Being an Au Pair in Spain.

I cannot even tell you how many emails and comments I’ve gotten asking me about this topic. So I figured a post would be an easy way for people to find the information they want quickly and in one place. So here goes:

1. How did you find your family?

My family actually found me. I had made a profile on aupairworld.net and they messaged me through there.

2. How did you decide which family to live with?

This was actually a much harder decision than I thought it would be. Originally, my school was in Alcalá  de Henares so I was looking for families there. I had found a great one and was whatsapping constantly with the mom when I got the news that I had been switched to a school in Majadahonda (the complete opposite side of Madrid). I obviously had to inform the family that due to the circumstances, I could no longer commit to them. So my search began all over again. Some families didn’t pan out because they wanted someone who could take the kids to school and pick them up in the evenings, and that just wasn’t a possibility with my work schedule. I ended up being torn between two families, one of which had been the one to initiate contact with me. I decided to skype with both families in order to help me make a better informed decision. This was definitely the best thing I could have done because the decision became very clear to me after speaking with the families. I chose the one that had contacted me first and it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made.

3. How should I decide which family is best for me?

The biggest thing I could tell you regarding choosing your family is to make sure that you are all clear about what your responsibilities with them entail. If you don’t want to work on Friday evenings and the weekends, make that clear from the beginning. If you want to be able to travel during holiday breaks and long weekends, make it known. Ask if they would be okay with you having friends from back home visit and stay with you. Ask what they expect you to do with the children. Do they just want you to speak and play with them in English or do they want you to give them formal lessons? Also, make sure you inform them about our BEDA classes. Mine were in the afternoons on Fridays so I always made sure to give my Spain mom a heads up that I would be arriving later those days.

The next thing is asking about accommodation. Is your room next to everyone else’s or in another part of the house? Do you have your own bathroom or do you share? Are you expected to buy your own groceries or eat with the family? I loved that my room was in the basement so I felt like I really had my own space. I also had my own bathroom, which was a definite bonus. I always ate dinner with the family, and I loved it because I truly felt like I was another member of the family.

I’m also not big on going out or meeting friends for dinner or drinks during the week, so that was never an issue with me. My Spain family never said that I was expected to go home directly after work, but I always did. If once in awhile you’d like to take an evening to have dinner with your friends, make sure to tell your family that. I really don’t see too many people have an issue with that request.

To reiterate, the MAIN thing when choosing your family is that you both have clear ideas of what your responsibilities will be.

4. Is being an au pair really worth it?

The greatest decision I made regarding my Spain life was living with my Spain family. So yes, for me it was most definitely worth it. First, I became a part of a family. I gained 3 little brothers and 1 little sister. I gained two awesome parents. And I know that I will consider these people my family forever. I’m also the type of person that seriously loves kids, so I really liked being with and playing with the kids. Second, I was able to travel so much more and the way I wanted (i.e. staying in hotels rather than hostels) because I was able to save more money because I didn’t have to pay for rent or groceries.

5. Did you truly, really, honestly enjoy your au pair experience?

YES. People always seem to think that I’m not being truthful. But being an au pair was one of the greatest things I have ever done. No doubts. No regrets. I love my Spain family and it’s nice to know that I’ve made a bond with these people that will last the rest of my life.

 

If you have any other questions, please leave it below in a comment :-)

BEDA 2014-2015 APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN!

Just wanted to leave the link here on my blog for those interested in applying to the BEDA program:

http://www.ecmadrid.org/en/programs/beda-program/144-auxiliares-de-coversacion/475-solicitudes

I believe that it will be open until January 31st. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE APPLYING! If you’re accepted, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime :-)

Also, on the application there are spaces where it asks for a cell phone number and NIE number from Spain, if you’re applying from anywhere OUTSIDE of Spain, you don’t need to worry about this. But there are some people who apply from other programs in Spain who do have this information available, which is why there is that section in the application.

Beauty Travel Essentials.

This post, I think, is geared a bit more towards the ladies, but I’m sure some dudes could find some of these things helpful as well (maybe not the make-up part, but other stuff).

During my year abroad, I discovered a few holy grail products when it comes to traveling with all your beauty essentials (especially when trying to pack everything into one small carry-on sized bag). Here are some items and things that I found helpful, and hopefully  you will too. A lot of these products are going to be from LUSH, which is a brand that I love. And LUSH has several locations around the world, making it super convenient for travelers.

