From Walvis Bay, to au pairing in Netherlands
18 February 2021 | People
Jane-Ley Antoncich; Au pair; “People have this notion that when you are an au pair you live a glamorous life, but that’s not the case.”
Jane-Ley Antoncich (23) recently returned from overseas where she spent a year and a half as an au pair. She was stationed in Voorburg, Netherlands, where she took care of three children.
She says there are a number of ways to apply to become an au pair. “I know of two options. You could apply online through websites or Facebook groups. However, when applying on these sites, you take quite a risk as there is a possibility that the family might not be legit. This route is also quite expensive.”
She says the second option is where by applying through an agency. “I applied through an agency and they gave us training in South Africa, prepared us and matched us with families. Through this process, you meet with families via Skype and get to know each other. It’s not always the case that you say ‘yes’ to the first family you’re matched with, as there are quite a few interviews with potential families.”
She said the majority of the expenses are covered by the host family. “All I had to pay was half of my plane ticket, my requirement fees, and my host family covered the rest.”
Antoncich said that some of the requirements when applying are that you need to be older than 18 and that you have a grade 12 certificate. “You may need to have a driver’s licence, but this applies only to certain countries, although it’s always a plus if you have one.”
“I had a lovely experience as I had a lovely family. It was truly a match made in heaven. Not everyone is so lucky to get their perfect match when it comes to families. There were a few ups and downs, but we had a good understanding.
“I’ve spoken to a few ladies who did not have the same experience as I did. Sometimes matching with a family can be a match made in hell.”
She said that due to Covid-19, she stayed a bit longer. “When the pandemic struck, borders closed and I had to wait it out. But I had such a good time, I wasn’t even counting the months. I travelled a lot, through Austria and Germany, and also visited Paris and Amsterdam. It was amazing for me to get on a bus and then my next destination is Austria or Paris. I met many people and we would share our cultures as well.”
Antoncich said that as an au pair her highlight was seeing the children she looked after achieve their goals. “I took care of three children, two boys and a girl. The oldest was eight and the youngest was three.
“A highlight during my time in the Netherlands, is definitely the little ones’ achievements, for instance when they passed a test they studied hard for. It was great to have them make me part of it.”
She added the people often have this notion that when you are an au pair you live a glamorous life. “But it’s hard work. You think it’s an easy way to see the world; it’s not as simple. It requires dedication.”
Antoncich is of the opinion that a gap year can do wonders if you are not sure about where you are headed. “This gap year made me think hard about if I see myself as a teacher later in life, or a caregiver. It gave me an idea as what I need and can work towards. It definitely made me realise that the world is my oyster and that there is so much to explore and learn about, instead of just giving up and allowing yourself to be stuck.”
She says that she recommends young people to do au pair work. “For me it was a great way to see the world. But you must have a passion for children. It’s not a vacation. You need to realise that you are going to be assisting other people. Through this experience you can learn and realise a lot – it’s as if your eyes are really opened for the first time. You get to push yourself, and you get to see what you really are capable of.”