Share your experiences with the community:
a) did it help you raise your level in the language?
b) did you make any friends?
c) what was your relationship with the child/host family like?
I'm all ears. I'm excited to hear your experiences. Doesn't matter if they're good or bad.
It seems that Christina was unlucky with her situation. I was an au pair in France for a summer between school and university. I didn't make friends as such, but that wasn't the reason I did it. Unlike Christina, I had virtually no housework to do, as my main function was to keep an eye on the children. The adults also did their best to make me feel like one of the family. I arrived with nothing more than classroom French, and over the summer I acquired a fluency that I never lost. For me, it was the best possible language learning experience, to be immersed totally in a language in the most natural of environments.
Au pair is not ideal. Many families expect you to be the help who does the ironing and the dishes on top of taking care of the children.
They use simple language, they don't have conversations with you and you rarely have any social interactions (eg cafe, restaurant, trips). Oh, and children are children, tjey always do their best to exhaust adults :)
Usually these families give you so much housework that you barely have time to study and finish your program with success.
There are plenty of decent families who go out of their way to help you and make you love heir country and languahe, but you can't be certain yours will be one of them.
I agree with both of you. My experience was, unfortunately, similar to the one Christina had. I had too much work to do. It was very exhausting, and I felt like the family was exploiting me a lot. On the other hand, I became perfect at the language. It's very easy to find opportunities to practice when you share a household with someone. I learnt a lot talking to the kids as well. But I'd prefer your experience SuKi. As I said, it was very exhausting, I used to work at least 7 hours a day, full days on Wednesdays (12 hours) and every other Sunday. Plus, I did babysitting 2 times a week when the parents decided to eat out (I used to stay up till 1am having to waking up at 7 the next day). It was terrible.
I think that my level has raised since i joined Italiki, and of couse i made some friends, i had skype conversation with them every week :)
I haven't an experience with au pair, but i'm very excited to travel to London for 6 months linguistic stay.
Concerning my skype conversation, it is very intersting, we speak both of french and english, and i think that is a good way to improve our speaking skills.