Before I get into the list of items, I would like to say that when I have a suitcase that I’ll be checking in, I prefer to stuff all my liquids/cosmetics into it mainly because I hate the hassle of having to take them out of my carry-on at security (especially if I already have to run my laptop through too). Also, if I’m checking the bag in, that doesn’t limit the amount of beauty products I can bring as much as a carry-on does :-)

Alright, so here’s my list:

1. Solid Shampoo

LUSH sells a great variety of solid shampoos. My favorite is Jumping Juniper. What’s great about solid shampoos is that they’re super tiny and weigh nothing. And the best part? You never have to worry about having that dreaded moment when you open your suitcase and feel gooey liquid all over your favorite clothes and shoes. Worst feeling ever and we all know we’ve been there once before. And don’t be worried that they don’t work as well as liquid shampoos, I find that I even prefer the solid shampoos to the liquid ones. And they last for about 80 washes, so no worries about them not lasting that long either.

2. Dry Shampoo

Sometimes, when you’re traveling, there just isn’t enough time to give your hair a good shampoo rinse…that is where dry shampoo saves the day. I recommend getting this at Sephora since they tend to sell travel size versions of various dry shampoos. Two of my favorites are Oscar Blandi and Batiste. Batiste isn’t available at Sephora, or at least, it wasn’t the last few times I went, so I recommend stocking up on that one before your trip (you can find it online and at Ulta).  I tend to prefer the Oscar Blandi one for traveling, however, since it’s a powder instead of a spray.

3. Solid Scrubs

Once again, LUSH has some great solid scrubs. I prefer scrubs to soap, mainly because I like to exfoliate every time I shower. My favorite from LUSH is the sugar scrub. It smells great and does the job of exfoliating gently wonderfully.

4. Shower Gel

You can always try and stock up on travel sizes of your favorite shower gel or buying travel sized containers and decanting your shower gel into one of them. I, however, prefer to use LUSH bars. Can you tell that I’m a LUSH fiend? My FAVORITE one ever is King of Skin. It’s ridiculously moisturizing…to the point of not even really needing lotion when you get out of the shower. It’s that amazing. And, once again, they are super easy to travel with. Just make sure you pack it in something like a tin container, or wrap it in tissue-like paper because they melt at high heat. I’ve never had an issue with it, but, better to be pre-cautious just in case.

5. Face Wash

When it comes to face wash, I’m super particular because I have sensitive skin and many face washes are prone to breaking me out (which is something one does NOT want while traveling). I have two face washes that I LOVE, so I’ll usually pick one and pour it into one of my travel sized containers and bring it with me. In case you’re wondering what my two favorite face washes are: Michael Todd True Organics Charcoal Detox and Clean and Clear Continuous Control. I use these with my Clarisonic Mia 2, which goes with me everywhere because I love it. Michael Todd also sells a lot of travel kits. They’re super convenient and I really can’t recommend them enough. I like things that are  natural and organic (pretty obvious with my LUSH obsession) mainly because I find that they work best for my skin and Michael Todd’s products are AMAZING. Oh and Michael Todd ships worldwide. SUPER convenient.

6. Make-Up

I’m not even ashamed to admit that there is no way in hell that I will travel anywhere without bringing my make-up along. Now, that being said, I don’t bring my entire make-up bag with me. I have a smaller cosmetics bag, where I pack my essentials. This includes: foundation (I use Dior’s Forever), ONE blush (I usually bring my MAC mineralize skinfinish in Cheeky Bronze because I find that I don’t really need bronzer with it. They don’t sell it anymore, but the current Soft and Gentle is pretty similar), ONE eyeshadow palette (My FAV is Classic Nude by Physician’s Formula), lip color (I prefer to use lip butters rather than lipstick so I’ll usually bring 2 of my Revlon lip butters), mascara, and last, but certainly not least, mattifying powder (I have an oily face, yo. Gotta keep that ish under control. My fav is by Makeup Forever). Now, along with all this, I bring 3 make-up brushes. My foundation brush, blush brush, and powder brush. I don’t bring an eyeshadow brush because I’m content using the one that comes with the palette. I know this all seems like a lot, but seriously, I fit it all in a small cosmetics bag.

I’ll usually also bring along make-up remover wipes because I like to use those before I use my clarisonic. As far as other things, like lotion and perfume, I usually dispense those into travel size containers.  LUSH does sell solid perfume, though, just sayin’.

I think that’s all for my travel beauty product essentials. Leave me a comment below with a product you absolutely can’t travel without! And ladies, please tell me I’m not the only one who brings make-up with her on her travels. Please.

I’ll be posting that Puerto Rico post I mentioned soon.

