AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Germany. 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
- The idea of being an au pair is a very familiar concept in Germany, yet Germans themselves rarely have a nanny or au pair as parents often rely on the willingness of their older children to help with younger family members.
- Germans often gain their childcare experience by babysitting for family members and neighbors, doing internships in kindergartens, or helping out at youth clubs.
- Young people in Germany often start babysitting at the age of 13 or 14, as they see it as a great way to increase their pocket money… and some cities even offer babysitter classes for babysitters-to-be!
- For most applicants and their families, a close family life is very important. Even though most young Germans are relatively independent, they enjoy participating in family reunions, going on vacation, and celebrating religious events together.
- Germans are used to helping out around the house.
- Nowadays, it is becoming more common to grow up in Germany with a single mum or a single dad, so young Germans are becoming more used to living in non-traditional family environments and are therefore quite flexible.
- English is primarily taught as a first foreign language starting at the age of 10/11. Therefore, most applicants already have at least 8-9 years of English before they apply for the Au Pair in America program.
- German youngsters are happy to participate in language camps or school exchanges in order to improve their language skills.
- Due to the relatively high language standard, applicants do not have to take an English test to apply to become an au pair, but they are interviewed in English (for at least 30 minutes) to test their language skills.
- To obtain a full driver’s license in Germany, you have to be 18 and attend theoretical and practical classes, which conclude with a final test. The process is much lengthier and costly than in the U.S.
- Germans are allowed to apply for their “learner’s license” at 17, which allows them to drive before the age of 18 as long as they are accompanied by a parent/adult.
- Despite the young age of some German applicants, they have often been driving for a full year before obtaining their license and are used to driving in different weather environments, including in snow/ice and rain/fog.
- The school system in Germany is divided into 3 different levels, which means that students can leave school after 9 (Hauptschulabschluss), 10 (Realschulabschluss) or 13 years (Abitur) of schooling.
- To adapt to the international educational system and to remain competitive, a large part of German regions have started to reduce the 13 year option to 12 years.
- A lot of young Germans decide to do a gap year abroad after finishing high school. This enables them to improve their intercultural understanding and language skills and gives them more time to decide what to study.
- Germany has a universal multi-payer health care system with two main types of health insurance: “Statutory Health Insurance” and “Private Health Insurance.”
- The statutory health insurance covers most conditions, and the cost of this insurance is deducted from the monthly salary (about 13%).
- It is common to visit the dentist on a regular basis.
- Germans are often seen as open-minded, ambitious, polite, responsible and reliable.
- Germans are interested in world affairs and/or cultural exchange.
- Germans generally have a strong passion for soccer and are very proud of being the World Champions in 2014!
- Even though the country is not that large (357,168.94 square km), you will find many different accents and dialects by traveling from north to south, and from east to west.
- One of the best known quotes that shows the closeness of the United States and Germany is the one by John F. Kennedy: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (1963), with which he expressed U.S. support in the reconstruction of Germany.
- How are you?: Wie gehts dir?
- Fine, thanks.: Gut, danke!
- My name is…: Ich heiße…
- Nice to meet you.: Schön, dich kennen zu lernen!
- Thank you: Danke!
“My year as an au pair has been the best year of my life so far. I became part of an American family, which was the greatest gift for me.”– Carolin – au pair from Germany
“I think it’s important for a young person to be away from home for a while. It makes you stronger and more independent. I would recommend it to everybody.”– Melanie – au pair from Germany
“Take this chance as it will be the best year of your life!”– Christina – au pair from Germany
“I like the opportunity to see American life as an insider, to come to know the traditions and customs, approach to bringing up children, managing the household, learning peculiarities of eveyday language, American cuisine, and just the chance to hear from the children I love you.”
Ekaterina, au pair