can bring [back] the positive effects for the girls. So, I can share what did I see & what did I do with the girls & they will be so excited to hear that.”
1:13 –Cultural exchange & U.S. influence
“I’ve learned a lot, about the country and about the way Americans teach kids… And I think it’s a good thing that I can learn and bring [new methods] back, and use combination [of] ways to teach our students.
“I think here… it’s very important for kids to play outside. And in China, kids will be staying in the classroom for a whole day and learning to read and write a lot. It’s kind of… pressure. So I think here, it’s sort of [a] stress-free environment for the kids. And I think that’s great.”
6:15 – First few weeks in the U.S.
“My Host Mom is so considerate. Like, she will know that I come from another country and she will talk to me all the time to see… is everything okay? And she’s so gentle. She will talk to me about everything, you know, cultural, about the last Au Pair, about the kids, and personality… Just make me comfortable, that I can do whatever I want and she gave me lots and lots of trust…
“I can decide where I can take the girls & what do I do today? She decided [to] not let older sister go to school last year, because she wants her to stay with me to practice Chinese more, and we can go to more places that, it’s more fun than school.”
8:20 – Cultural Differences
“Most of the things are what I’m expecting… I found [in] Texas, people are really friendly… they will talk to you on the street all the time, and they will give you—even if I go to the beer brewery, they will give you extra beer for free. And I’m just like, wow, you are so nice!
“I think the law here is pretty complete. Because, I think, here you call the police and it’s big stuff. In China, if someone had a fight, a family fight, they will call the police and the police will come. It’s sort of like, waste of their time, it’s just not a big deal… But here, I think people have aware[ness] of the law, what is legal and what is illegal, and they will stick to it, to do it. I’ve never seen anybody run through the red light. [laughs] That’s so good!”
11:50 – Relationship with Host Kids
“We get along very well. And so, I spend most of [my] time with them and I take them out every day… They’re always so sweet. I remember one time, I fall, and they were like, so nervous and [they looked around for a] bandage, and I’m like, ‘Gosh! This is my kids!’
“I think they’re the best kids ever. And they’re so smart! Sometimes they ask me questions and I have to think about [them for] a few minutes [laughs] to answer. Yeah, the older sister, she’s so logical. So, she will ask you lots of—cause I always speak Chinese to them, I’ve never speak English to them. And I told them I don’t understand the kids’ language, the kids’ version of English. They say, ‘I saw you speak English with my mom & dad.’ Well, yeah, cause their English is easier!”
14:33 – Teaching Chinese to Host Kids
“Every time I take the girls to the museum, or any public place, and I talk in Chinese to them, lots of people will like, break their neck to turn around and watch. Some people will come talk to us and say, ‘Are you speaking Japanese? Are you speaking Korean?’ And uh, so the girls don’t have any accent. They’re like native speaker[s], perfect speaker. So every time I’m near Chinese parents, they were like super, super surprised. And some dad will come talk to us, like he didn’t want to leave, he want to ask Ali everything because she’s got that amazing accent that he couldn’t believe.”
18:03 – Relationship with Host Mom
“I love her. I totally love her. She’s like, the best Host Mom. The first day I came she was like, ‘Marina, do you know what’s your rights? You don’t ever over-work, because this is your working schedule. You don’t have to go to do grocery, because it’s not your job.’
“She encouraged me to go and travel so much, and she’s so wise. She studied at Cambridge and she will give me lots of useful suggestions… I think she’s so strong woman, that she can handle any situation. So, I feel safe to tell her anything, because she will always come up with an idea that will solve this problem.
“Sometimes, when I am done working, and we’re just sitting there talking, sometimes we’ll just have a wine and talk for so late! …It’s like the perfect fit, ever.”
19:49 – #1 tip for Au Pairs
“First, you’re gonna consider them as your family. Cause some of my friends, they arrive here, and they would complain… But if you want a good relationship with your host family, you just gotta be mature and consider [them] as your family, because you’re gonna live there for a long time. They’re your family, too, and if you do good things for them, they will totally get it and do good things for you. And you guys will be so close.
“Communication is so important. If your language is not very good, then you will always ask… I think Americans are very direct. They don’t wanna hide & guessing what you’re thinking. So, if you think of anything just ask them and I think they will totally answer you honestly. And you don’t have to feel bad or embarrass[ed], because you are in another country. You’re a learner here.”
21:43 – Supporting Host Family’s parenting style
“I think the most important thing is, gonna ask the parents’ opinion about the kids. What do they want you to do for them? Because, they’re the parents, and you gotta listen to them. And you can provide your suggestions & you guys can combine. So, don’t just do whatever you want & totally don’t tell them. No communication is no good.”
22:54 – #1 tip for Host Families
“[Your] Au Pair came all the way here. They want to know the local culture. I think, just tell them as much as you know about Americans, or everything, or you guys can discuss the difference[s]. And you can give au pairs good advice about life and traveling. You guys can share your differences to see if you agree or disagree. I think both [parties] can learn a lot… Of course, respect each other too—and let [your] Au Pair know that you’re considering her as part of the family. Just don’t be too distancing, and make her feel warm and not too homesick, and she will be okay here.
24:45 – Travel experiences
“I traveled lots and lots of places, like Chicago, Seattle, DC, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, LA, Mexico, and New Mexico. And I went to Antelope Canyon… Bear Lake… Texas… New Orleans, Dallas, Sonora…”
“This experience remind[ed] me that, how much I love traveling and to see difference of the city and to see the national park. It’s amazing. I’m just gonna keep traveling to make the most of it, to do as much of it as I can.”
26:29 – Develop career goals as an Au Pair
“I think I’m gonna maybe return to university later, to get my Master’s or even PhD. A lot of Americans do that, and I think it’s so wise, because you have the work experience and you’re mature enough to go to the school to learn something real. Like, maybe you can’t understand when you’re so young, but now you can understand and really learn something.
“…My life was pretty like, boring, before I came here… I didn’t really like, travel that much, back then. And now it’s just like the world is so big, you have to go out and look. And people are just so amazing!
“…Now, even, I start watching T.V., I’ll be like, ‘Ugh. I’m wasting time!’”
If you are interested in learning more about how to develop career goals as an Au Pair, or how to leverage your time in the U.S. to go after your dream career back home, please feel free to message the Au Pair Sis on Facebook!