AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
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.
Child Care Skills
- Applicants usually obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, tutoring and babysitting younger siblings or relatives.
- Many young people are experienced in leading groups, for example sport teams, clubs and camps.
- Applicants are usually motivated by opportunities to improve their English, travel and because they love children.
- A typical Finnish family is a nuclear family where both parents are equal.
- It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day – municipal day care centers allow mothers to work full time.
- Young people in Finland have a lot of freedom from their family to socialize and date.
- English is not compulsory, though most study English from age 9 to graduation. Teaching focuses on written skills and grammar.
- Finnish people usually have very good English skills but they might be a bit shy and unsure about talking in English at first.
- TV shows and movies are shown in their original languages in Finland, therefore Finnish people tend to learn a lot of English through TV and movies.
- Most applicants obtain their driving license at age 18. A driving license is not difficult to obtain, but it is very expensive.
- Finnish people usually attend driving school which includes theory and driving lessons.
- Parent-taught driver education is also possible and cheaper, but requires separate licenses and alterations to the car.
- In Finland children start school at age 7 and follow 9 years of basic education. At 16 they may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track or a vocational track. The academic year starts in September and ends in May.
- Education in Finland is free with no tuition fees and with fully subsidized meals served to full-time students until secondary school.
- Tertiary education is divided into university and polytechnic. Universities and polytechnics have entrance exams and not all applicants are accepted.
- Finland has a free health care service.
- Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is very common as it is free of charge until age 18.
- Every municipality has a responsibility to offer healthcare services to their residents and it is usually provided in municipal healthcare centers.
- Finns describe themselves as honest, hardworking, reliable and independent but also shy and quiet when first meeting people.
- Finns love sports. Many Finnish children play football, ice-hockey or floorball after school.
- Nature is really important to Finnish people. Nature is the place where Finns go to spend time with their friends and families and just to enjoy the views and the silence.
- It is a normal to have a sauna in your house, even in apartments. There are about 2.2 million saunas in Finland, 1 for every 2.5 people.
- Finland is a country with thousands of lakes (about 188,000 lakes).
- In the summer there are days when the sun never sets and Finland is known as “the land of the midnight sun.”
- How are you? Mitä kuuluu?
- Fine, thanks. Hyvää, kiitos.
- My name is… Minun nimeni on…
- Nice to meet you. Mukava tavata.
- Thank you. Kiitos.
“It’s a life changing experience..go for it!” – Heidi, au pair from Finland
“My year as an au pair was absolutely the best year of my life so far. I loved my host family and I’ve visited them three times since I moved back to Finland. As an au pair you’ll get to be part of your host family.”– Hanna, au pair from Finland
“It is a great experience and opportunity. You get to be independent and learn about another country and culture. American people are really kind and supportive, and you will definitely make new friends if you are open minded.” – Paula, au pair from Finland
“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