Friday, December 16, 2011

LET'S SEND TO JAIL THIS MONSTER WHO HIT A PUPPY TO DEATH IN FRONT OF A CHILD!

THIS IS A LINK TO A PETITION TO CONVICT A NURSE WHO HIT A PUPPY TO DEATH IN FRONT OF A CHILD IN BRASIL THIS WEEK! PLEASE HELP AND SIGN EVERYONE!

http://www.peticaopublica.com/PeticaoListaSignatarios.aspx?pi=Yorkshir

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=308101962554812&set=p.308101962554812&type=1&ref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=261564417240222&set=a.146708642059134.32469.100001599972300&type=1&ref=nf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAajVtMjN6g

Monday, October 10, 2011

THE GOOD SIDE OF BEING AN AU PAIR

After alerting the new Au Pairs about the BAD side of things, I MUST say something about the GOOD side of the program...

In my 2 years as an Au Pair I made friendships all over the world and I will cherish them for life! Some were my neighbors, some were my classmates, some were in my cluster and some I met along the way.
The friends you make are the most important part of our program, they will become your siblings and even your parents whichever the situation they are needed.
While being an Au Pair you get the chance to travel around the US and I must say, you will have a BLAST! I loved every single one of my trips with 'My Girls', memories for life... Even though flying is easier and faster, ROAD TRIPS are the BEST!!!

My family was the nicest family ever, all my friends loved them and everyone always wanted to spend the weekends at 'my house'. They really treated me as part of their family.  If you are as lucky as I was, you will have a great experience.

Going to school can also be fun. If you feel like you already know everything they are teaching, go anyway! There's always something new to learn...

The Au Pair Cluster Meetings are also a very good and an important part of your experience (as long as you don't have any complaints or problems with your host family). It is a known FACT that the Local Coordinator will ALWAYS give the preference to the host family but, if you get a good LCC, she will at least 'hear your side of the story' (even though in the end the family will always be right). At the meetings you get to meet all the Au Pairs in your area and some outings are very nice, we always had fun at our cluster meetings.

PS: This post is 'under construction' and will be updated as often as I get feedback from former Au Pairs!

I would like to THANK some very SPECIAL girls in my life, you all made my experience AWESOME!

Soraya (Brasil), Daiana (Brasil), Leonore (Germany), Deborah (Germany), Neila (Brasil), Carolina (Brasil), Daniela (Brasil), Mariana (Brasil), Elaine (Brasil), Cynthia (France), Elise (France), Aline (France), Aline (Brasil), Michele (Brasil), Katrin (Austria), Fernanda (Brasil), Pamela (Chile), Rebeca (Brasil), Franciane (Brasil), Jana (Germany), Maira (Brasil), Tatjana (Austria) Marie (USA).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

HOW TO CHOOSE AN AU PAIR FAMILY

Be extra careful when choosing your Au Pair family, remember, one year of your life is at steak here.
Think, rethink. Ask, re-ask. Be wise and NEGOTIATE EVERYTHING!

Do NOT give up 'the essentials'!
Look for a Monday-Friday job and make sure you are off before 8pm, otherwise you won't be able to do anything else.
NEVER accept a CURFEW (if your parents don't give you a curfew, why should they? And let's face it, we are not 15 anymore)!
Do not accept over 3 children and do not accept children under 2 years old (specially newborns, they don't go to school and require full time work which means you won't be able to go to school either).
Do NOT accept special needs children (as a Physical Therapy major I would say, it's way to much work and not even 10x the weekly Au Pair salary would be worth it).

Don't worry, you are not 'demanding' anything out of the ordinary. The agency and the family know that better than yourself. These requests will only make your experience a little bi more pleasant. Be aware of families that promise you everything you want and after 2 weeks, they change their mind and refuse to give you what was previously promised. Do not be afraid to ask and be forward with the family and if possible, ask everything on e-mail so you have proof of what they promised you if you do need a rematch within your year.
Ask if you have a television, DVD and/or a computer in your bedroom or if you are allowed to use theirs.