¡Hablamos Pronto!

Update.

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to write a really quick update on here to let you all know that I’ve been super behind in replying to emails and comments. I’ll be getting to the emails tomorrow so if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t responded, you should be getting a reply at some point this week.

It’s been so nice being home. I was only in Maryland for 6 days before I left for Puerto Rico, so I’ve been enjoying the old line state a lot more now that I’m back from PR. I’ll be writing a post about my vacation there later this week. And the day after I got back from Puerto Rico I went into DC to celebrate my friend’s bachelor(ette) party. It was SO much fun and it was the first time I was seeing my closest friends in a year!

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That’s pretty much it for now. I just wanted to write this to let you all know that I’ll be writing an actual post soon :-)

¡Hablamos pronto!

Italia Part 4 – Siena

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to make a post regarding Siena because we were only there for a few hours…and it sucked. I had, by far, the worst meal I have ever been served in my life there. I’m not exaggerating. But I’ll get to that part later.

This adventure starts with the journey of finding the damn bus station that we needed. True to form, Diana and I had done little research regarding where we needed to go to take the bus to Siena. We figured we’d follow the signs…ahahaha how stupid. I forgot that Europe doesn’t really believe in street signs and labels. After wandering aimlessly for awhile and asking for directions to the bus station twice, I finally spotted the thing as Diana and I were crossing another street. We made it 10 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. We bought our tickets (after dealing with some attitude from the ticket vendor) and were finally on the bus to Siena. The ride from Florence to Siena was pretty short. Diana and I passed the time listening to music on our ipods.

Once we arrived in Siena, we realized we had no idea what we wanted to do there. We figured we’d start by going to find the famous Piazza del Campo. Again, it took us a little longer than it should have to find it…and I wasn’t all that impressed by it once we did. I think I had built it up too much in my head and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Once we were done there, we went off to find food. We decided on a little place since the menu seemed decent enough. Oh man, we really should have just waited until we got back to Florence. We ordered our food (we each ordered pasta) and started to chat while we waited to be served. It should be noted that Diana’s back was facing the kitchen area, so I was the one with the view when the woman came out with our food. I tried to keep my facial reaction to a minimum, though I think Diana could tell that something was wrong. You see, I saw the woman walking towards us with what appeared to be lean cuisine. I shit you not. This was our food: More

Flight Woes.

I was so hoping so have a nice, relaxing travel back home…alas, it was not meant to be. My day got off to a rough start with the fact that the service that was taking me to airport got me there at 8:00, roughly an hour and a half before my flight. I usually like to be at the airport 2-3 hours before my flight. So I was speeding to the check-in desk and then later through security. By the time I got to my gate they had already started the boarding process.

However, our flight was scheduled to take off at 9:30, at we were still sitting on the plane at 10:00. At 10:15 the captain announced that the plane had mechanical issues and that the repair was estimated to take at least 2 hours. So we all had to be taken off the plane again along with our luggage. Now, in Spain, a lot of times you have to take a shuttle that takes you to your plane. This meant that I had to carry my carry-on up and down several flights of steps. It was no cake walk.

Since we were now 2 hours delayed, this meant I was going to miss my connecting flight in Charlotte. Unfortunately, the employees were of no help because they said they couldn’t do anything about connecting flights until they had a new estimated time of arrival. Suffice it say that there were some very pissed of flyers (myself included). They were nice enough to give us vouchers to buy snacks at the cafeteria so once I did that, I sat down on the floor and waited. Ultimately, our flight was delayed 5 hours. They announced that those of us that missed our connecting flights would be helped once we arrived to Charlotte. This meant that I had no idea whether I would be on a flight home when I arrived to Charlotte or if I would have to wait until the next day.

Now, let’s talk about the plane we were on. It was old. It was no wonder that there were mechanical issues. Also, this was the first time I’ve flown a 9 hour flight that didn’t have screens in each seat for people to pick their own in-flight entertainment. There was just one regular sized screen towards the front section of the plane. Then the movies they played were old. My face must have been one of sheer denial when I saw the beginning credits for SPEED began to play. I mean, I love Sandra Bullock, but maybe something recent like The Blind Side would have been a better choice. I wasn’t really interested in any of the films they played and I couldn’t really sleep because I was so anxious about getting a connecting flight which meant that the flight felt like an eternity to me.

