This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
It’s never too late to follow your dreams.
My mom is actually really cool. If she isn’t a thoroughbred mama, we explore Ireland together, admire the nature in Iceland or she spontaneously decides to go to England as an Granny Au-Pair – in her mid fifties. But I mean, if not now, when?
Since the middle of March, she lives in a little suburb of London in the UK with a wonderful family and two gorgeous kids. Since my mom left for her adventure, I had many people asking me about how she is doing, as she is not only an inspiration for people her age, but also for people my age. Many admire her strength and bravery to leave her daily life and go after her dreams. Since yesterday, she is back home – with mixed feelings after her awesome time in England. I sent her some questions, while she was still there and today, you get her answers!
- 1 How did you come up with the idea to go abroad as a Granny Au-Pair?
- 2 Where are you at and how is the family you stay with?
- 3 How did you organize your stay? Did you have an agency by your side or not?
- 4 Many told me, that they admire your bravery to go abroad: weren’t you scared?
- 5 How are you going with the foreign language?
- 6 How do you like your English way of life?
- 7 What is different in England in comparison to Germany?
- 8 Are you not homesick?
- 9 Your personal conclusion as a Granny Au-Pair?
How did you come up with the idea to go abroad as a Granny Au-Pair?
About six years ago, I watched a documentary about Michaela Hansen, a German from Hamburg, who founded an agency for Granny Au-Pairs, which arrange the exchange for families and Granny Au-Pairs. Since then I couldn’t let go of the idea and when life gave me the opportunity, I took it and faced the challenge.
*Granny Au-Pair: a Granny Au-Pair like an Au-Pair, but could be seen rather as a second grandma. This is a good opportunity for people who would like to do a sabbatical, or would like to fulfill their dream of living abroad.
Where are you at and how is the family you stay with?
Not because of an agency, but out of a really big co-incidence, I met a wonderful family with two amazing kids: a girl and a boy, who are four and one year old today. The mother is German, and the father is English. That made the start in the new country with a new language a lot easier, since they could sometimes help me out with translations. The family lives in a suburb of London in England, which gave me possibility to explore the metropolis every now and then.
How did you organize your stay? Did you have an agency by your side or not?
I did an self-organized stay, without an agency. But you can find many different agencies online, with whom you can discuss the most important questions about your time abroad. For instance you need to check out what to do with your health insurance, your pension etc. or need to get answers to questions of your working hours and pay. I just rang up all the relevant places and asked about my opportunities.
Many told me, that they admire your bravery to go abroad: weren’t you scared?
I wasn’t really scared, but I had many questions about what was expected of me as a Granny Au-Pair and what my expectations were of my time abroad. It was important to me, that the family lived in Europe, so I could quickly fly home in case of an emergency. Also, I needed to find out what happens in the event of leaving earlier. In the end, it was most important to me to trust my guts. I already had a good feeling after the first Email exchanges with the family, which made my worries disappear quickly. When the chemistry between the family and the Granny Au-Pair is right, and you treat each other with respect and tolerance, everyone can learn from each other and have a great experience.
How are you going with the foreign language?
Since I studied English the last time 40 years ago, I struggled a bit in the beginning. But with the help of the family, me being brave and open minded, it got better and better. It is important to go out and to be open towards other people. My time at the library, doing sports, being at the playground and working as an intern at a local kindergarten helped me a lot to improve. I always had very kind and helpful people around me, who didn’t mind some grammatical mistakes or a missing word. With body language and a smile, it all works ot just fine.
How do you like your English way of life?
My life is good as a Granny Au-pair, as I don’t need to worry about my flat, electricity, water etc. The people I met so far, were laid-back and sociable. People place great value on social interaction. In England, you go out for dinner or have a beer in the local pub more often. In churches and libraries, they often offer a morning tea for a tiny amount of money, to which everyone is invited, so you can easily get into a conversation or just socialize for lunch.
What is different in England in comparison to Germany?
The English like the royals and celebrate their queen. They love to eat cup cakes, Viktoria sponge or scones with jam or cream, always with a cup of tea or coffee. I like the ides of ‘tea-time’, as you get together and it’s a nice way to have a daily exchange with your family or friends. In the supermarket, there are hardly any queues, and if there are, no one really cares. Also, even the tiniest amount of money is being paid by card. Only how the recycling is handled could be a lot better in England. There is a lot of rubbish on the ground, even though there are more than enough bins around.
Are you not homesick?
Of course I missed my home, but because of all the new impressions, the time with the kids, the good conversations, many excursions and the internship at the kindergarten, I was well occupied and time just passed by so fast.
Your personal conclusion as a Granny Au-Pair?
The time as a Granny Au-Pair enriched my life so much. I would always do it again, as these are such unique experiences, which I will have for a lifetime.