Finding the perfect match

Go Au Pair uses a mutual matching process to help host families and au pairs find the best fit.  To get the most out of the tool, it’s important that you spend time narrowing your options and especially interviewing au pairs.

Many au pairs are infant qualified, have driver’s licenses, or speak multiple languages.  On paper, it can be difficult to know whether one au pair will be better for your family than another.  The answer?  Interview.  Not once, but two or three times.

If you are able, use Skype or another video conferencing tool, so that you can see your potential au pair.  So much of his or her personality will be lost without the visual element–facial expressions and body language will allow you to experience your au pair’s sense of humor and warmth.

When it comes time to choose your au pair, you may find, as many host families do, that something just “clicks,” with a certain candidate and many of the must-haves on your wishlist feel a bit less necessary.  Learn more about trusting your gut: read When Matching Trust your Instincts.

keep calm and follow your instincts

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More on Culture Shock

A few months ago, I talked about Food and Culture Shock.  While I believe that a lack of familiar foods is one of the most pronounced ways a traveler feels homesickness and culture shock, culture shock goes beyond that.

What is culture shock?  Culture shock is a term used to describe the disorientation someone feels when they leave a familiar social environment.  In the case of an au pair, that environment is their home country.  Experts have identified four phases of culture shock, and an au pair may experience one phase or all of them during her stay in the U.S.  As you prepare for your au pair’s arrival, be ready for the first few months:

In the “honeymoon phase,” your au pair is enamored of her new situation, taking in the new sights and sounds of her host city and her new home.  All of the new experiences are so exciting that it is difficult for the au pair to leave the fascination behind and be objective.

Once the new wears off, your au pair may begin to notice and experience some anxiety about the differences in her culture and the Midwestern culture of Indianapolis.  For example, the welcoming, friendly attitude most Indianapolis residents have toward complete strangers on the street might go against the social traditions the au pair is used to.  What felt in the first few days after arrival like the city was rolling out a red carpet for an honored guest might begin to seem like an imposition, especially if your au pair is an introvert.  Additionally, the language barrier may lead to misunderstandings that can become a major frustration, and this is typically the period when homesickness begins to set in.

Help your au pair navigate the “negotiation phase” by keeping the lines of communication open.  Welcome questions about American and Midwestern culture, be open to learning about the au pair’s home country, and try to find common ground by doing activities that highlight it–share a traditional meal from each culture or encourage participation in a local activity that will help your au pair find friends to both distract from and share in the homesickness.

Would you like to learn more about the Four Phases of Culture Shock?  Click here to read more.

Program fees, application fees, travel costs–just how much does an au pair cost?

With Go Au Pair, a variety of services are bundled into one flat program fee, and families also pay the agency for travel fees (international and domestic air fare).

In addition to agency fees, families also pay their au pair a weekly stipend and contribute to their education.  All of these fees add up to an average cost of less than $350 per week per family, but these fees aren’t actually paid weekly–some fees are paid in larger installments before, during, and after your au pair’s arrival (flexible payment options are available to help spread out payments more).

An au pair is an excellent option, especially for families on a budget, but it can be a bit confusing to determine where au pair care fits into that budget.  Thankfully, Go Au Pair has put together a great video that goes over the costs involved.  Click the screenshot below to learn more about program pricing and watch the video!

Screenshot of Program Pricing video

Distinctly American Holidays: July 4th

It’s  11pm, and you’re relaxing after a long day of chasing children when suddenly, you hear what sound like gunshots.  If it’s the end of June or early in July, chances are, there’s no need to be alarmed, it’s just fireworks.Fireworks

July 4th, or Independence Day, is celebrated in the U.S. every year.  The anniversary isn’t actually the day the U.S. was independent of British rule, but the anniversary of the colonies declaring their independence.  And it’s a pretty big to-do.  Generally, the celebration includes parades, cookouts, parties, and, official fireworks displays.

Unfortunately for Hoosiers who like to get to bed early, it also means a few weeks of amateur fireworks displays, as Indiana is one of many states that does not place much restriction on fireworks.

If you’d like to join in the festivities, here’s a list of this year’s official displays, most of them sponsored by cities/counties, companies, or civic organizations.  And if you’re planning to have your own DIY fireworks display, please be safe and check out these tips!

Share Your Language and Culture in Indianapolis, Indiana

One of the greatest parts of the au pair program, for au pairs, host families, and host cities is the sharing of language and culture it inspires.  Host families  benefit greatly from the exchange, which results in more globally-minded, sometimes multi-lingual children.  Au pairs generally enjoy their Hoosier experience when they come to Indianapolis and leave an impression on all of the friends they make while they are here.

Do you want to make the most of the exchange part of cultural exchange child care?  Sharing your language and culture with others is super-simple thanks to the internet!  Check out local Language and Culture meetups, where you can join an international supper club, attend a language lecture, or find a language group to practice your English (or another language you’re trying to learn while you’re here).

Food Culture Shock – Finding Familiar Foods

Food is one of the best tools in your arsenal to combat homesickness.  Au pairs, if you’re feeling a little lost without the comforting home-cooked meals you left behind, check out these local resources.

Saraga International Market – Saraga carries food from all over the world at two locations in Indianapolis.  Hard-to-find fruits, vegetables, staples, and spices are almost always available on their shelves.  And if you aren’t a cook, they have a pretty impressive array of global ready-to-eat entrees, breads, and side dishes.  I personally sneak off to Saraga for frozen, ready-to-warm garlic naan, but they have everything from bulk rice to duck eggs to British teas.

For German cuisine, try Heidelburg House german bakery for springerle (they also have a restaurant!) or Claus German Sausage, which stocks freshly-made meats and charcuterie, specialty breads, mustards, and other staples.

Asia Mart Grocery caters to clients from Thailand, China, Japan, Korea and the Phillipines.

There are a wide array of international markets that specialize in specific parts of the world, and I’ll update this page as I learn of more.

Have you found one that you love?  Let me know about it below!

 

Au Pairs: Make New Friends at Indy’s Many Cultural Festivals

Indianapolis has long been known as a “City of Immigrants.”  The city’s long history of immigration means that Indy has a global feel.  Whether you’re interested in connecting with people who share your culture, or learning about someone else’s, there are so many opportunities to make friends and expand your cultural vocabulary in Indianapolis.  Mark your calendars for these summer and fall festivals (more will be added as they are announced), where you can meet visitors, long-time residents, recent immigrants, exchange students, and others who share your passion for cultural exchange!

St. Benno Fest (Festival of Beer)
April 27 @Indianapolis Athanaeum

Italian Street Festival
June 14-15 @ Holy Rosary

Annual Indian [Native American] Market
June 22 @Eiteljorg Museum, Military Park

Indianapolis Greek Festival
August 24-25 @Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Hispanic Heritage Fiesta
September 15 @ Indianapolis Zoo

Chinese Festival
September 21 @Military Park

Latino Festival of the Arts
September 28 @Indiana State Museum