AU PAIR CULTURE QUESTS
Languages: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official – but locally used)
The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Portugal. 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
- Common discipline techniques include withholding privileges.
- Physical discipline is not common in Portugal.
- Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, babysitting, and working in summer camps.
- Usually both parents share the childrearing responsibilities.
- It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.
Au Pairs in General
- The idea of being an au pair is a new concept in Portugal.
- Applicants from Portugal are motivated by travel and language opportunities.
- The job potential of an au pair improves upon her return to Portugal.
- Young people in Portugal have the freedom of their family to socialize and date, though Portuguese parents are very protective of their children. The normal procedure for children is to complete high school, attend university, find a job, buy a house and get married. Only after you complete those things would you then move out of your parents house.
- Curfews are not common.
- Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores.
- Nudity is not common.
- Portuguese describe themselves as caring, flexible, and fluent in English.
- English is a compulsory subject in school beginning at age 9, though some schools begin as early as age 6, and continue through the end of high school.
- Courses are focused on writing, reading, speaking, and listening.
- Obtaining a driving license is a rigorous process in Portugal.
- The minimum driving age is age 18. Most applicants obtain their driving license at age 18.
- A driving license is difficult to obtain.
- The steps involved in obtaining a driving license in Portugal include:
- Theoretical written test with traffic rules and scenarios
- Driving lessons
- Practical test
- The International driving permit is available.
- Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice driving using their parents’ car. It is common for parents to buy their child a car while they are in university.
- Most cars have manual transmissions.
- A large percentage of young women attend university.
- Those who do not attend university start work or enter into a trade.
- The academic year in Portugal starts in September and ends in June.
- The educational opportunities of the Au Pair in America program are fairly important to applicants.
- The most common inoculation is tetanus.
- Most young women are inoculated and tested for TB (tuberculosis).
- Portugal has a free health service.
- Most young women do not visit the dentist on a regular basis as it is expensive.
- “Eating disorders” are not common, but do occur.
- Most young people in Portugal eat meat.
- Vegetarianism is not common.
- A typical Portuguese diet includes rich, filling, and full-flavored dishes made from seafood, fish, meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
- The most common religion in Portugal is Catholic.
- Most young people in Portugal do not practice their religion regularly.
Telephone & Internet
- 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.
“By inviting a person from another country to join our family, live with us, and learn about our culture, we actually learn so much about ourselves, how our own culture and way of life appear through the lens of someone new.”
Belle, host parent
“The flexibility the program affords us is outstanding. With other child care options, I always felt I was accommodating their schedule instead of my own.”
Jill, host parent