Tag Archives: au pair

Double Yay!

So I wrote another article for Bootsnall about my experience as an au pair and why it’s a great alternative to more expensive or restrictive forms of studying/working/living/traveling abroad. It’s something I had never thought about doing before last year, but now that I’ve had that experience, I really believe that it’s a great option for people who want to get abroad on a limited budget…..if you’re open to working with kids of course!

Here it is! http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/11-01/au-pairing-your-way-around-the-world.html

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Wow. So I am here. In Madrid. No more Baeza, no more La Puerta de Segura, no more teaching, no more Andaluz accents, no more heater-less, hot water-less apartments. And I don’t miss it at all.

I moved in with my new family on Saturday. Lorena (the mom) and Bruno (my little charge) met me at Chamartin Station. Thank god they brought a car because I was lugging about 80 pounds of luggage and trying really hard to pretend that it wasn’t too heavy. For about two seconds I was absolutely confused as to how I could have multiplied the weight of my luggage by so much since September–then I realized that I have somehow accumulated 7 pairs of shoes and at least three large-ish jackets since my arrival. This sounds decadent, but when I think about how I only came with one jacket and no boots and how I’ve had to throw out about three pairs of shoes AND how cold and wet it’s been the last four months or so, I don’t feel too bad about it! Also two of the seven pairs were ones I brought back at Christmas and were already owned by moi. Ok, no more defending my closet.

Anyways, I am now in my new room, which is the loveliest, girliest, best-smelling room I have ever had. I have hardwood floors (no more cold tile!), blue walls, a pink comforter, and a variety of flowers of all shapes and sizes all over the place. It is super modern, super IKEA, and super comfortable, and I love it! The whole house is so nice and clean and modern and homey, and it is such a welcome change from the cold, wet, oily dungeons I have lived in the last five months. Ok, “dungeon” is a harsh word, but when your head only clears your subterranean bathroom ceiling by about two inches and there is long, feathery mold growing from its clammy, rock-like interior, I think it is appropriate. The kitchen here is literally exploding with food, and I am seriously full all the time. It’s actually becoming a problem because they feed me too well and tomorrow I am going to “start running.” Also I “will not eat any chocolate or potato chips.”

I work in the afternoons which basically involves picking up Bruno from the preschool at 4:30pm and walking the 1.7 km back to the apartment. On the way, we stop at the park and I spend the next 1-1.5 hours trying to get him to get back into his stroller while simultaneously pretending to be a monster, pushing him on a swing, and teaching him to count in English. Then, when I finally am victorious and have him strapped down in his stroller, we continue our walk home. He is immediately disappointed upon our return, realizing that his parents are gone, and then we play with trucks and watch Finding Nemo for the next two hours. Dinner is at eight, bath at 8:30, and by nine I am struggling to get him into bed. Tonight, he is magically asleep, but he whimpered, sang, cried, and made truck noises alone in his dark room for 45 minutes after lights out. Tonight was a very, very good night.

And that’s it! I am actually exhausted at the end of that, even if I am sitting on a couch watching a movie for half the time. I am supposed to only speak to him in English, but he tunes English out really easily, so I also have to repeat things in Spanish. He has the magic capability that just about every two-year old has to find the sharpest/most breakable object in any room should I leave it for more than .04 seconds, and he is the best fake-tantrum thrower I have ever seen in my life, complete with a full body slam onto a specific spot on the hardwood floor.

There is also a dog, which is a French bulldog so I obviously love it, but that dog will hump your leg all day. Then he will lie on your black coat and spread a fine film of black and white hairs over the entire thing. I find this adds to the “look” I have created by losing almost all of the buttons and using safety pins to keep the thing together. CHIC! But seriously, the dog is cute, and if I even pretend to pick up a magazine, it hightails it out of the room. So the problem is easily solved.

The city itself is amazing, and I think if Barcelona and New York had a baby, it would definitely be Madrid. It takes me 48 minutes to get to the center on the metro, and I have gone in every day since I’ve been here. I have a heap of podcasts and books and music on my fantastic iPod touch and that keeps me easily occupied for the duration of my journey. I signed up for a Spanish class that only costs 84 euros per month, and so far we have had a test (the first day), corrected said test, anddddd that’s it. I got a 59/103 which is actually better than I thought I would do since I have never learned the subjunctive  in my life and I had no idea we were having a test. I think I need to move down a level, but who knows.

So far I have only met with one mishap, and that involves the delightful cup of coffee and piece of carrot cake in the above photo. Looks good right? It was. It was so so so so good. But it cost 16.50 euros. Well, actually it only cost 6.50, but after paying with a 20 and some coins, I got back a 5 and a 10. Cool. The next day, I go to buy some totally necessary candy with the ten, and the guy just looks at me and says “Es falso.” It’s fake. Aaaand it was. COUNTERFEIT MONEY! It was literally just printed onto regular paper and crumpled up a bunch. I felt like such a sad idiot. But, at least now I have big-city problems! No more near-floods or buses being cancelled and libraries being closed because of the rain. No more “no meat after 2pm” or “we only sell moldy vegetables.” And I don’t know if I can count the fact that I cleaned up dog barf, baby poop, and baby pee all within ten  minutes yesterday as a “big city problem,” but honestly, I’ll take it. So far, poop and all, this has been great. One week almost down, 16 to go!

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