America's First Au Pair Program

Trusted live-in child care - since 1986

Au Pair Culture Quests

Colombia

South America
Capital: Bogotá
Languages: Spanish
Useful links: CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Colombia. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

  • The idea of being an au pair is not very common in Colombia.
  • Applicants from Colombia are motivated by the opportunity to work abroad on a legal program, to gain experience and to improve their English language skills.
  • The job potential of an au pair improves greatly upon her return to Colombia.
  • Applicants sometimes have difficulty affording the program fees, as the program is quite expensive by local standards.
  • Young people in Colombia have the freedom of their family to socialize and date, but have limits set by their families.
  • Curfews are very common.
  • Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores.
  • Nudity is not acceptable.
  • Colombians are known to be happy, smiley people. They aim to create an unforgettable moment of every occasion and love dancing and singing. They are very kind and welcoming and love to participate and share experiences, building very good relationships in this way.
  • Obedience to older people and respect of the family traditions are very important here. The whole family, including the grandparents, plays a very important role in the education and upbringing of the children.
  • Common discipline techniques include scolding and the loss pf privileges.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Colombia.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, by working as a nanny for families, helping in adoption institutions or orphanages, working in local summers camps, or babysitting.
  • It is mainly the mother who assumes the responsibility and related tasks, but grandparents also play a vital role and participate in childcare within the family.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.
  • The minimum driving age is age 16. Most applicants obtain their driving license at age 16 or 18.
  • It is not difficult or expensive to obtain. Colombia has an inexpensive public transit system as well.
  • It takes at least one month to obtain a license in Colombia.
  • The process in order to obtain the driver’s license is:
    • Eye exam
    • Blood test
    • Written test on driving theory
    • Practical test
    • Driving lessons (minimum of 10 hours)
    • Fees
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice driving using their parents’ car; once they have started working in Colombia they will save money with the intention of buying a car.
  • Most cars have manual transmissions.
  • English is a compulsory subject.
  • Classes focus on English for 2 - 3 hours per week beginning in Grade 6, and continue until their secondary education is complete. The focus is primarily on written skills, and all University graduates have to take the TOEFL. Not all Colombians are fluent speakers, but they frequently try to attend classes in local Institutes or travel abroad to improve their English language skills.
  • Approximately 40-50% of young women continue their studies at University.
  • Others complete secretarial courses, computer courses, or Special Skills Training courses offered by the Government in the labor or food industry.
  • There are two academic terms in Colombia; January to November and August to June.
  • The educational opportunities of the Au Pair in America program are extremely important to Colombian applicants.
  • The most common inoculations are Polio, Hepatitis B and C, Meningitis, Diphtheria, Mumps, Tetanus, Chicken Pox, and Yellow Fever. An individual’s inoculations will depend on place of residence and plans for travel as some of these are only required for travel.
  • Most young women are only inoculated and tested for TB (Tuberculosis) if they live and/or work in high risk areas.
  • Colombia has a free health service.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis. It is expensive, but the free health service has special dental treatment rates.
  • “Eating disorders” are common in Colombia.
  • Most young people in Colombia eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is not common.
  • A typical Colombian diet includes potatoes, yams, rice, meat or poultry, vegetables, soup and fruit.
  • The most common religion in Colombia is Catholicism.
  • Most young people in Colombia practice their religion regularly; attending Mass on a Sunday is common. Other traditions include not eating red meat on Friday and on certain occasions. No red meat is consumed six weeks before and during Easter.
  • A young person would rarely choose to practice a religion that is different than her family’s religion.
  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members will not be able to take a message in English from a potential host family.

I really feel like I have a family in America after being an au pair. My host family is going to visit me and my family in Sweden this winter and I cannot wait to see them!
Sandra, au pair from Sweden