It's very common for the Au Pair to have their own bathroom so, ask about it! It's also common for us to be able to have our friends over for visits and/or sleep overs. DO NOT forget to ask about this! Not being allowed to have your friends over might turn your year into HELL.

Having a car in the US is crucial if you do not live in a big city such as NYC, LA, VEGAS, BOSTON, MIAMI, etc. They barely have public transportation and the train schedule is terrible in small of further towns. Without a car around, you have NO LIFE!

If you are a night owl, look for a job where you can work nights and have your days free to do whatever you please but, be aware that in this case, you won't be able to hang out or go out with your friends often.

Don't forget to always look for a family that needs you Monday-Friday. Also make sure you do not work more than 45hrs a week (Anything over that is extra) and also, do not work weekends to fill in for hours the family didn't need your help during the weekdays, it was their choice to give you off  and you do not have to fill in for that (if they get a day off and give you that same day off, that's their problem! Do NOT work to pay those hours).

ASK ALL QUESTIONS BEFORE COMING TO THE COUNTRY AND AVOID A FUTURE REMATCH!

AU PAIR RIGHTS

• The Au Pair is NOT supposed to help with ANY household chores unless related to the children (children's laundry, tide up the kitchen after feeding the children and tide up their bedrooms and playrooms).
• The Au Pair should NOT do anything else other than chores related to the children, you are here to care for the children and you are NOT a cleaning lady or housekeeper.
• Do NOT be embarrassed or afraid to ask for your paycheck because more often than not, the family will 'FORGET' to pay you.
• Be respected.
• Never work more than 10 hours a day. Regardless if you worked 10hrs a day or 45hrs a week, the family CANNOT have you working on a weekend to fill up those hours (they know that but often pretend they don't). Always ask about your work schedule before matching and DO NOT work a MINUTE past that time unless they pay you extra ( U$10 - U$15 an hour).
• Do NOT work over 45hrs a week, unless you want the extra money.
• If not all weekends, you must have at least one whole free weekend a month.
• 2 weeks PAID vacation (1 week scheduled by the family and 1 by yourself).
• Individual bedroom
• Basic health insurance
• A DECENT local coordinator that will actually help the Au Pair and not always be by the side of the family against the Au Pair.
• Go to all Au Pair meetings through out the year to be able to get the reimbursement check.
• Go to school and take at least 6 credits or 60hrs to get the reimbursement check.
• You DO NOT NEED to care for the family's pets! That's their obligation, NOT yours! You are NOT a DOG-WALKER or a VET, you are an AU PAIR.

AU PAIR DUTIES

• Take care of the children
• Keep the children healthy
• Keep the children safe
• Entertain the children at all times
• Feed the children following the family rules
• Be always prepared and never tired during your work hours
• Follow ALL the family rules regarding the children
• Take the children to school and extra curricular activities
• Arrange play-dates for the children

AU PAIR PROGRAM EXTENSION

The minimum duration of the Au Pair program is 12 months but, since june 2004 the American Government allows 6, 9 and 12 months extensions. It will depend if the family and the au pair are willing to renew the contract with the agency and automatically renew the visa.The Au pair can opt between keep the current family or REMATCH and change.

PS: There is also a 25th 'Grace Month' for tourism for the Au Pairs who renew for 12 months (you do NOT get any payment for this month). This is NOT a benefit you get from the agency, it's your right as a J1 Visa holder.

U$500 SCHOLARSHIP

The scholarship is a condition of the government to make the program look more like an exchange student than a work and travel program.

It's often used on ESL classes that will vary between 2 to 4 months (ANYTHING else will cost you a lot more). I MUST say that even though it's a requirement, it's NOT the MAIN objective of the program, you are here to WORK, not to STUDY. You CANNOT apply to a university and take classes perusing a major unless you leave the Au Pair agency and change your J1 Visa to a student Visa (F1) and pay for school yourself.

