AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Estonia. 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.
Child Care Skills
- Most Estonians gain their childcare experience by looking after younger family members or babysitting for family friends or neighbors.
- Some applicants volunteer or take on an internship in a kindergarten.
- Many take a free “childcare provider” course and once finished, are allowed to work as “extra help” in kindergartens or in private childcare centers.
- Young people in Estonia are quite independent. It is common to live away from home when studying or working.
- Families are small in general (1-2 children), with both parents working.
- Estonians are used to helping with household chores and consider this normal.
- Most students take English classes and levels of fluency are generally high.
- As English levels are quite high in Estonia, applicants do not have to take a pre-assessment English test when applying for the program. Interviewers assess English levels over the phone or during first meetings and then conduct the majority of the interview in English.
- They are used to watching movies and TV in English with Estonian subtitles.
- Obtaining a driving license in Estonia is a lengthy and expensive process.
- Applicants take theoretical classes and driving lessons (40 hours minimum) with an instructor. They are then allowed to take the official state driving tests, which are theoretical and practical.
- Applicants have to take an eye test prior to taking their driving tests and they need a certificate from their doctor which states that they are fit to drive.
- Compulsory education finishes at 9th grade (age 15/16) and students can continue with high school, go on to a technical college, take up an apprenticeship or seek employment. High school finishes at 12th grade (age 18/19) and students can then go on to study at university.
- Parents put a lot of focus on their children’s education from a young age and parents like their children to have varied hobbies and interests.
- The option of being an au pair is now common in Estonia. They like the idea of discovering new cultures and improving their English skills. Work & travel programs, volunteering and travelling abroad are also common options for a gap year.
- Estonia has a national health service, which is free and all-inclusive up until the age of 18. After age 18, is then provided through work or the unemployment agency.
- Regular medical checkups are provided by schools at every stage of education.
- Estonians usually have a family GP who has access to their full medical history.
- Independent, mature, dependable, trustworthy.
- Estonians are very attentive, and they are good at communicating.
- Patriotic (after decades of Russian occupation, they are proud to be Estonian!)
- Estonians love technology and are very knowledgeable when it comes to technology. Wireless Internet is available almost everywhere and Skype was invented in Estonia.
- Estonia is one of the Baltic countries together with Latvia and Lithuania. However, the Estonian language is not related to Latvian and Lithuanian but it is actually more related to Finnish.
- Estonia only has an area of 45,227 sq km. Texas is more than 15 times larger!
- How are you? Kuidas läheb?
- Fine, thanks. Suurepäraselt, tänan.
- My name is… Minu nimi on…
- Nice to meet you! Meeldib sinuga tutvuda!
- Thank you. Tänan.
“A life changing experience!” – Katrin, au pair from Estonia
“This experience made me more aware of the local community.” – Kersti, au pair from Estonia
“I had an amazing time living with the family, making some great friends for life, improving my English and traveling around the USA.”– Jane, au pair from Estonia
“You can not beat the flexibility of the Au Pair program. My au pairs have been so great that my friends want to steal them and take them home!”
Catherine , host parent