America's First Au Pair Program

Trusted live-in child care - since 1986

Au Pair Culture Quests

Finland

Europe
Capital: Helsinki
Languages: Finnish (official), Swedish (official), Other
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Finland | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Finland. 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 common in Finland.
  • Applicants from Finland are motivated by cultural curiosity.
  • The job potential of an au pair improves upon her return to Finland.
  • Applicants do not have difficulty affording the program fees.
  • Young people in Finland have much freedom of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are not common.
  • Most young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores, though some mothers do everything for their children.
  • Nudity in the family is common (ex. the entire family may go to the sauna together); however, nude sunbathing is not common.
  • Finns describe themselves as honest, hardworking, and shy and quiet when first meeting people.
  • Common discipline techniques include teaching respect for their elders.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Finland.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling and babysitting younger siblings or relatives.
  • Usually both parents share the childrearing responsibilities.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day. There are municipal day care centers available so mothers can work full time.
  • Most applicants obtain their driving license at age 18.
  • A driving license is not difficult to obtain, but it is expensive.
  • It takes approximately over one year obtain a full driving license in Finland.
  • The steps involved in obtaining a driving license in Finland include:
    • Practical lessons and driving lessons
    • Driving and theoretical test
    • Initial license is obtained – sufficient to apply to program
    • Within a year must learn additional skills at driving school such as nighttime driving and driving on slippery roads
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice driving using their parents’ car; once they have started working they will save money with the intention of buying a car.
  • Most cars have manual transmissions.
  • English is not compulsory, though most choose to study English from age 9 – making a total of 10 years of study. The teaching is focused on written skills and grammar.
  • Approximately 30% of young women continue their studies at university.
  • Those who do not attend university study at a vocational institute. It is very common to make the choice to work for some years before continuing to study at the university level.
  • The academic year in Finland starts in September and ends in May.
  • The educational opportunities of the Au Pair in America program are not important to Finnish applicants.
  • The most common inoculations are tetanus, diphtheria, polio, mumps, measles, whooping cough, and German measles.
  • Most young women are not inoculated and tested for TB (tuberculosis).
  • Finland has a free health service.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis.
  • “Eating disorders” are not common, but do occur. School nurses often alert parents to eating disorders.
  • Most young people in Finland eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is becoming more common with the younger generation.
  • A typical Finnish diet includes meat, fish, berries and vegetables.
  • The most common religion in Finland is Lutheran.
  • Most young people in Finland do not practice their religion regularly. However, for the Finns Christmas is very important. It is celebrated with the family for many days.
  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members will 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
Sweden