All aboard, current and future college students! Did you know there is an exciting way you can travel the world, keep up with your studies and pay little, if anything, for the privilege? Now that the weather is getting colder, I’ve been doing some wishful thinking about taking the family on a balmy Caribbean cruise. Sailing on board a humongous boat with hundreds of other people and visiting exotic ports of call reminded me of a college friend who did just that — all while still keeping up with studies in school.
In your teen years you’ve no doubt thought about college a LOT. In addition to what and where to study, there’s the dilemma of how to pay for it all.
Rumors have been swirling around my house that college is free in Germany. Having a glorious time paying off my own grad school student loans, I tried to
force encourage my son to consider a good, FREE, German college education. Sadly he doesn’t cotton much to learning foreign languages. Oh well. If you’re not scared of a little German (English is a Germanic language, after all!) and wish to pursue opportunities to study STEM at a world-class institution – for VERY low cost – you must consider Germany!
“Do you (Child) care? Why not Au Pair?!” Part One” continues, below:
Once you feel confident that you are adaptable, responsible, and open-minded, and that you out care Mary Poppins herself, sit down with a laptop for a good long while and google “Au Pair” abroad. If there is a country you are especially interested in, add it to your google search.
There are many companies that will happily help you jump through the bureaucratic red tape in order to get yourself situated with a promising family. They all charge different fees and make varying promises to you. With some thorough research and help from a trusted adult, you should be able to narrow down the choices to one or two organizations to pursue further.
Enticed by the idea of living abroad for a little while, but studying abroad isn’t for you? You may be close to high school graduation and now are considering something to do on a gap year. Perhaps you need income while traveling independently overseas, or wish to give your resume a bit of a kick in the pants. Have you considered serving as an Au Pair?
What is an Au Pair?
The simplest way to describe this arrangement is that you serve as a glorified nanny overseas. The term “Au Pair” is from the French, roughly meaning “the same.” The upshot is that you are to be treated as one of the family, not as an employee. You are paid to work with your host parents’ children, but the income should be considered as something akin to an allowance, not a paycheck.
You live with the family in their home, and they feed you at no cost to you. This kind of living situation where rent and food is covered is known as “room and board.” There are Au Pair arrangements where young men and women from other countries become an Au Pair in America. Similarly, you, as an American, can apply to various countries abroad to become an Au Pair. Many nations, unfortunately, do not participate in Au Pair programs. Of those that do, each has its own particular requirements of both the host family and the Au Pair.
Ever considered becoming a FES – a Foreign Exchange Student (FES, for viewers of “That 70’s Show”)? You may have had one or a few at your school, but what is it like when you are the student abroad?
First, why even do it? Well, each FES has his or her own reasons. For me, I had dreamed of traveling to Europe ever since my mom read me bedtime fairy tales of castles, bridges, trolls, and princesses. As much as I enjoyed the stories and wished to adventure abroad, it was never in the family budget. When I happened upon a Rotary International brochure on my French teacher’s desk one day at high school, my journey literally and figuratively began. My application was soon approved by the local Rotary club, and the school principal okayed my appeal to spend my senior year abroad!