Finally, after 9.5 hours of flying, we made it to Charlotte. However, we weren’t allowed off of the plane because the line at customs was completely full. So we waited another 20-30 minutes to be left on the plane and were greeted by a customs like that took about 30 minutes to get through. Once we all had our luggage, we were all running to the counters to see about our connecting flights. There were so many of us and we were causing such a commotion that a Charlotte employee asked, “Where are you all coming from?” To which we all screamed, “MADRID!” Finally, they had to make a separate area for us at the check-in counter. When it was my turn, the guy informed me that they had rebooked me for an 8:00 flight…it was currently 7:30. He proceeded to tell me to hurry because they were probably already boarding. I proceeded to run like a mad woman to security. I made it to my gate at 7:50, sweating and panting, only to be informed that my flight was delayed an hour.

Thanks to the delay, I was able to call my parents and inform them that I would finally be arriving in Maryland around 10:20…6 hours after my original arrival time. Thankfully, the flight from Charlotte to Baltimore was only an hour. Granted, by the time we landed, I had been awake for 22 hours, so even 5 minutes felt like an hour.

This whole experience may have put me off US Airways for life. I had never had an experience like this and I’d really prefer not to have a repeat. I must say, though, that after all of that mess, I have never been so insanely happy to finally be home.

Looking Back.

I’m sitting here on my bed, looking around at what has been my room for the past 9.5 months and I can’t believe that I’ll be heading home for the summer come tomorrow (by the time this publishes, I’ll be on a plane making my way to Charlotte, NC, where I catch my flight home to MD). This past year has been such an amazing learning and growing experience for me. I needed something that would push me out of my shell and this did exactly that. I think it’s so funny that when I tell the people I’ve met here in Spain that I’m shy, they all disagree with me and say that I’m not shy at all. That is, by far, my greatest accomplishment this past year.

Then there’s the fact that I always thought that I worked best with primary school aged children and I’ve learned here that I really enjoy and prefer working with secondary aged students. I’ve had such an amazing year with my students and will truly miss them over the summer. It was great to see their English improve over the year and feel like I was truly making a difference in their English education. I know that I’ll be really excited to be reunited with them come September. I have also been incredibly lucky in that I have bonded a great deal with the faculty at my school. I love that we are much more like a family than coworkers. It’s so nice to have that homey environment at work and it’s something that I value greatly. The teachers have me laughing constantly in the teacher’s lounge and during our merienda break and have been the best part of my experience at my school. I was sad when I said goodbye to them for the summer yesterday.

ProtagsAnd what would this year have been like without my amazing new friends? I can’t thank Diana, Sean, and Dan enough for the great memories and laughs they’ve given me this past year. It’s imperative to have quality friends anywhere, but especially when you’re living abroad and are away from your family and friends from home. So to have been lucky enough to find 3 people who I think the world of is pretty damn awesome.

Of course, travelling has also been a major theme this past year. Besides the obvious travel to Spain, I have also been able to visit a few other European countries that were on my bucket list. I never thought I would actually get to see the Eiffel Tower in person or visit King’s Cross station and see Platform 9 3/4. I never thought I would spend nearly 2 weeks visting Italy during Holy Week. Travelling has been an amazing advantage of living in Europe and I look forward to travelling some more when I return. That being said, I do want to travel a lot within Spain next year because I want to get to know that country I’m living in more. And Spain has so many beautiful places to see, it’d be a shame to live here and not visit them.

I must say, though, that the greatest thing that has happened to me this past year has been gaining another family here in Spain. My Spain family completely took me in and treated me like one of their own. The move here would have been a thousand times more difficult without them. I have loved every single second of being a big sister to the kids! My summer will feel too quiet without them. I’ll constantly be expecting to hear a knock at my door and a kid saying, “Yarelis, can I play with your phone?” or “Yarelis, juega conmigo.” And my Spain parents are the best! Anyone who watches telenovelas knows that when you find another person who watches them and loves the same ones you do, it’s like finding a kindred spirit…and I’ve found just that in my Spain mom :-) We also share a profound love of cheesecake. And I think I’ve mentioned on here before that my Spain mom is one of the best cooks ever…and if I haven’t mentioned it before, well, I’m saying it now: She is one of the best cooks ever! I never had a meal that she made that I did not enjoy. And my Spain dad is awesome. Super funny and he always has interesting stories and topics to tell/discuss with me. It’s been so great to live with a family that I not only love, but really admire and look up to.

While I am excited to see my family/friends and spend my summer with them, it feels great to know that when I return to Spain in September I’ll be welcomed by great friends and my other family. It’s always nice to know that you have a “home away from home.”

¡Nos vemos en dos meses y medio, Madrid!

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