The courses the schools offer to the Au Pairs are CONTINUING ED CLASSES and will NOT ADD anything to your scholar curriculum, maybe your parents can help you out and you can pay the difference on the U$500 to take better classes. The scholarship is for exclusive educational purpose and CANNOT under any circumstances be used for something else.

The location of your classes must be the nearest educational facility to 'your new home'. However, if you have more that one option, you must choose the one that fits better to your WORK SCHEDULE as the classes are a complement to your WORK program and NOT AT ALL the main goal.

WHAT THE AU PAIR PROGRAM INCLUDES?

The program will offer:

• Work at a family home with a weekly salary ($195,75 which is NOTHING)
• Bedroom (sometimes shared with the children, sometimes individual but most of the times you are left with the basement)
• All meals
• U$ 500,00 To spend towards your education (which is also NOTHING, the amount they offer can barely pay for ESL classes)
• J1 Visa
• A car to use WHILE on duty (some families will lend you their car for your personal use)
• Bonus de U$ 500,00 para tentar pagar seus estudos durante o ano
• Visto válido por um ano, podendo ser estendido por, no máximo, mais um ano

IS THE AU PAIR PROGRAM THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU?

If you are tired of taking English classes that don't really teach you anything besides colors and numbers, if you can't afford to study abroad, if you want to take a break from your boredom, if you want to see other countries and meet new people and besides all that you love children, this is the right program for you.
Regardless which reason you have, knowing someone who was an Au Pair it's already a start, if you don't know anyone you can always come to me lol. I can help you not to SKYDIVE at just ANY family, besides explaining to you what the program is REALLY about.

So, why again?
Because you don't believe it can be THAT bad (until you become one).

Because you want to live abroad more than anything.
Because you want to take a 'break' of your BORING life.
Because you THINK that in a 'First World Country' you won't find corruption, falsity, theft, rudeness (high demand in the US and a few Americans are VERY freeloaders).

Be aware of what are your Duties and NEVER EVER do ANYTHING just to be nice because most of the families will become TOO COMFORTABLE and that will become one of your duties (if you give them a hand, they will ask for your arm and assume you should also give them your legs).

It's hard and extremely stressful, sometimes even depressing but you are a believer and think a year will go by fast. It really does... It really does go by fast when you spend your days PRAYING for the weekend to come faster (that's if your one of the lucky ones who don't work WEEKENDS). Your new FRIENDS will become you 'SIBLINGS' and only they will help you go through the year (only 10% find a good family and have a good experience).

Good luck... You will need it!!!

WHO CAN BE AN AU PAIR?

To be an Au Pair, you need the following qualifications:

• 18 to 26 years old
• At least 200 hrs working with children
• Intermediary to Advanced English level.
• Be a high school graduate
• Be flexible and independent
• VALID Drivers License
• Single with NO children of your own
• Be healthy

WHAT IS AN AU PAIR?

The program 'Au Pair' it's a DIFFERENT category of the 'Exchange Student' program we all hear about. You travel abroad, learn their language and culture while WORKING.
On the contrary of what the exchange program agencies tell us (the au pairs and nannies), this program is ENTIRELY focused on WORK, NOT JUST HELP them out with the children (the families don't know the agency promise us an EDUCATIONAL program and delivers a WORK program instead). You are only 'allowed' to go to school IF your classes don't interrupt your work hours and if they do (I am sorry to say), YOU WILL NOT GO TO SCHOOL.
This program is about taking total care of the children while the parents are at work, it's very common in Europe and is regulated by the US Government.
The family you will live with will become your 'Host Family' for the period you stay as their Au Pair. In 90% of the cases, you will NOT be considered a PART OF THEIR FAMILY but the BABYSITTER (If you are in the lucky 10% like I was, you will match with a great family and be actually a family friend).

If you want to come to 'meet Americans', forget about it! All classes the J1 visa allows you to take are only for foreign people like yourself and not even the teachers are Americans.