Wow, where to start. The past month has been exhausting, but I could not be happier! I am living with a family as a Demi Au Pair while studying at Seville University as an Erasmus Student for 5 months (February - July), and it’s going great! Typically, I do 12 hours a week of ‘au pair-ing’, 5 hours teaching Belén English (she’s the mother of the family and one of the nicest people I will ever meet), 5 hours teaching Ariane English (a very sweet 3 and a half year old) and 2 hours ironing – they asked for help around the house and that’s what I chose.
First of all, I am going to talk a bit about the family. I am repeatedly told how lucky I am to be in this situation, and I realise that not everyone who opts for living with a family at the same time as studying has it like this, but this I why I would recommend going through an agency rather than on your own; they matched my needs perfectly. For anybody who is planning to go on a year abroad to learn the language/experience the culture, I could not recommend it more. Before I came to Seville, the family were completely aware that University was a priority and my English lessons fit around that, they usually invite me with them on weekends away, though they are perfectly fine with me staying at home if I prefer. They are also open to me having a friend come to visit, as long as I ask beforehand, which seems very reasonable to me, and my boyfriend has even come to stay too! When they are here in Seville on Sundays we have been going to explore the city with their friends and family – the Spanish people welcome you like no others.
Before living in Spain, I was an Erasmus Student in France for 4 months. I had a great time, but after living on my own and having mostly Anglophones as my closest friends, I was ready for a change. Regardless of the family, integration with the locals is very easy to do here if you want to. I have a lot of Spanish friends here, and I really feel like I’m experiencing what the Year Abroad is all about. It really is a language and culture exchange, as I am like a sponge with my cuadernito ready to jot down any new colloquial expressions they have for me, and they’re passionate about England, and our way of life. The university is quite different from Avignon’s, as I only do 4 subjects (rather than 10!) but somehow manage to be in for 18 hours a week!
I would really recommend being a demi-au pair: this feels like my second home already, I love the family and the exchange complements my studies perfectly. As you can see, I do not have the same duties as a typical au pair - I have a lot less to do – but it is not like I do my ‘hours’ and then go to my room, I like chatting to the family and generally being around the house. I am not paid, and instead am provided with a lovely room with an en-suite, and food is included too. This works very well for a student like me, as flat-sharing or private residences can be expensive, and most of my student loan goes on food and travelling, so now I have more funds to explore Spain!