The following is a guest post by Danni from Live in 10 Countries, who is working towards the goal of living in 10 different countries! As a fellow expat, I was interested to know how she found work as an au pair in Italy and what it was really like! You can follow more of her expat adventures on her blog and Twitter account.
I’m a ginger on the internet pursuing a semi-crazy goal – or that’s the tagline I’ve come up with! I’m Danni and I left my home in the UK at 18 to take my first job teaching in Peru for one year. Needless to say, I was knee-quakingly terrified and underprepared. Although I returned home afterward and went to uni as normal, it had started that travel itch. I couldn’t stop thinking about living in 10 magical countries and when I left university and I found ways to work and live in another seven foreign countries over the coming years. Here I’ll share my experience of working as an au pair in Italy.
Why work as an au pair in Italy?
I came to Italy because I had no ties anywhere else (never bought a place, no kids, single at the time, no pets, no one would suffer but me if I mucked things up) – so it seemed a risk worth taking. I had savings built up from my last job in Reykjavik that would last a few months and had been learning Italian. And I must admit, I was dying to experience the culture, the way of life, everything.
But I didn’t have a job, just a cheap AirBnB in Rome booked and my CV. The UK was making plans to Brexit, which I was strongly against, so I wanted to make maximum use of the right to live and work abroad in the EU while I still could.
How did you find a job as an au pair in Italy?
Job hunting in Rome was a challenge I would say. I had experience in childcare and tutoring children, so I placed ads online and attended about five interviews in the first month. None of them were a good fit and I also got pretty distracted by seeing all of Rome’s sights and tasting the local food – my fault entirely!
I decided to switch tactics as the end of summer arrived, and instead joined some au pair agencies online. I had not been an au pair before, all previous childcare had been live out. Nonetheless, I was quickly matched with a lovely family with a little boy in a suburb just outside Milan. After a few Skype calls, I felt confident in booking a train and moving into their spare room. Meeting the child over Skype is very important before you commit!
Do you need any experience to work as an au pair?
Although as a private au pair you don’t always have to have direct childcare experience, the more you know – the better! I’d really recommend getting at least volunteer experience with kids before you jump into everything.
I started with little more than a bit of teenage babysitting, which landed me a volunteer position with kids on the Czech-Polish border. Luckily, it was a role that was all about learning and they gave me space to run an afterschool club with kids and work out what I was doing. A steep learning curve, basically! Building on that helped me to convince a family in Italy to take me on as their au pair. I also had a reference based on having worked with kids, which gave my host mum peace of mind.
Do you need a visa to work in Italy as an au pair?
As a Brit, I didn’t need a Visa to stay in Italy and I didn’t fill in any kind of paperwork before arriving. It was just a case of getting on a plane and starting the adventure. I’ve heard of friends from outside of the EU doing something similar, though, on a Schengen visa for 90 days. Essentially, if you’re a US citizen, taking time to travel to Europe is a fantastic opportunity and by staying with a family and working with their kids can make it far more affordable. These positions aren’t paid, as you can’t work on a Schengen visa, but are on a work exchange basis through something like Workaway or HelpX.
However, if you’re from outside of the EU and want to work as an au pair officially then it is possible to do so if you meet certain requirements. For example, if you’re between 18 and 30 you may qualify for a one year working holiday visa in Italy which would allow you to seek out a job on you’re own or through an agency. Another option is to apply for a student visa. You need to take an Italian Language Course that’s at least 20 hours per week, so it would have to fit around your au pair duties, but then you are eligible to apply for the visa.
What do you actually do as an au pair?
I was fortunate in that the mum I was staying with didn’t feel like having help with cleaning, cooking and all those boring chores that tend to come up. This isn’t common, but it was genuinely my experience – and a good thing too because I’m a shocking cook! It just goes to show that there are positions to suit a range of skills and situations. Most au pairs will do light housework, cleaning, washing etc at least while the kiddies are at school or playschool.
I was there to play, entertain the child and get him to speak as much English as possible. A few of the real highlights of being an au pair were those times when you really connect with the little ‘un you’re helping. We often played with toy cars all across the floor of a small apartment. I gave him a bath every evening, which was pretty magical. I saw The Land Before Time so many times I know every single word. And we’d draw or play hide and seek for hours every day.
What was your life in Italy like, outside of work?
The internet was my best weapon for finding friends out there. I used Couchsurfing to find other travellers and also joined a local meetup where we’d watch films and go out for drinks together. People were very open and welcoming, even though the suburb was small so I would usually make a 40-minute train journey into Milan to find friends. Buy your rail tickets in advance and you can save big time in Italy.
My weekends were my own in the job, so I was able to explore a volcano in Sicily, the tiny nation of San Marino, Liechtenstein too.
What’s your biggest tip for someone wanting to work in Italy as an au pair?
My biggest tip for anyone looking to work in Italy as an au pair would be to make learning Italian a priority and do it through your local town council. The Milan Council offered subsidised classes for only 120 euros per semester which was far below the cost of commercial classes. It really helps you integrate and get on a good footing with locals. Even if you’re not very good, the fact that you go to class shows respect and I was even able to pass my B2 level qualification before leaving.
Any tips for visiting Milan?
If you come to Milan for just one day and can’t stay longer, your day needs to include an incredible gelato and a walk in the city’s gorgeous streets. Browse the high fashion district of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II even if you can’t afford to buy anything. Have a coffee in the Piazza del Duomo and try to stop the pigeons stealing your lunch. The cathedral is stunning, but draws huge crowds so plan your visit carefully.
If you’re thinking about living in Italy, I’d be quick to encourage you! I’d also suggest being an au pair, provided you’re with the right family and it’s something you’d like to do!
The post Expat Life: What it’s Like Working as an Au Pair in Italy appeared first on Migrating Miss.