Tuesday, April 28, 2009


You would think that I'm a crackhead with how paranoid I get about certain things. I'm quite worried that I'll forget to bring something important that I'll need. So perhaps I can use this blog to my advantage...
I know that I know a lot of people who've spent time overseas. If you are one of these people, do you have any tips of what I should bring? Have any of you forgotten something important when you left, or brought something that you couldn't live without?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


You've made it to my blog! Congratulations. This must mean that you are one or more of the following:
  1. a family member
  2. one of my terrific friends
  3. a former teacher, professor, or colleague of mine (that probably puts you in category 2, also)
  4. someone who has randomly stumbled upon this very interesting topic
  5. someone who knows me, but isn't a friend of mine and wants to stalk me
  6. other
Regardless how you've ended up here, I'm surprised you've stuck around this far into my writing. I, and my professors can attest to this, am not the world's best writer. Some people are blessed with handsome good looks, and others get writing skills. I got neither of these...I was just blessed with an extra large sternum. Anyway, I figure that if you've made it this far, you might stick around to hear more of what I have to say about where I'm going with this blog.

For those of you that don't know, on May 6th, I am moving to France to become an Au Pair for a year. This blog is designed to update the people of my life who would like to know how I'm doing overseas. In addition to that, I'm hoping to spread the observations that I make while living in such a different culture and part of the world. It doesn't matter to me if you are just curious like I am, or if you want to live vicariously through me. Either way, I'll be posting stories, information, pictures and videos to help show you all the uniqueness and beauty of the places I will be visiting and the experiences I will be having. I have never written a blog or read one before, so I don't really know what I'm doing. I'll try to make posts that won't bore you and I'll try to update this as much as I can.

Ok, that's enough of writing about nothing. If anyone has any questions or comments or plain old correspondence to send me, I'd love to hear them!

Au Revoir!


During these last few months since I've been thinking about going to France, many people have asked me many different questions. I've tried to remember as many of them as I can. Here's my attempt to re-answer and elaborate on some of these questions, or perhaps answer the questions that you never thought to ask...

What is an Au Pair?
Simply, it's a nanny. More specifically, it's a foreigner who lives with teh family and takes care of the children in exchange fora small stipend, a cultural experience, and education (taking a French class). So while I'll be taking care of the kids, it's much more than that.

Why France?
I can not pick out the exact moment my love for France started. I can remember, however, my decision that affected my life in a much larger way than I ever thought it would. Back in middle school, I had the decision to pick the popular Spanish as a foreign language, the weird German, or the romantic French. Despite the urging from my father, I chose French. Why? Because I thought it would impress girls...honestly. Little did I know, my love for girls at that time would breed my love for all things French. The culture, the food, the language, the history have all intrigued me and tantalized me as things that could be replicated or seen through others' eyes. It became the unobtainable fruit for me. All of this fueled my desire to experience something that I never thought that I could.

Why an Au Pair?
I knew that I couldn't afford to just vacation in France. I knew that I wanted to really experience the culture (especially family life) rather than just seeing through the eyes of a tourist. Therefore, I started to look into working in France. Due to immigration policies and work shortages, there was no way I could do normal work in the country. After finding this, I came across two possible options: teach English or become an Au Pair. Teaching English sounded nice, but the problem is that the French don't want to learn English that much. Because of this, there really aren't that many incentives to becoming an English teacher. Asia, on the other hand, is begging Americans to do this (maybe this can be my next experience). Being an Au Pair seemed to be the most logical choice for me. I love kids, I want to experience the French family dynamic, and my living obligations (room and board) are taken care of for me. The perfect fit.

How did I find this family?
There are basically two routes in choosing a family: finding an agency or using a website and picking your own family. By using an agency, you are given a bailout plan in case your family treats you like a slave, but the expensive costs and the lack of a choice made me choose the 2nd option instead. If you are curious, the 4 websites I used were easyaupair.com, greataupair.com, newaupair.com, and aupair-world.net. I wound up having the most success with the last website. Basically, all of these sites are set up much like a dating service (I wouldn't know). I set up a profile and searched families who had profiles posted as well. In this case, my family found me first. We corresponded via a couple emails, I emailed their current Au Pair, they called me, and they asked me to be their Au Pair. Its very easy once you find a family that wants you. But that's the hard part.

The Family
The mother, Juliette, is a financial controller at the Geneva Airport. She is French, however, she studied in England for 14 years. If you've ever been curious to what a part French, part British accent sounds like...she is your woman. I'll definitely have to get used to that. Greg, the father, is a physicist/engineer at CERN. That's the world's largest laboratory. It sounds to me like I will be in the presence of intellectual royalty. I will be in charge of two boys, Macsen and Aiden. They are 6 and 4, respectively. From what it sounds like, this family seems very loving and welcoming. I'm very excited that they found me!

Where I'll be staying
You might be wondering why I have a picture of Geneva, Switzerland for the header of this page. That's because the town I'll be living in, Thoiry, France, is a suburb of Geneva (SAT fans...Thoiry is to Geneva as the region is to Chicago (assuming Indiana and Illinois are different countries)). I'll be up in the Jura mountains...very close to the Alps, but not exactly. Even though its not Austria, this is where I get the title of my blog. I envision myself to be dancing on the hills wearing a maid's outfit singing "The hills are alive..."

What I expect to be doing
I only really take care of the kids about 4.5 hours a day and all day on Wednesdays (evidently they don't go to school on Wednesdays). I have nights off and weekends off. Of course, I won't abandon them during this time, but it will be nice for allowing me to do some traveling. As per the French contract, I have to take a French class while I am there. I don't expect that it will be anything too taxing...it is designed for Au Pairs.

Becoming an Au Pair
My family sent a contract in the mail. I signed it and sent it back along with proof that I've had 150 hours of French in my lifetime, my diplomas, and my passport (all copies, of course). From there, my family turned in those documents to the French government and they issued the final contract. I used that contract to go to the French Consulate in Chicago to apply for my visa. Within 2 days, the visa was waiting for me in my mailbox! I was surprised how quick it went. Now...I'm all set to go to France!

How long?
I'll be there for 1 year. I'm pretty sure that's the maximum that I can stay.