AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Latvia. 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
- Many Latvian teenagers become very independent in their teens and help out with younger siblings because parents generally work long hours.
- A new characteristic of Latvian family life is that parents leave to work in another country and children are left with grandparents and relatives.
- Most students earn money by looking after children in their free time, and also as helpers at summer camps and kindergartens.
- Generally, Latvian families have 1 or 2 children.
- Children are taught to be independent and are responsible for daily household duties. Many families have country houses and gardens where children can experience peaceful summer holidays and can help out in the garden.
- Even when children leave home to study, they return home every weekend to be with their family.
- In private kindergartens, English is taught early on, but in most cases English classes start in secondary school.
- Parents often choose to take kids to private English classes.
- English is also self-taught, because children are surrounded by English music and movies in their daily lives.
- The minimum driving age in Latvia is 18. Most applicants obtain their driving license at this age.
- The process of obtaining the license is at least 3-6 months long. Completing a full professional driving course and a driving school exam are required before the candidate is allowed to take the state exam.
- Latvian drivers experience a variety of weather conditions, including rain, snow and ice.
- Education in Latvia is free and compulsory until the age of 18.
- Most high school graduates enroll into university or college.
- After the second or third year of university, students tend to take an academic year out to participate in cultural exchange programs or study in another country.
- Latvia’s healthcare system is based on an all-inclusive insurance system. State subsidized healthcare is available to all Latvian citizens who are covered by this general health insurance program.
- Regular medical check-ups are provided by schools at every stage of education.
- It is common to visit the dentist on a regular basis.
- Latvia is a small nation, but Latvians are very proud of their heritage.
- Latvians are hard working, polite and responsible.
- Latvians can be reserved when you first meet them, but they are friendly and helpful after they get to know you – friendships are genuine.
- Aleksandrs was a famous Latvian explorer. He moved to Venezuela in 1939. His most famous discovery was Angel Falls and he named the river, from which Angel Falls flows, Gauja. He also named 3 other rivers in Venezuela after Latvian Rivers such as Daugava (Riga), Venta (Kuldiga, Ventspils) and Ogre.
- The capital of Latvia, Riga, is the largest city in the Baltic States and is famous for some of the best Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.
- Walter Zapp invented and built the first Minox”Spy Camera” in Latvia.
- How are you? Kātev iet?
- Fine, thanks. Paldies – labi.
- My name is… Mani sauc…
- Nice to meet you. Prieks iepazīties.
- Thank you. Paldies.
“The Au Pair in America program is well organized and has developed a great support system for its participants. For me it was one of the best years of my life!” – Jana, au pair from Latvia
“You know when someone says – IT CHANGED MY LIFE!!! So, this is the case! I never thought I could gain so much being an Au Pair in America!” – Anda, au pair from Latvia
“It’s a wonderful experience! I would definitely do that one more time if I could! This year made me a better person.”– Madara, au pair from Latvia
“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